Owning a vehicle in Utah is a sign of freedom! It means you can go where you need to and be in control, even for a short time. But being a car owner also comes with its difficulties. It’s not cheap to pay for or maintain your vehicle, and insurance rates are rising all the time. In order to mitigate the costs of car ownership, you should know how to maintain your vehicle.
As much as they love getting paid for services rendered, there are a few things that all Utah mechanics wish their customers knew about maintaining a vehicle: How to check your oil, jump start a car, and change a tire.
1. How to Check Your Oil
If you’re a good vehicle owner, you’ll get an oil change in Utah once every three months or 3,000 miles if you use regular oil or once every six months or 6,000 miles if you’re using synthetic. Sticking to this schedule is a great way to keep your car in good condition.
However, you can’t rely on this regular schedule to stop every issue. Sometimes, your oil might leak or you’re unable to get to your Utah mechanic on time. You need to be able to check your oil to make sure you’re not running low.
Checking your oil is a very simple process, although it can feel intimidating when you open the hood of your vehicle and see all the gears, belts, and components of the engine. Take a deep breath, and follow these steps to check your oil:
- Turn off your vehicle and wait at least 10 minutes to be sure the oil has cooled and settled.
- Locate the oil dipstick. This is the meter that sticks out of your oil pan to show you how much oil you have. It’s usually located on the left side of the engine, but your owner’s model (or an updated YouTube video) will show you where the dipstick is on your specific vehicle.
- Pull the dipstick from the tube and wipe the existing oil from the stick with a cloth or paper towel.
- Replace the dipstick and then pull it out again. Inspect the bottom of the stick where you’ll see two lines. The oil should be between those two lines, and it should appear somewhat clean. If it’s below the two lines or it’s dark and dirty looking, it probably needs more oil or to be replaced.
It’s as easy as that!
2. How to Jump-Start a Car
Knowing how to jump-start your car will save you from many awkward situations. Remember: If you suspect your battery is frozen, don’t try to jumpstart it. Doing so can damage your vehicle.
Always carry jumper cables and remember the following so you can jump a car whenever necessary:
- Choose a vehicle that is similar to your own. The battery voltage will be similar and you won’t risk an electrical surge.
- The car with the good battery should be off at the start, and both cars should be in neutral with the parking brake engaged. (In some cases, the live car can be idling.)
- Unplug any accessories to prevent a potential power surge.
- If you have them on hand, wear protective equipment like rubber gloves.
The order of connecting the jumper cables is very important:
- Red to Dead: Connect one of the red ends of the jumper cables to the red (+) bolt of the dead car battery.
- Red to Live: Connect the other end to the red positive bolt to the live car battery.
- Black to Live: Connect the black negative (-) jumper cable to the negative bolt of the live car battery.
- Black to Dead: Connect the other black cable to any metal part of the dead car that’s unpainted or protected. Try to put this cable far from the battery. It serves as a grounding cable and putting it away from the dead battery will reduce the risk of sparking.
Start the live car and wait a few minutes before trying the dead car. If all was done right and the battery is okay, it should start up just fine.
Do not shut off the previously dead car until you can have a Utah mechanic check it over. Remove the cables in the opposite order in which you put them on. This is very important to prevent a surge.
3. How to Change a Tire
Changing a tire is another safety essential you won’t regret knowing! The easiest way to learn to change a tire is to watch it being done. Check out YouTube videos until you’re certain you can replicate the process on your own.
A few things to remember:
- Be sure your spare tire is pumped up and in good shape.
- Keep a jack and tire iron in your car at all times!
- Remember to remove the bolts in a star pattern and replace them in the same pattern—this is essential as it will keep your tire from falling off as you drive!
- When you realize your tire is flat, find a safe location to pull over, put your hazard lights on, apply your parking brake, apply the wheel wedges, and be wary of strangers who may stop to offer a hand.
- Drive carefully and slowly on a spare tire, as it’s not made for long trips.
With these three car maintenance items under your belt, you’ll make your Utah mechanics proud! These will save you from expensive car repair bills and uncomfortable situations down the road.