Getting a license to drive is a process that is designed in order to ensure that the public do their due diligence in learning how to operate a motor vehicle safely and in accordance with the law. To obtain a driver’s license, we must go through a series of tests that examine our knowledge about driving. However, no such process is required to properly own and care for a vehicle. In fact, it seems that we buy a car and it’s a wonderful day—then the engine breaks down and reality sets in: you don’t know anything about cars, and you are in over your head with expenses. When you leave the mechanic, you are generally left with more questions and less money—for all you know, you didn’t need to spend half of it. When you notice that your car doesn’t feel right, it helps to know a thing or two about what the cause of the trouble could be. That’s why every car owner should have some kind of basic understanding of the various important parts of a vehicle, and what it can look, sound, or smell like when something goes awry.
It can be difficult to know exactly when various services need to be routinely performed on your car. Finding a trusted automotive expert to properly diagnose any issues with your car is essential, because many dishonest repair shops will suggest services for your car that are unnecessary; it is easy to take advantage of someone who has no choice but to trust their word. Having said that, sometimes when routine maintenance is overlooked for too long, things can go wrong with the other various parts of the vehicle. That’s when your trusted professional comes into play. You can look up reviews online, and be sure to look into the certifications of the shop you choose. However, when in doubt, or lacking a trusted mechanic, follow your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule for preventive maintenance. You can find this in your car manual. The maintenance schedule for your vehicle is designed to keep your car at its most optimal level of performance and maintain the integrity of all the parts that must routinely be inspected and inevitably replaced at some point. Following this guideline can be particularly helpful if you don’t know much about cars.
Secondly, check under the car for fluid leaks frequently before you go anywhere. If you catch a fluid leak relatively quickly, the potential for damage to the rest of the vehicle is lessened. Furthermore, knowing what types of fluids to look for is key; various fluids from different locations on your vehicle will look, smell, and feel different than others. You should know the difference between normal condensation leaking from your air conditioner under the passenger side, and engine oil—a thicker, darker substance coming from the front of the car’s engine. In one instance, where your car is simply dripping water from condensation forming, there is nothing to worry about; in the other dramatically different scenario, your engine could be in grave danger of dying on you and costing you a ton of money if you drive anywhere. It is likely that you will need the help of a trusted mechanic in the latter situation.
Another important, and costly feature of a car that is important to be aware of is the transmission. If a mechanic tells you that you need to replace your car’s transmission, think very carefully about the symptoms that your car was exhibiting. Here are some common signs of a faulty transmission: difficulty, harshness, or lack of response when shifting gears and difficulty accelerating in accordance with utilization of the gas pedal. It may be that your transmission needs to be replaced, but that is dependent upon how severe the damage is. It is also possible that reattaching a hose that came off, or replacing a filter can more easily fix the problem and a fraction of the cost. In any case, when the sited source of problem is with the transmission, do yourself a favor and get a second opinion—you may save yourself over a thousand dollars. There is a lot to know when it comes to automotive knowledge, so find yourself an established, and certified auto mechanic who went through those years of study for you.