At Mountain View Automotive in Thornton, we know that it’s easier to turn to our experts for car care. But there are basic auto repair and maintenance tasks that you should get familiar with if you want to maximize the longevity and performance of your vehicle. Today, we’ll cover a few important items that you need to know about your vehicle to ensure it’s running in tip-top shape.
You’ve probably been driving since you were a teenager and it seems like our cars are indispensable. Why run the risk of having your vehicle break down, leaving you stranded for work or unable to get the kids to school? With a little bit of insight into basic auto repair and maintenance, you can likely avoid the inconvenience and expense of major repairs and other issues.
Get your oil changed. This is car maintenance 101 and for good reason. It’s literally the easiest yet most important thing you can do for your car. Clean oil keeps your engine running smoothly by lubricating the components and reducing friction. Once you have friction, you have heat – a deadly combination for your engine parts.
All it takes is removing the drain plug, allowing all the old, dirty oil to drain out and replacing the plug. Then swap out your oil filter and pour in new oil. A car manual will tell you where to find everything and there’s plenty of videos and resources online. You can also bring your car, truck or SUV to us for a professional oil change. No matter what you choose, don’t put off oil changes.
Know how to change a flat. Even if you have AAA or some other type of roadside assistance, this is basic auto repair and maintenance you can easily tackle on your own. If you experience a flat tire, first make sure you’re completely off the road and it’s safe for you to exit the vehicle and work on the tire. If it’s too dangerous, by all means, call a tow company.
To change your flat tire, first gather your spare and tools, then loosen the lug nuts while the car is still on the ground. Now use a jack to lift the car, completely remove the lug nuts and change out the tire. Get your lug nuts on there securely, but fully re-tighten them when you lower your car again. That’s about it! You can also bring your flat to us and we’ll see if it’s an issue we can repair – otherwise, we will replace your tire and the full set if needed.
Swap out that old car battery. Before you hop into your car for work and get the dreaded, click, click, click of a fully dead battery, take care of this basic auto repair and maintenance job yourself in just a few steps. Signs you should keep a look out for include a slow crank – your vehicle taking longer than normal to start, problems with electrical components like automatic windows, a warning light coming on your dashboard and just old battery age.
Once you’ve identified the battery issue, pick up a new battery at an auto parts store. You can find the right one either online or by asking the shop. Now to change out the battery, you’ll first remove any covers and disconnect the negative cable (black) by loosening the nut. Keep it away from the battery post. Do the exact same for the positive cable (red). Now, remove the hold-down clamp and the old battery, then insert the new one. Secure it with the clamp and go in reverse to re-attach the cables. Positive first, then negative.
Replace a burned out headlight. Driving around with one headlight or taillight out is not only dangerous but can get you in trouble with the law. Why pay a ticket when you can often swap out a headlight bulb on your own? We say “often” because there are a number of vehicle makes and models out there that will require a bit more expertise to handle this basic auto repair and maintenance task. One of the old Saturn vehicles required full bumper removal to change out headlights, even just the bulbs. So, if you can’t easily get to the backside of your headlight or taillight, bring it into the shop and we’ll take care of everything for you.
If you peruse your owner’s manual or check out a few tutorials and feel this is a project you can tackle, here are your basic steps. Pop the hood, locate backside of your headlight, and remove both the power connector and dust cover. Once you’ve gotten down to the bulb holder, you may have to work a latch or clip that holds it in place. Next, remove the old bulb which takes a little pulling – do not hold it by the glass or get too rough which can cause it to shatter. Because dirt and oils from your hand can cause early burn-out, hold the new bulb by its housing and insert it carefully into the holder. Then return everything to their original places and you’re set.
Change out your windshield wipers. Okay, now this is a very basic auto repair and maintenance item that anyone can do on their own. And here in Colorado, with cold snowy winters and hot summers, it’s also very important. The change in temperatures can cause blades to crack over time, so don’t wait until a downpour, snow or hail storm to take care of your windshield wipers.
There are a number of places online where you can plug in your vehicle information and find blades to fit properly. While instructions will vary by brand, the process is pretty simple. Locate and press the tab to release your current blades. Once removed, you’ll line up the new wipers with the arm and snap it in according to the directions. No tools needed, either!
Now that you know a few of the basic auto repair and maintenance items that should be taken care of regularly, you have the insight needed to keep your vehicle safely on the road, rain or shine. Of course, if your days are too hectic or you simply want the experts to take care of your vehicle for you, come see us at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton for friendly service and quality work.