Under the Hood

The modern automobile is no longer a delicacy or luxury that only the elite may own. Nowadays, teenagers are getting cars in high school. Automobiles have evolved a long way in such short time and in doing so, we have a responsibility to ensure that we our looking after our vehicle and not merely using it as a means to an end.

We have briefly gone over some of the basics for tire care and now we will cover a large and compressive guide to overall car maintenance. There are a lot of different topics and subjects to cover in in general car maintenance, however; I will do my best to detail some of the more important aspects that must be considered when upkeeping the safety and performance of your vehicle.

Engine Light

One of the most important features of your vehicle will be the heads-up display on your car’s dashboard. The dashboard behind your steering wheel is comprised of many symbols and gauges that informs you of vehicle’s condition. Of all the symbols and gauges, one of the most significant is the check engine light. When your car's check engine light illuminates your dashboard, it's usually a sign that a component or system in your car may be malfunctioning. The light could be a minor issue, such as a faulty gas cap, or it could mean something more serious, such as a misfiring engine. In many cases, it means that you should visit the car dealership to repair the issue and get the light turned off.

Check engine light example

  • Replace ignition coil(s) and spark plug(s) ($391.42)
  • Replace oxygen sensor(s) ($244.04)
  • Replace catalytic converter(s) with a new OEM catalytic converter(s) ($1,371.17)
  • Inspect for loose gas cap and tighten or replace as necessary ($25.86)
  • Replace ignition coil(s) ($217.91)
  • Replace evaporative emissions purge control valve ($149.52)
  • Replace mass airflow sensor ($340.58)
  • Replace evaporative emissions purge solenoid ($153.70)
  • Replace fuel injector(s) ($449.73)
  • Replace thermostat ($244.61)

Above is a list of the 10 most common check engine codes of the year 2019 along with an estimated cost of repair for personal reference.

I would highly suggest that you invest in a OBD code reader, and keep it in your car so that you can check the onboard diagnostics system yourself with the code reader and better have an understanding of what course of action will be needed. The code readers can range from about $20-$30 and can be purchased from almost any autoparts retailer.

Oil/Oil Filter

Car maintenance can be a mystery endeavor for many vehicle owners but getting familiar with the basics of automobile anatomy can help to ensure that your car remains in tip top shape. For this topic, we will be covering another important aspect that is oil and the oil filter.

Oil filters have a very significant function among the systems of your vehicle and if your oil filter has poor quality, it can shorten the lifespan of your engine and possibly cause other parts to malfunction as well. The oil filter plays a role in your car’s lubrication system which is a very important role in protecting your engine from premature wear and damage. All the moving parts in the engine need clean oil to properly lubricate them and this is where the oil filter comes in handy.

Along with caring for the oil filter of your car, you should also have your car's oil changed fairly reguarly.There are a number of factors that can be taken into account when determining when to get your oil changed. Usually variables such as vehicle age, type of oil and driving conditions will determine the oil change intervals. It was once considered the norm to change the oil every 3,000 miles, but with modern lubricants of most engines today, It is recommended to perform an oil change in intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 miles. In slightly more rare cases, if your car's engine requires full-synthetic motor oil, it might go as far as 15,000 miles between services. To be sure of when you should get your oil changed, please refer to your driver’s manual as this is the source of the most appropriate knowledge relative to your unique vehicle’s needs

Body Check

One thing I should mention is that it is absolutely vital to your car’s health as well as your financial well-being for you to form a relationship with a mechanic or auto repair shop that you can trust. I mention this for the reason that working with the same mechanic or repair shop throughout your car’s life lets them get to know your car, its history, and its unique tendencies or quirks. This can make troubleshooting problems easier and help your mechanic to more efficiently find the right solution.

So hopefully you can establish a healthy and beneficial relationship with your mechanic or auto shop, however; there are some inspections and checkups you should perform yourself. What I’m referring to can be called a Body Check, and this is a quick walk around and inspection of the exterior of your vehicle. Driving is serious business and if you’re like me and depend on your vehicle daily, then I think it’s a good idea to walk around your vehicle at least once per week and run through a pre-trip check. This is a good tip that we can take from commercial drivers, in fact commercial drivers are required to do pre and post trip inspections each day.

Body Check Example

Below are a few examples of items you should check while doing a Body Check:

  • Circle your vehicle and look for body damage (dents, scratches, etc.)
  • Check your wiper blades to ensure that they are still in good shape.
  • Inspect tires for abnormal wear, punctures or cuts.
  • Test the locks, windows to make sure they operate without sticking.
  • Check and see if your bulbs, headlights/taillights are working
  • Adjust mirrors and check for damage