Many people buy a car without a clue of how to maintain it. As a result, their autos show problems earlier than normal. According to Protect My Car, most cars are driven at around 15,000 miles a year can reach a mileage of 150,000 without major issues. The only problems that arise are related to the A/C, suspension, brakes, and, occasionally, some minor rusting because of the climate.
These problems occur when preventive maintenance is already observed. It is a general rule that cars undergo preventive maintenance every three months or every 3,000 miles. That means you need to bring your vehicle to your trusted auto mechanic four times a year. If your car is newer and takes synthetic oils, you can take it to maintenance once every six months or every 6,000 miles.
Hence, if you don’t maintain your car at all, it’s bound to show serious problems early into its life. Luckily, you can troubleshoot some of them yourself. Use this article as your guide to diagnosing your auto and knowing your next step.
Car Problems You Can Fix Yourself
- Dirty Engine Filter
Car filters also need regular replacements, like your HVAC filter at home. Inspect the filters at a frequency that depends on how often you use the car. When it’s time to replace them, just unscrew or unclip the filter box retainers. Take out the dirty filter and shine a flashlight on it. If the filter blocks 50% of the light or more, the engine definitely needs a new filter. Install the new one and secure the air filter box cover.
- Worn Gas Lifts
New gas lifts are available in many auto parts stores. Just enlist a helper to hold the hood up for you. Many gas lift styles simply unbolt with a metric socket set, but others may use a ball-and-socket style connection held in place by a spring clip. Shove a small flat blade screwdriver between the clip and the cylinder if that’s your auto. Gently yank the cylinder off the ball stud, then replace it.
- Broken Light Bulbs
Unless it’s not the headlight, you can replace your car’s lights yourself. Just unscrew the lens and remove the malfunctioning light bulb. Install the new one, preferably with gloves on, so that the oils on your hands won’t transfer to the light. Push the bulb into the socket until it clicks, then screw the lens back on.
- Leaky Sunroof
The sunroof’s drains are probably clogged if the rain keeps falling inside the car. Open the sunroof and look for the drain holes in the front and rear side of the sunroof. Use a wet-dry vacuum, attaching a thin tube on its end to help suck the debris from the drain holes. Then shoot water on each drain to see if the clog has been removed. If you don’t see the leaks anymore, put the sunroof back on.
- Dents and Door Dings
Minor damages like dents and door dings don’t always require a costly fix. Just run sandpaper over the affected area and apply some autobody filler on it. Don’t forget to feather the edges to make it look seamless. When the damage cures, sand it again until smooth, then apply cream filler on it to cover any pinholes. Do final sand afterward, then repaint.
Car Problems That Require a Pro to Fix
Odd noises, warning lights, and problems encountered while driving often indicate serious problems. You can inspect them yourself, but fixing them without a pro may end up costing you more. These problems should be fixed by a mechanic alone:
- Squeaking Brakes
Neglecting this issue can risk your safety, so take your car to the mechanic once you hear your brakes squeaking.
- Checking Engine Light
This could indicate a problem in the water pump or something worse.
- Cutting Off While Driving
This could be a problem with the alternator. Your auto can keep running with this issue until it discharges the battery. This could leave you stranded, so get it fixed immediately.
An overheating car may also pose safety risks, so stop driving if this happens. Get your car towed and taken to a nearby mechanic.
Reading the owner’s manual will allow you to learn the basic know-how of maintaining a car. Every car acts differently, so if you have more than one car, read each of their manuals. Neglecting maintenance may void your vehicle’s warranty, and the insurance company won’t help you, either. Auto insurance only covers damage from accidents or natural disasters. It also compensates you if your car is stolen. Hence, you are solely responsible for the upkeep of your vehicle. Just because cars are smart now doesn’t mean they self-treat their problems.
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