It would not be entirely inaccurate to say that most car owners are intimidated by engines that power modern-day automobiles. And you really can’t blame them. They might be more fuel efficient and offer way more power across segments as compared to older car engines, but there is this perception – not altogether unwarranted – that only qualified technicians can work on them. Now, that does not mean that car owners today cannot do some maintenance and tinkering under the hood. Most contemporary cars have yellow markings under the hood that guide you towards areas that are DIY-friendly. Here’s how you could go about maintaining the health of your car.
A coolant, which is a mixture of distilled water and an alcohol, does what its name suggests – it prevents a car’s engine from overheating. Coolants circulate in a series of pipes inside the radiator, and car owners should ensure that the engine is never short of it. But here’s the thing: you should wait for the car to cool down before opening the radiator cap and reservoir. Since these are pressurised, you could be at risk of getting scalded. Ideally, one should inspect the fluid level before going on a long drive. The optimum level is somewhere at max, or around that point. In case the level of coolant is low while you are on the road, you could always top-up with plain water. But always remember to add a coolant premix from your dealer or a fuel station.
A coolant prevents a car’s engine from overheating
The battery is another element that a car owner can keep a check on. Make it a point to inspect both terminals every couple of months. These should be free from dirt and rust/oxidation. In case you need to clean them, use a clean cloth and toothbrush, and then apply a coat of petroleum jelly. The petroleum jelly will help keep oxidation and rust at bay.
Battery terminals should be free from rust and oxidation
Usually, a brake warning light points to low brake fluid, which is caused by pads that are worn out. But you should get to the root of the matter as soon as possible, as it could also indicate something more serious. Check if the brake-fluid level is indeed low, and use the recommended grade for your car (you’ll find details in the owner’s manual).
Brake warning light points to low brake fluid
Windshield washer reservoir
Top-up your windshield washer fluid. It’s a simple job – just pour in clean water. Of course – windshield washer fluid works as well, if that’s your style.
And topping up windshield washer reservoir is a simple job
Lastly, just before you shut the car’s bonnet, take a quick look at the oil level – it’s among the most critical checks you can perform (refer to the previous instalments of this DIY series). Happy driving!