I must admit…I’m a girly-girl when it comes to our vehicles. I have always just left that kind of thing up to the men in my life; even when I was single! I decided that in the spirit of my newfound blogdom, I would learn some basics and pass it on in an easy to follow kind of way for gal‘s like me! Also, why take it to the shop for something simple that you can do yourself!

What should I look for (as far as problems) when buying a used car?

1. Check under the car where it is parked to see if there are any fluid leaks on the pavement.

2. Check all safety features such as seatbelts, wipers, brakes, headlights, and horn are functioning properly.

3. Make sure they have repair/maintenance  receipts to show you.

4. Make sure the emissions are not thick black smoke…actually no smoke is better!

5. When taking it for a test drive, make sure there are no unusual clicks, clanks, or other non-normal sounding noises.

6. Make sure it accelerates, shifts, and brakes properly.

7. Don’t get ripped off! When in doubt, ask if you can have the car looked over by a certified mechanic before purchasing it.

8. Always offer less than the asking price.

9. When a car has been in an accident, many people will use something called “Bondo” to make repairs. Don’t be fooled, a car that’s been in an accident can lead to trouble down the road…literally. A simple way to check is to use magnets around the wheels, front, and rear. Lightly tapping on panels and listening to the sound will also give you a clue.

How to check the oil in your car yourself:

1. Open the car’s hood and find the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out from the engine and wipe any oil off from its end.

2. Insert the dipstick back into its tube and push it all the way back in.

3. Pull it back out, and this time look at both sides of the dipstick to see where the oil is on the end.

Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, whether it be the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN and MAX, or simply an area of crosshatching. If it’s between the marks then the level is fine.

The oil should be light black or brown. If it is milky then you might have coolant leaking into your oil. If this is the case you should probably get it to your mechanic right away!

To add oil:

1. Remove the oil filler cap, usually located on top of the engine.

2. Start by adding about half a quart. Use a funnel.

3. Wait a minute or so and check the dipstick again. If the level is still below or near the minimum mark, add the rest of the quart.

4. Screw the oil filler cap back on securely, and you’re done.

The type of oil your car needs depends on the manufacturer and you will need to check. Ours have always used 10W 40.

How to Check a Vehicle’s Coolant/Antifreeze yourself:

This is very important as it cools your engine.

Since the 1970s, most vehicles have a coolant recovery tank or overflow reservoir, which makes checking the fluid level a lot easier and safer.

(see photo for where this is located.)

You can tell how full it is in some cases by looking at the side at the full line.

Use a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Make sure engine is cold when adding it. There is no guess-work with this because you can see through the reservoir as it is filling.

How to check fuses yourself:

Maybe your backup lights, turn signals, fan, radio, or  interior lights stopped working. It could just be a blown fuse! The fuse box is usually located behind a small cover, below your dash, to the left of the steering wheel. You will have to check your cars manual if it’s not. Your manual will also have a numerical chart for which fuses correspond to which function. This is how you will determine which one will need replacing.

If you can’t get them out with your hands, a tweezers will work. If the metal link inside the fuse is separated, the fuse is bad. If not, then it’s still good and can be reinstalled.

Replace a fuse using the exact same amperage rating as the blown one. If your car did not come with spares, you can buy them at your local auto parts store.

To change a tire:

1. Find a flat and solid place to change the tire and put your parking brake and emergency flasher lights on.

2. Find a rock or piece of concrete to place in front and behind all four tires.

3. Place the jack under the frame near the tire that you are going to change. Ensure that the jack is in contact with the metal portion of your car’s frame. This is VERY important!
4. Raise the jack until it is supporting the car. (It shouldn’t be lifting the car up, just supporting it!)

5. Remove the hub cap and loosen the nuts by turning counter-clockwise. Don’t take them all the way off .

6. Use the wrench that came with your car or a standard cross wrench. A correctly sized wrench will slip easily over the nut, but will not rattle.

7. It might take a lot of force to break your lug nuts free.

8. Pump or crank the jack to lift the tire off the ground. You need to lift it high enough to remove the flat tire and replace it with a spare.
9. Remove the nuts the rest of the way. Turn them counter-clockwise until they are loose. Repeat with all lug nuts, then remove the nuts completely.
10. Place the spare tire on the hub. Take care to align the rim of the spare tire with the wheel bolts, then put on the lug nuts.
11. Using the wrench, tighten the nuts as much as possible. To ensure the tire is balanced, don’t completely tighten the nuts one at a time. Take turns tightening little by little on each nut until they are all equally tightened.

12. Lower the car to the ground and remove the jack. Finish tightening the nuts and replace the hub cap.

I hope all you females out there will give these basics a try yourself sometime…I am woman, hear me roar!

Thanks for reading.

8 responses

  1. I probably won’t, unless I have to, but I sure appreciate you compiling all that info!

    • Thank-you and I feel the same way…BUT you never know when you might have to do it yourself! For some reason I feel liberated just knowing that I CAN if I want too!

  2. slowborg says:

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw yeeeah! Excellent post! Because I am a car jinx I have learned quite a bit about cars the hard way. This was an incredibly informative and detailed post it must have taken you hours! I would love to see more on this topic. For instance, what should mechanics be doing typically on a minor and major service? I recommend keeping a log of exactly when things have been done, because even when I’ve specifically asked (we women get treated like imbociles don’t we) they won’t change my darn fuel filter. I’ve learned how to do it myself. It should be done on my 4×4 every 20,000kms which means only once every two or three services, and if a simple log isn’t kept a lady can be left sputtering in the middle of nowhere with a clogged up fuel filter!
    Really really loved this post x

    • I should have included info of fuel filters! My son has done so many for me, so it didn’t even dawn on me that it’s something I could be doing myself! I really appreciate your feedback as always!

      • slowborg says:

        I feel pretty special doing mine because I have to take the battery out to get to it! Proud of myself 🙂
        We are woman hear us roar!

  3. I bought a car which had been in an accident, though I didn’t realise until I was selling it and the dealer of my new car did an inspection then asked questions. Coincidentally, I then found amongst my paperwork for the one I was selling evidence of the repairs. Had I known what I was looking at 18 months previously, I would never have bought it as it cost me A LOT in repairs. I am still daunted by the thought of car maintenance, in case I get something wrong but good that you can change a tyre etc 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    i thought that it was a good post!

  5. Gina's Professions for PEACE says:

    I love this info! Thank you so much. 🙂