Owning a car is not unlike owning a house; some repairs require a professional to come in and take care of, while others you can do on your own. While there will always be a need for professional auto care technicians (and our Riverton shop has proven repeatedly to be one of the best in the entire state), some people want to try their hand at fixing their car’s issues themselves. Learning a few basic techniques can go a long way to keeping your car road-worthy, while also saving you from feeling like you have to go to the mechanics as often as you were.
Oil Changes and More
Your car’s fluids are some of the easiest things to keep track of, and since most convenience stores and gas stations sell them, you can always top your car off yourself. There are a total of 8 types of fluid you can check in your car.
- Windshield Wiper Fluid: Perhaps the most common type of car fluid you can check yourself, the container housing the washer fluid is a large, typically translucent container at the back of the engine block. You can pour any type of windshield wiper fluid into it﹘just be sure to check the freezing point on the bottle to account for Utah’s average winter temperatures, around 3-31℉ (-16℃).
- Engine Oil: Another common vehicle fluid, the engine oil can be checked with a special dipstick whose handle sticks up out of the engine; it is usually brightly colored and round. The dipstick will tell you the oil’s level and how close it is to needing to be changed. Just wipe it clean with a rag, dip it in the reservoir, and pull it out again. Typically, changing the oil takes about 30 minutes and involves a wrench, jack, oil pan, funnel, filter, gloves, and other tools. If you are looking to save yourself the effort and time, our Riverton crew has oil changes down to an art.
- Coolant: As the name suggests, coolant is used to keep the engine from overheating. The reservoir is also translucent but has hash marks on the side to show the level of the fluid. Remember that coolant is usually mixed, one part coolant/one part water. You may need to premix it yourself first.
- Brake Fluid: Brake repairs can be a multistep process that involves C-clamps, brake pads, and lubricant. Luckily, checking your brake fluid is a much simpler process. There is a large, circular, translucent drum near the back of the engine with the word MAXIMUM or MINIMUM on the side. You’ll want to top off your brake fluid every 40,000 miles or so.
- Transmission Fluid: This is one of the fluids that you’ll have to check with the engine still running. The transmission dipstick is usually located wherever the main drive propellant is coming from, either the front or rear wheels. The fluid should have a pink or reddish hue to it, but if it is any darker or it smells like it’s been burning, then bring in your car for servicing.
- Power Steering Fluid: The reservoir for this fluid will be clearly labeled on top and you can tell with a dipstick if it needs topping off.
Tires and Brake Repair
While we mentioned above, brake repair can be a bit more complicated than the novice mechanic at home is expecting. But there are ways to check if you need to bring the car into our Riverton Master Muffler to get fixed. Tires, too are a major part of the car’s performance that you can manage yourself. Here are a few tips to try at home.
- Checking the Brake Pads: Some brake pads are visible just by looking through the holes of the hubcap, but if you can’t see them then you may need to jack up the car and remove the wheel altogether. Many modern brake pads have a wear indicator (also known as a “squealer”) that scrapes metal against metal when the pad has worn down too thin. If the pad is approaching a quarter of an inch or less, bring your car into us.
- Checking Tire Pressure: As many Utah drivers know, cold air can affect the pressure in your tires and cause leakage. Removing the air nozzle nub from the tire and inserting a pressure gauge will reveal what the pressure is at. There is usually a diagram on the inside of the driver’s door, attached to the chasse, that details the optimal pressure for your tires. You can bring your tires back up to the optimal range by using air at any gas station or asking our team to do it while we give your vehicle a tune-up.
The Best Auto Care in Riverton
Every car owner should have a minimal working knowledge of their vehicle’s systems and how to check them. But doing minor check-ups and refills is a far cry from having the tools, experience, and time to mount full-scale repairs. At Master Muffler in Riverton, we want to work with you to keep your car road-worthy. Give us a call if you feel like your car is giving any sign that it needs more extensive maintenance. We are here to help.