Check the oil
Experts suggest that you check the oil level in your car once a week to keep it running smoothly. If the levels become too low, the engine will wear out faster. If it becomes so low that the oil pressure warning light comes on, the engine can be destroyed in a matter of seconds.
Don’t forget to also have your oil changed every 3,000 miles or every six months. Oil breaks down as it is used and, if it isn’t changed often, your engine will not perform as well. Ignoring oil changes completely, over time, can cause major problems in your engine.
Step 1. First, your car has to be level to get a proper reading. You can check the oil if the car is cold — for example, after sitting all night. You can check it while it is hot — for example, during a long trip. If you check the engine during a drip, turn the car off and let it settle for about five minutes so the oil can return to a resting state.
Step 2. Open the hood. Locate the dipstick. There are typically two dipsticks in an engine, one for the oil and one for the transmission. Each should be labeled. If they are not, transmission fluid is reddish pink. Oil is light brown when it is fresh, dark brown when it used or burnt.
Step 3. Have a napkin or rag in one hand (in a pinch, I used a new diaper), and pull the dipstick out with the other hand. If you are checking a cold engine, do not wipe the stick. If you are checking a hot engine, wipe the stick as you pull it out. Then, slide the stick back in for two seconds and pull it out immediately. Turn the stick slightly sideways so the warm oil doesn’t run down the stick.
Step 4. On the stick, there are two lines. If the oil residue is between these two marks, your oil level is good. If the residue is below the bottom line, you most likely need to aid oil.
Step 5. Adding oil can be a difficult and painstaking procedure. You must add oil sparingly and continue to check the level, frequently, as you add. If you add too much oil, the extra fluid will cause your engine to blow a seal and will cause a major oil leak. This may not sound like a big deal, but when this happens, the entire engine has to be pulled from the vehicle to fix the problem and in some cases, the transmission has to be rebuilt. And it does happen. I killed my very first car this way.
Step 6. To determine what kind of oil you need, look on the oil filler cap, which will normally have the type written on it. If it’s not there, check the vehicle’s owner manual. If you’re still unsure, go to a local parts store, and they can recommend the right type.
Step 5. When you add the oil, look for the oil filler cap, which is not necessarily near the dipstick. It should be clearly labeled. Open this cap, carefully pour very small amounts of oil in and then check the level again.
Step 6. If when you add oil, or when you check your oil, the residue on the dipstick is over the top line on the stick, you have too much oil and, again, could cause damage to your engine. The oil needs to be drained. This requires you crawl under the car, and your best bet is to take the car to a garage. It is a simple procedure but horribly messy. Do not drive the vehicle once you realize you have too much oil. Driving slow will not prevent possible damage.
How to jump start your battery
Step 1. Begin by determining whether your battery is dead. If the interior lights are out or if the motor makes a “click, click, click” sound when you try to start the car, your battery is probably dead. Batteries die fastest in extreme cold and extreme heat.
Step 2. Borrow a working vehicle and a set of jumper cables if you do not have some. Park the cars nose to nose or side by side, depending on the length of the jumper cables. Leave the borrowed car running.
Step 3. One set of jumper cables has four ends. The cables are split into two colors. Connect one end of the cable to the dead battery. Put one color on the positive side (clearly marked) and one color on the negative side. It doesn’t matter what color you choose, but you must match the same color to the positive and the same color to the negative when connecting to the live battery. A good rule of thumb to avoid confusion is to always use the black cable on the negative sides.
Step 4. Connect the other ends of the cables to the live battery. Again, be careful to match the colors. Use one color only for both positive sides and one color only for both negative sides. If you criss-cross the colors, you will cause a spark and could short the car’s electrical systems, which is really expensive to fix.
Step 5. Once connected, let the cars sit to allow the good battery to put some juice into the dead battery. After about five minutes, try to start your car. If it starts, leave it running, disconnect the cables from the batteries and immediately drive to an auto parts store. The store has equipment that can test whether the battery is good or bad. It also can test the alternator to see if it is charging the battery. These tests cannot be done by a home technician. If any of these problems exist, you will need a new battery or alternator. If you do not fix the problem immediately, your battery will continue to die, leaving you stranded, again.
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