Buying your own car — whether it’s first-hand or used– is one of the biggest milestones in anyone’s life, no matter how old you are. It’s also an investment that requires on-going maintenance.

Considering how much time and money you spend in and on your car, it’s important to build a good relationship with it. So, if you didn’t already know what these car basics mean, this guide will help you to understand it better.

This way, you’ll know when it’s time to take it in for routine maintenance or a more sinister issue…

1. Car Basics: The Year, Make and Model

It goes without saying that these are the car basics you should know above anything else. The year your car was manufactured tells you how old it is and its resale value down-the-line. This information is also important for maintenance and repair services.

Second, the make and model of the car also important. All of this information is crucial when replacing or maintaining fluids, parts, and car accessories. The overall design and function of a car can change drastically year-by-year. The last thing you need is your car fluids, parts, and accessories being replaced incorrectly.

2. The VIN Number 

This stands for Vehicle Identification Number and is the equivalent of your car’s fingerprint. Okay, so you don’t need to know the 17-digit number by heart, but you should know where to find it. The VIN number identifies the manufacture date and place of your car, the model, engine size, and more. This number stays the same throughout the entirety of a car’s life.

You can find the VIN number on the inside of your car manual, or on the lower corner of the windshield on the driver’s side of the car. Your VIN number is important when taking your car in for repairs or making an insurance claim.

3. Suitable Tire Pressure

Not all car tire pressure is created equal. So it’s important to know the suitable tire pressure of your own vehicle. Tire pressure is an important part of the maintenance of your car. If you neglect it, this can lead to major wear and tear on your tires and steering.

Don’t wait for an issue to come up, make sure to check your tire pressure every few months or so. Your tires should last you up to 50,000 miles if you maintain them correctly. You can generally find the suitable tire pressure of your car in your car manual.

4. Car Engine Oil

Car engine oil is one of those facets of a perfectly running car that’s completely overlooked until an issue crops up. The function of engine oil is not to fuel your car. It’s used to cool, clean, and lubricate your engine so your car runs smoothly.

When engine oil runs dry, three dangerous things can happen. The first is thermal degradation which causes lacquer and carbonaceous deposits in your engine. The second is oxidation, and the third is compressive heating which produces soot and tar in your engine and exhaust. Once these three things start to happen, this creates friction in your engine. This causes a build-up of dirt in the cylinder walls, bearings, and rings, which eventually leads to overheating.

With this in mind, it’s important to regularly check your engine oil. To do this, you need to know how to read a dipstick.

Dipstick tests tell you whether there’s too much or too little oil running through your engine. It also gives you a reading on the quality of the oil. As a general rule-of-thumb, the dipstick should not have any grit on it when dipped into your engine oil. If so, it’s time for an oil change.

The same goes for that yellow engine oil light. Don’t ignore it when it comes on — get your oil checked out ASAP and change it if needs be!

5. Various Vehicle Fluids

Aside from engine oil, your car also runs on a number of other important fluids that each perform their own important job. It’s crucial to check these fluids regularly too. Five car fluids to be aware of are engine oil, vehicle coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluids, and windshield fluid.

Take some time to read through your car manual and learn the vehicle fluid symbols on your dashboard. This way, when one of them starts flashing, you know which vehicle fluid requires attention.

6. Vehicle Shocks and Struts

The overall construction of your vehicle is comprised of many moving parts. Some of these include vehicle shocks and struts which help your car move smoothly over bumpy surfaces.

If your car is on the older side and you hear constant rattling or your car tends to rock back and forth, this could mean your shocks or struts need attention.

7. The Air Filter System

Your vehicle air filter system performs an important job in filtering out dirt from your engine. You should check your air filter system every six months, and change air filters accordingly.

A clogged air filter system causes your engine to work harder than it should. This could chew into your fuel consumption or cause your engine to overheat.

8. Vehicle Braking System

Your vehicle’s braking system should never be neglected. In order to keep an eye on it, make a point of observing how your vehicle reacts when your brake.

If your steering wheel shakes, or you hear a grinding or scraping sound, it’s time to check out your brake pads. You should also regularly check your car’s stability control system as well as the anti-lock braking system (ABS).

Find Reputable, High-Quality Auto Repair

At Vivid Auto Body Shop we specialize in the maintenance and repair of all makes of vehicle. Whether it’s car basics, auto collision, or hail damage repair, our gold-certified, family-owned enterprise is here to take care of your vehicle needs in the McKinney, Texas region.

Looking for an obligation-free estimate? Get in touch with our team today for more.