The basic mechanics manual that every driver should know

There is a saying that “better safe than sorry” and that is totally true when it comes to car care. It is clear that if we attend to small failures in our vehicle at the moment they happen, we can save a lot of money and, above all, avoid a bad moment such as being stranded on the road.

In this article, we’ll show you how to do basic mechanical repairs, how to change a tire, how to turn on the power, or simply how to change your windshield wipers. Some more important than others, but all very useful and that you should know.

How to change a tire

Knowing how to change a tire is very important, especially when you go on a vacation trip , because you can get stuck in the middle of the road.

The first thing you have to do is pull up to avoid accidents and turn on your flashing lights so drivers can see you. Find a flat, solid surface so you can change the tire.

If your car is standard, put it in first or reverse, if it is automatic put it in park and put something heavy like a stone, in front of and behind the other tire. Take out the cross wrench and jack to lift the car, these are basic mechanical items that you should always have.

With the cross wrench loosen the screws , not too much, once they are all loose, use the jack to raise the car.

Find the surface of the car where to place the jack, many times it is on the back of the tire or on the chassis. If you can’t find where to put it, check the manual (always bring it with you) or look under the car for a mark that indicates where to put it.

Once you get the jack in a good place, start to raise the car, just enough so that the tire just rose to the ground . Cats normally run on pressure, so you’ll have to pump.

When the tire is lifted, finish loosening and remove all the bolts. Remove the tire, if it is too tight, tap around it to make it come off . To remove the spare tire, check that the jack is well placed, preferably place the flat tire under the car, so that if it slips off the jack, the car falls on it and thus avoid accidents.

Once you’ve got the spare tire out, put it on and put in all the bolts. Tighten each one little by little, do not try to fully tighten one bolt before the others because the rim could be unbalanced. Tighten the screws just enough so that it is fixed, but not very hard.

Next you must lower the car off the jack, releasing the pressure. Usually the cat has a valve.

With the car down, finish tightening the screws applying all your force, and if necessary use your weight to make them totally secure.

How to pass current

A basic mechanical situation is charging a discharged battery with another car, the famous “passing current” . If your battery is completely discharged and there is no mechanic service nearby, you should get a good Samaritan to help you.

Follow these simple steps so you know how to power a car:

  1. You have to place the car with the charged battery in front of yours, ensuring that they do not touch at any time, and turn off both cars, in addition, disconnect any object that consumes battery power.
  2. Check that both batteries have the same voltage (it is usually 12 volts in cars) and remove the current cables, you should always bring some in the car.
  3. Check that none of the batteries have cracks or are leaking liquid, otherwise, you must resign yourself and call the tow truck to tow your car. Be careful, because if you decide to go through the process with damaged batteries, they could explode and seriously injure you.

    a. Once you are assured, follow the steps as I describe them below: first connect the red cable (this cable can also be yellow) to the positive pole of the discharged battery, then connect the other end of the red cable to the positive pole of the charged battery.

    b. Take the black wire and connect it to the negative pole of the charged battery. In the case of the other end of the black cable, it has to be connected to a metal part that grounded. Make sure the surface has no paint or is rusty, if so, no current will flow. You should hear a little spark if you’ve found a good spot.

    c. Whenever this process is done, the mechanics recommend staying as far away as possible from the battery when connecting the cables. Once the circuit is closed, start the car with the battery charged and keep it idling for about five minutes and then try to start the other car. If it doesn’t start, turn it off and wait another five minutes, it should start no later than 15 minutes, otherwise, call the tow truck.

    Once you start the car, you should remove the cables in reverse order of how you placed them at the beginning, that is, first the black connected to a piece of metal, then the other end connected to the discharged battery, then the red wire of the charged battery, and lastly the wire of the discharged battery.

Change wiper

Keeping the windshield wiper blades in perfect condition is of the utmost importance as a dirty windshield can reduce visibility and increase the risk of an accident. So if you notice that your windshield is dull or clumpy, even after turning on the windshield wipers, it ‘s time to change them.

It is advisable to change the windshield wipers once a year , if it is at the beginning of the rainy season, the better.

The first thing to do is recognize what type of windshield wipers your car uses . This information can be found in the manual or you can take the old ones to the parts store so that they can tell you which ones your vehicle uses.

Changing the windshield wiper is simple, but the way to do it is different depending on the model, that’s why we share the following video, where they explain in detail how to change the windshield wiper no matter what type your car uses.

Change windshield washer fluid

The best way to change the windshield wipers is with the car turned off and cold to avoid burns. To clean the windshield, a special liquid is used that can be purchased at any hardware or auto parts store.

Avoid using soap and water as debris can clog the ducts and damage the system. Changing the windshield washer fluid is very simple, you just have to open the trunk and locate the reservoir. It is usually located on the right side of the car , it is white and there is an icon of a windshield wiper on the lid.

You just have to fill the top with the new liquid and check that it works correctly.

How to check my car’s brakes

The braking system can be complex, more so if it is ABS. If you find a fault outside of those mentioned here, it is best to go to a workshop to have your car checked by a specialist.

