Monday, December 27, 2010

Tune Up.

Alright Ladies (and gentlemen). 
Whose dad taught them basic car knowledge before they were handed the key's to their first car? That was fun for a 16-year-old. Not. 
Now however, I couldn't be more thankful for these skills. You realize when you're all alone with your first flat tire on the highway how valuable these mechanical skills are. 
I use math to calculate the pros of obtaining these skills: 
you show up the boys + look awesome because you can cook AND fix a car + keep yourself safe + save money = Necessity.  
I know a lot of my readers are military wives who have husbands gone for months at a time and this would be great especially for when they are not around. 
Here are a few tips for basic mechanics. 

How To: Notice a Shock Absorber Leak
If you see oil dripping out of your wheel it could be a shock absorber leak. This is currently the problem with my car
When the oil or gas leaks out of a shock absorber your car will bounce up and down like your car has hydraulics. 
First clean up the mess, cat litter soaks up everything. Next, call your daddy to fix it.
How To: Check your Car's Tire Pressure
It's best to check the tire pressure before you have driven for the day and the tires are cold.
First there are two places you can look to tell you the correct pressure that your front and rear tires should be.  One is in the gas cap door but every car should have the tire pressure values in the driver's seat door jam. The lower number is for a "normal load" for everyday driving, the higher number is when your car is at "maximum load" like when you go on vacation. 
Next use tire pressure gage (it's good to just have one stored in your car) and press firmly in the center of valve stem. It's good to do this a few times just to make sure you have an accurate reading. When you do it incorrectly it sounds like you are just letting air out (a pffffffffffffffffft sound). When you are doing it correctly it should be a short, quick burst of air (a pfft sound).
Don't freak out if you do it wrong a few times, you're not hurting the car. 
If you need to add air, most gas stations have air pumps. Add the air VERY gradually and continue to check it as you are filling it up. If you overfill, gently press on valve stem to release air as necessary. 
How To: Check + Add Oil 
Check your owners manual for specifications on when to check the oil, most cars need to be driven (warmed up) for an accurate reading. A good time to check is when you stop for gas, after you have finished pumping the gas and the car has been sitting a few minutes. 
Get a paper towel in your hand and as you are carefully removing the dipstick use the paper towel to wipe the dipstick as you are pulling it up (oil dripping on your car or clothes = not good), reinsert the dipstick and pull it back out to check the oil level on the dipstick. If it is at the minimum mark, you need to add oil NOW! If it is in between MIN and MAX  line you are good.
If you are below the MIN this is the time to check your owner's manual...
to make sure you add the appropriate amount of oil without overfilling. Too much oil is just as bad, if not worse than too little. Go to your index and find the section on checking your oil to see how much oil and what type you should add. 
For example: In my car when I am at the MIN line it take's 2.1 quarts of 5W-40 to fill to the MAX. 
(Just so you have an idea of what to look for)
If you don't have an owner's manual, add 1/2 quart at a time, checking in between. 
How To: Checking your Power Steering
This is very similar to checking your oil, but often overlooked. This pump and fluid is what makes it easy for you to turn your steering wheel with one finger. If there is not enough fluid it can become hard to turn and ultimately damage your steering components. Again there is usually a MIN and MAX line and virtually all cars require it to be checked when the engine is hot. Some cars like mine have these lines for when the car is hot and cold, but most don't. Again check the owners manual to see what power steering fluid is required and add the appropriate fluid. Be VERY careful to not add too much power steering fluid. Only add a couple ounces at a time until full. 
Alright Ms. Fix-it get to work. 


  1. My dad taught me how to check my oil and I learned on my own how to change a flat tire. I know how to check everything else now since I have to check a truck out every morning at work. I could never change my oil though, I take my car to my Daddy or Walmart.

  2. I love knowing car stuff. Cody thinks its sexy :)

  3. Thank you and your dad too! I never knew why they had a low and high air pressure listed for tires.

  4. My husband and I were just discussing this on our last trip. I've found I can fix most things/figure out what's wrong if I have to, but I've never changed a car tire. Trailer tire, but not a car. Fortunately it's the same principle.