A Swahili saying states that kuzaa mwana si kazi, kazi ni kulea. Loosely translated it says birthing a child is not hard, raising the child is the hard part. Same thing with cars. Buying a car isn’t the only hard or expensive part. Maintaining the car in pristine condition is the hard bit. It can make your pocket look like a leaking faucet because of the draining. Well, sometimes you’re spending money and time visiting your mechanic for things you can do yourself at home at zero cost. We know or we’ve heard how some mechanics hype the prices for clients who seem naive when it comes to cars. So here’s some basic maintenance practices every male and female motorist should be able to do by themselves:
- Adding wiper fluid. Here in Kenya we like to choose the cheaper alternative that’s why we use water as wiper fluid. It still gets the job done but there is a fluid made to do that job. Whether you use the fluid or water, as a motorist you should be able to locate the reservoir and top up the liquid. In some cars there is a dipstick that helps you know the current amount of liquid and you can determine whether to top it up or leave it like that.
- Checking engine oil level and topping it up.
Engine oil is like the blood of your car. If the blood is less then anaemia takes set. Checking the oil level varies depending on the frequency of the car’s usage but it should be done at least weekly. You don’t shake the car and listen to the oil shake to determine oil level. It’s done using a dipstick which is usually yellow in colour (I haven’t seen a dipstick of another colour). The dipstick is around the engine area. Some people say you should check your engine oil level when the engine is hot and some say you should check the level when the engine is cold. I’d prefer checking when the engine is warm. Why? The oil will not have condensed and there will be no hot parts that can burn you. To check the oil level, first remove the dipstick and wipe it using a cloth. Dip it back into place then pull it out. The sticks have markings to indicate the low and high levels. Identify the markings and check where the highest point of the oil is. If it is between the markings then there is no need of adding oil but if the level is low or close to the low marking then top up the oil. Never put excess oil. It is as dangerous as little oil. Fill up little by little as you check the dipstick to see the level. Wait, I forgot to tell you where to fill it up. I hope you didn’t put oil into the dipstick slot. There’s a cap at the top of the engine. Open the cap and pour oil into the chamber. While at it check the oil colour. Brown or black oil is okay. Light milky looking oil could mean that coolant is leaking into the engine. Metal particles could indicate that there is engine damage and you need to get your car checked.
- Checking coolant level.
If you experience heartburns you know how good it feels when you drink cold water or milk. Or on a hot day and you’re thirsty then you drink something cold, the feeling of the drink making its way down your throat is refreshing. That’s how your car feels when it runs hot and there is sufficient coolant. Simply locate your car’s coolant reservoir which is usually translucent and indicated with markings for high and low levels. Check to see where the top point of the liquid is and act accordingly.
- Tyre checks.
The tyres are the only part of the car that should be in constant contact with the road. This means that it is subjected to high amounts of friction and bumping. You should pay lots of attention to the tyres because neglecting them can cause an accident which could be fatal. First of all get to know the tyre pressure and tyre size recommended by your car’s manufacturer. This information can be found in your car’s manual or on a small placard by the driver’s side frame when the driver’s door is open. The placard mostly contains two recommended tyre sizes and the appropriate pressure for each. If you have a pressure checker at home then use it to check the tyre pressure and inflate or deflate if needed. The other thing you should be able to do is change a flat tyre. You should know how to jack up your car without risk of it falling back. You should know how to remove the bolts/nuts (pardon me for I don’t know the difference) and fix them firmly back in place. These days though it’s easier to deal with a flat tyre because there are runflat tyres and emergency inflation kits. However this does not give you a reason to not know how to change a tyre. Runflat tyres are designed to buy you some little time before you get to a station or other convenient place and change your tyre so they don’t run for long after getting flat. Inflation kits cannot help if the tyre has a puncture. So practice on how to change tyres so you can be safe if a tyre runs while you’re in some remote place with no signal reception or gas station nearby. While at it you can also practice how to rotate the tyres and that will be a bonus for you.
For the sake of readability I’ll only mention those 4. For the full article and to read what I’ve left out (critical things by the way) click here (It might take some time to load so be patient). By the time you’re done with the article you should be a self made ‘mechanic’ and you don’t have to wait for your boyfriend or husband to do everything. Till the next post, cheers.