You depend on your car to get where you are going and your car depends on you. It starts and runs every day thanks to your efforts to maintain it. As you already know, it’s not too difficult to keep your car in good shape.
Here are the basics, read more details below:
Fluids: Keep engine oil, coolant and other fluids clean and topped up.
Wipers: Change your wipers at least once a year.
Lights: Do all of your brake lights work?
Battery: Watch out for corrosion at the battery terminals, it will cause problems.
Tires: Rotate tires regularly and maintain proper pressure.
Filters: Your car has an engine air filter and a cabin air filter. Both will need to be replaced when dirty.
Tune-up: To keep running, your car will need spark plugs, a drive belt and a few other items done.
Timely repairs: Recognize the warning signs of potential problems and repair them before they cause expensive repairs.
Annual inspection: At least once a year, have your brakes, suspension, steering and other parts checked out by a trusted mechanic to keep your car safe.
Know your car: Read your car owner’s manual, it has a lot of information on car maintenance as well as safety precautions.
How to check engine oil
Many modern cars consume oil between oil changes and most don’t have any warning light to warn you if the oil level is low. Driving low on oil can cause engine problems.
Check the engine oil level regularly, especially if you notice that it drops between the oil changes.
Warm up the engine. Park your vehicle on a level spot. Set the parking brake. Make sure the transmission is in “Park.” Stop the engine. Wait for a minute or two to let engine oil drain into the oil pan.
Find the engine oil dipstick, usually it has a bright handle saying “Engine Oil”. Careful, it’s probably hot.
You can find the instructions and location of the oil dipstick in the Maintenance section in your owner’s manual.
Careful, the dipstick might be hot. Pull the dipstick out and wipe it off with a clean towel. Insert it back fully. Pull it out again and check the oil level.
Your engine depends on the proper level of clean oil to last
The oil level should be between the “Low” and “Full” marks. We recommend keeping it closer to the “Full” mark. If the level is low, top it up.
Some cars and trucks have a crossed section on the dipstick instead of the marks. It works the same way, see how to read it in your owners manual.
Check the oil condition: If it’s way too black, it’s time for an oil change. If it’s like in the top image, have the oil change done or at least top the level up.
If it’s a little dark, but still clean and transparent, as in the lower photo, good job! Keep following the maintenance schedule.
How to top up engine oil
Check the oil grade on the oil filler cap
To top up engine oil, use the recommended oil grade. The most common oil grades in Nigeria are 0W-20, 5W-20, 5W-30 and 20W-50, . You can find it in your owner’s manual, or on the oil filler cap. See the photo.
If your engine needs synthetic oil, use only synthetic oil.
To top up, open the oil filler cap and add a small amount of oil. Use a funnel if needed. Wipe the spill with a towel.
How to top up:
Open the oil filler cap and add a small amount of oil. Wait for a couple of minutes to let oil to flow into the oil pan. Check the oil level again with the dipstick. If it’s still low, add some more, but don’t overfill it.
Don’t forget to install the dipstick back and close the oil filler cap when you are done.
Corroded battery terminals will cause many problems
Check the battery condition visually. If you see any leaks, cracks or other damage, the battery needs to be replaced. Check the battery terminals to see if they are tight and not corroded. Corrosion at the battery terminals will cause poor electrical connection, which can result in all kinds of problems, including a no-start and Check Engine light.
See this photo of the battery terminals that caused a no-start problem. You may find tips on how to clean the battery terminals in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Be careful, that white flaky corrosion stuff is very acidic. Servicing battery terminals at a roadside workshop costs from N500 to N700. If a battery is more than 3 years old, it might need to be replaced soon. The first sign that your battery is getting weaker is when the dash lights dim and the engine turns over slower when you are starting it. Your mechanic can do a battery test to see if your battery is still OK.