Want to Know How to Keep Your Car Repair Costs Down, Even if You Don’t Know a Thing about Cars?
I know that most people don’t want to have to think about their car. It really is a pain to have to worry about this or that being taken care of. While I do recommend bringing your car in to us for things you are not proficient in, I also know that one of the largest factors in how a car is maintained comes down to money. But…I’m here to tell you that there are a few things you can do that will help to avoid costly repairs, and is sure to result in your vehicle providing you with the most reliable, long lasting service it’s capable of.
1st Car Tip: Check your Oil
Of course I would say this, but truthfully, the oil in your engine is it’s lifeblood. We have kidneys, spleen and other organs that filter and renew our blood, and if I could invent artificial organs to renew the oil in my car, I would definitely do it! As it is, the best we can do is filter solids out of our engine oil. This protects the engine bearings and pump from damage, but does not renew the lubricating quality of the oil that is lost through thermal breakdown. This is why a religious oil change schedule is the single best thing you can do for your car.
Checking your oil is generally simple. With the exception of some BMWs, almost every car has an oil dipstick with a yellow or orange handle.
Locate the Oil Dipstick:
You can find it either on top of the engine, like on this Honda Element, or on the side of the engine.
Wipe off the Oil:
You’ll want to wipe the oil off the end of the dipstick if the car has been driven recently. This allows for a more accurate reading. Once you’ve wiped the oil off, return the dipstick back into the engine all the way.
Check Your Oil Level:
Pull the dipstick back out and look at the oil level. There should be a visible line where the oil stops on the dipstick, it should coincide with the top mark on the dipstick (as shown in the photo). The spacing between these marks on the dipstick generally represent about 1 quart. So if your oil level is on the lower mark you’ll need to add about a quart of oil.
If you need to add oil, do it slowly, maybe a 1/4 of a quart at a time, checking the level each time until it reaches the full/top mark. Adding too much oil can damage your engine. It can cause excessive internal pressure, blowing gaskets out if your PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve is not working properly. So, better safe than sorry. The weight/type of oil you need for your engine is usually labeled on the oil filler cap ( the round black cap with yellow writing, right on top the engine in the photos).
Thanks for reading this Car Tip for Beginners on how to check and add oil! Remember: keeping your oil level up and getting an oil change regularly is proven to keep your engine running better for longer, and in the long run will save you money.