Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"How To" Wednesdays: Fixing a car - basic style.


This may sound like a fairly random choice of blog post, but if you knew my Mum it would be completely natural in your mind. You see, my Mum is deeply feminist and has never let allowed me to pass on a chore that a man would stereotypically do. Hence, as soon as I was legally able to drive, I was taught exactly how to deal with any troubles my car might get me into.

So without any further ado...

Adding 'water': As you probably have noticed, you have a temperature indicator on your dash, C (cold) and H (hot). If the needle is pointing towards H, chances are you are in need of some water or coolant (which is a mixture of water and antifreeze: do not drink this! You WILL die). If so, wait until your engine has cooled down (roughly 30 minutes after turning off your engine). When it is cool enough, pop the hood. You are looking for a plastic reservoir tub with some form of drawing indicating water (your manual will give you an exact idea of where to look). If in doubt, fill to the "full" mark. Done!

Buffing out scratches: As you may already be aware, there are a lot of idiots on our roads; and that is double when you're in a car park it seems. So it is only natural to cover this topic as well. Our cars paintwork is set into four different layers: steel, primer, colour and finally, clear-coat. If you're scratch has cut deeper than the paint layer it is probably best you disregard this information and take your beloved car to a professional. However, for minor scratches, clean the area with soapy water and dry. Once this is done, apply a small amount of rubbing compound (a gritty wax-like product you can buy from auto stores) onto a foam buffer. Use the buffer to work in a circular motion on the scratch until the surface evens out, and voila, scratch be gone!

Changing a tyre: Strangely, this is not a skill I learnt from my Mum, but in fact an ex-boyfriend! None the less, I now know how to change a tyre. Now you want to make sure you do this right, people have died from doing this wrong. Strong men included. If you think you're up to the challenge, you want to put a chock behind a wheel on the opposite side of the car (a brick or something heavy will do, you don't want the car to move). Locate the jack in your car, it is usually under the lining of your boot, somewhere around your spare tyre. You want to place this close enough to the affected tyre as to move the car high enough for you to work on the area, but not too close as to impede your chances of pulling this off. Jack it up until the affected wheel is off the ground. NEVER GET UNDER THE CAR! If the jack fails and you are under the car, your chances of survival are slim. Remove the nuts and slide the tyre towards you and set aside. You now want to put the spare tyre on and firmly screw the nuts back on. Lower the jack so the tyre is again on the ground then tighten the nuts. Done!

Checking air pressure: This is an important one we usually forget about. If you don't have enough air pressure in your tyres they will wear away much faster meaning more sets of tyres, as well as higher fuel consumption meaning more stops at the petrol station. Different cars have different tyre pressures so you're going to want to check your manual. Next, get yourself to a petrol station; they should have an electronic air pump which is free to use. Remove the cap from your tyre valve and set the required tyre pressure onto the pump. Place the hose nozzle onto the tyre and squeeze trigger. The pump will beep when the tyre pressure has been reached. Next, remove the hose and replace the nozzle, then repeat for your other tyres.

Checking the oil: Once your engine is cool enough (30 minutes) you want to pop the bonnet. Next, locate the dipstick (it has a loop at the top). Find yourself a rag as this may get a little messy! Pull the dipstick out and wipe it with the rag to remove any leftover oil. Replace the dipstick for a few seconds then repeat. This will help to give a true indication of the oil level. If the oil stain doesn't reach the 'full' level then you are going to need to do a little more work. You want to find the oil filter (middle of engine). Remove its cap and pour small amounts in until the dipstick is reading as full. Replace the cap, you're all done. Remember to never go more than three months without checking your oil.


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