The essential thing that you should check in the brakes of your car is that they have enough brake fluid and that it is not dark. A cloudy liquid indicates that it is time to change it. In addition, you should check that the brake pads (brake pads) are not very worn.

With a few simple tests, you can tell if it’s time to check your car’s brake system. If you hear noise when braking, if the brake pedal is too low, you notice leaks or the parking brake has a very long travel, it will be time for a service.

How to check brake fluid

To check the brake fluid, all you have to do is open the hood and locate the reservoir, it is usually on the driver’s side. It is important that before opening the tank, you clean the lid as any garbage can clog the pipes and cause major problems.

How to change the brake fluid

Knowing how to change brake fluid may go little beyond basic mechanics, but we don’t lose anything by knowing it. To do this we will need the help of another person.

It is recommended to change the brake fluid every two years or every 30 thousand kilometers . It will be necessary to lift the car with the aid of a hydraulic jack to access the caliper bleeder.

When changing the brake fluid, take care that it is done in the following order:

  • Left rear wheel.
  • Right rear wheel.
  • Left front wheel.
  • Right front wheel.

This is due to the path of the brake fluid from the reservoir to the last rim.

The first thing to do is empty the reservoir with the help of a syringe . It is important to fill the reservoir as much as possible with the new liquid to prevent air from entering it.

Then to empty the liquid residues that are in the pipes, it must be pumped with the brake pedal. This video explains step by step, how to change the brake fluid.

Change antifreeze

Within the maintenance of a new car is changing the antifreeze. It is very important that you do it with the engine off and cold to avoid burns. The antifreeze liquid is corrosive so you should preferably wear gloves and clean any area that has become dirty during the operation. This process is recommended to be carried out every two years or 40 thousand kilometers.

The first thing you should do to change the antifreeze is to locate the radiator cap and open it. You should do the same with the antifreeze reservoir and the drain valve to drain the old fluid.

Before filling the antifreeze again, the system must be purged to remove impurities. For this, there are special products on the market, but it can also be done with water. You must fill the radiator and then start the car with the heating on and then empty it. This process must be repeated at least twice.

How to change the oil

Regardless of whether you bought a new or used car, you should always change the oil. It is very simple and you can save money if you do it yourself.

First turn off the engine and put on the handbrake , also secure the tires with immobilizers, you can use a tire or a car wheel as some mechanics do.

Raise the car with a jack, try to follow the elevation recommendations that come in the manual. Secure the car with the jack stands and make sure it doesn’t move. Place a large tray under the car to collect the oil and try to have the new oil and filter ready.

Open the hood and remove the oil plug. Under your car you should look for the oil pan, it is a tray near the engine. The mechanics say that to find the crankcase you only have to locate the exhaust pipe and usually next to it is the crankcase, otherwise consult the manual.

Once you locate it, carefully remove the crankcase plug and make sure the oil drips into the tray you placed under the car. Allow all the oil to come out, wait five to ten minutes. Take into account that you will have to change the gasket of the cap to avoid leaks.

How to change the oil filter

To change the filter you must locate it at the bottom of the car, next to the engine. Check if you can remove it manually, otherwise you will have to use a filter clamp. When removing it, make sure that the oil falls into the tray that you had placed.

Before placing the new filter you must fill it with oil halfway, experts recommend that you smear oil on the filter string so that it is easy to remove it the next time. Place it taking care not to cross the ropes, it must enter smoothly.

Replace the oil pan cap and fill it again. Try to use the oil with the characteristics requested by the manufacturer in the manual.

Start your car and accelerate a bit, check that the alert on the dashboard has gone off. Later you must check if the levels are correct . So you know how to measure engine oil, follow these simple steps.

After five minutes of turning off the engine, to allow the engine to cool and the oil to settle, open the hood and check the dipstick and confirm that it is at the proper level, otherwise add more oil, return to start the car, and accelerate so you can check again.

Change air filter

Knowing how to change your air filter is very simple and can save you a bit of money. It will only suffice that you know what type of air filter your car uses.

Usually the air filter is on or to the side of the engine and is covered by a cover fixed by a couple of screws that you will have to remove.

It is recommended to change the air filter every 12,000 kilometers or every 6 months.

Change fuel filter

One more aspect of basic mechanics is knowing how to change the fuel filter. This is located near the engine and it is very easy to change it, if you cannot locate the fuel filter, you should consult your car manual.

How to take care of tires

It is important that you periodically check the condition of your car’s tires since considerable wear will reduce their adherence to the asphalt and therefore increase the risk of an accident.

Check that the tire channels are not badly worn. Some models offer wear marks that indicate when to change them.

Take care that the tires have the necessary pressure to avoid a greater wear and avoid accidents caused by the tires.

Perform regular alignment and balancing to avoid uneven wear on your tires.

There are some systems that are well worth reviewing, however, other problems will require the advice of an expert, so it is preferable to take the car from the beginning with a trusted mechanic.

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