Previously we talked about your Automobil’s servicing and oil change needs. This time we will cover points 2 to 10, which include the tyres, window wipers and the fluids of the car.
Once the servicing of your vehicle is out of the way it is time to look at the four tekkies your beloved car wears. By that I mean the tyres.
The tyres are the only points of contact your car has with the road. These four points of contact have some rather important and vital roles: They carry the weight of the vehicle; propel it forward; steer it in the desired direction and slow the car down when the brakes are applied. These are some tough jobs and the tyres take quitea punch. This is why it is crucial to ascertain that they are in top condition before a trip. How do you do this?
- Inspect every tyre. Look for gashes in the rubber or any protrusions (such as nails or metal shards stuck in the tyre).
- Check the tread of the tyres (in layman’s terms the tracks). Legally the tread should be at least 1.6mm deep around the circumference of the tyre, but the deeper the tread the better the handling and braking of your car will be. This is especially important in rainy or snowy weather. A tyre that is as shiny as a bald man’s head is no good.
- See to it that your tyres are pumped to the correct air pressure. You will find the recommended pressure in the owner’s manual of your car, and sometimes also on a sticker on the driver’s door or the fuel filler flap. It is important to note that tyre pressures will be different for a vehicle that is lightly laden compared to one that is fully laden with many passengers and luggage. All this information will be in the above-mentioned spots.
Left-to-Right: Worn tyres – Should be replaced ASAP; only good for a children’s playground;Tyre in good condition.
Now it’s time to look at the spare wheel and jack. Remove them from the car and check that they are in good order. The spare wheel should be in good condition, as the other four tyres on your vehicle. Make sure its air pressure is correct. (Pump it a little harder than the other wheels of your car as it loses some pressure over time lying in the boot of your car).
Together with the jack there should be a crank and a wheel spanner. The crank is used to crank the jack up and down, and the wheel spanner to loosen and fasten the wheel nuts. Ensure you know where to place the jack if you should need to replace a wheel. This information is in your owner’s manual. If you’ve never replaced a wheel before, ask someone who knows how to do it to show you, and have a practice round on your own car.
Let’s talk about the brakes of your vehicle. Ask yourself the following questions. Does your car take long to come to a stop when you apply the brakes and does the brake pedal feel squishy? Does it veer off to the left or right when the brakes are applied? Does the steering wheel vibrate in your hands while applying the brakes? If you have answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to take your car to a service centre and explain the symptom to the technician or service advisor. If your answers to all three questions are a definite no, then your brakes are good to go.
Now it’s time to check the fluids of the car. The brake fluid level and the power steering fluid level can be checked in the engine bay. It’s important to note that many modern cars don’t use power steering fluid anymore as these systems are now electric on many cars. To check these levels, you will have to find the reservoirs in the engine bay. (Refer to owner’s manual). The reservoir will have a minimum and maximum level indication on it. The fluid level must obviously be between these marks.
While you have the bonnet open, also have a look at the coolant level (or water level). There is a reservoir for this as well. The minimum and maximum are also indicated on the side of the reservoir. Make sure the engine is cold when you do this. Under no circumstances should you open this reservoir if the engine is hot as scalding hot water and steam will rush out and burn you.
Most cars these days have warning lights that will indicate if any of these fluids is low.
You can also top up the window washer fluid. This reservoir may be topped up to the brim. For an extra clean windscreen, you may add one drop of dishwashing liquid to this water.
If you have a vehicle with an automatic gearbox, then your automatic transmission fluid (ATF) also needs checking now and then. But once again, if you have a newer car, then the display will indicate should you need to do this. This is also best done by a mechanic.
Make sure that your car does not leak any fluids. This is best done by checking your garage floor in the mornings or your designated parking spot at work in the afternoons. If there are any pools, puddles, or wet stains, don’t be dismayed immediately. Get some of the liquid on your finger and smell it. If it is just clear water, then it is probably just the condensation from the air-conditioner, which is something completely normal. However, if the liquid has a colour to it, or smells like oil, it would be advisable to have it checked out by a qualified technician.
Time to talk about your window wipers. These are very important if it should rain. Lift each wiper from the windscreen and inspect the rubber for tears. If you do not see any tears, take a wet cloth, and wipe the rubbers down to clean them of any debris. Place the window wipers back down on the windscreen. Now get into the car, turn the ignition on and make sure the doors and windows are closed – you do not want to get wet… Now pull the window wiper lever towards you (usually the stalk on the opposite side of the steering column to the turn indicator lever – so if the turn indicator stalk is on the left, the window wiper stalk will be on the right). This should activate the window washers and spray some water on the windscreen. The window wipers should also start wiping the windscreen. If the screen is wiped nice and clean, then your window wipers are fine. If not, then the wiper blades need to be replaced. Ask a knowledgeable buddy to help you with this. It’s a quick and easy job if you have done it before.
Next time we will cover some more points. Happy and safe driving until then.