5 Car Secrets Every Driver Should Know

Isn’t it frustrating to spend your time and money taking your vehicle to an auto shop only to learn the problem is something you could have easily fixed yourself? 

Knowledge is power. Therefore, we believe part of our job to educate drivers on how their vehicles work. Be sure to pick our brains whenever you come into the shop.



But for now:



We have five secrets to keep you from needing to make that appointment call.


1. Save yourself a trip to the auto repair shop by taking care of your car battery


If you go to start your car and the engine won’t crank and the electronics (lights, radio, door locks, etc.) won’t work, your car battery might be dead. 



Now, instead of having your vehicle towed to the shop, you can try a few things on your own.


First, check for corrosion on the battery terminals.  

When corrosion builds up on the terminals, it can make for poor connection to the wires. Use a type of acid to clean the terminals--either battery cleaner from your local parts store or even soda pop. Scrub the terminals with a wire brush to help remove the corrosion. 

Oftentimes just a poor battery connection is what’s keeping your car from starting. 



If you’re still having issues:



Attempt to jump start your car. If you don’t know how to do this, there are plenty of videos online that will show you how. All you need is either a car battery charger, or jumper cables and another vehicle. 



After jump starting your vehicle, leave it running for 10-15 minutes. This will allow the battery to be recharged. Sometimes, this is all you need to do as something as simple as leaving a door open overnight can drain the battery. If your car continues to run and start fine, then you’ve fixed it!


2. Know the life of tires by measuring tire tread depth with a penny


Maximizing tire life is important because new tires are expensive. It’s important to know what life stage your tires are in so that you can be prepared and budget for the bill. This knowledge also becomes especially useful when you go to buy a used vehicle. If you know tires on a potential vehicle will need to be replaced soon, you can negotiate that fact into the price of the car. 



To really understand the age and wear of tires, pull out a handy-dandy Abe Lincoln. Placing the penny into the tread (be sure to measure the inner and outer edges, as well as the center of the tire) Abe’s head down, the tread should be covering some or most of the head. If you can see all of Abe’s head, it’s time for new tires. 



3. Gain access to the engine bay through the grill


If something happens such as you lock your keys in your car with the vehicle running, or the hood release latch inside your vehicle is broken, you can usually open the hood through the grill in the front of the vehicle. 



You may need a tool, like a screwdriver, but go ahead and peer inside the front center of the grill. There you’ll find a release latch, though it may look different on every car. Use your fingers or a screwdriver to insert into the grill and press, push or turn the latch. 



Voilá: you’re inside the engine bay.


4. Don’t fret when you hear your brakes squeal


Oftentimes drivers get worried the second they hear a noise from their brakes. After all, who wants to drive with inoperable brakes? 



However, if your brakes are squealing, it may not be an issue other than noise.



It’s common for brakes to make noise when nothing is actually wrong with them. Brake dust, dirt and debris can cause noises that may leave you thinking your brakes need to be repaired. In fact, they may just need to be cleaned or given time for the debris to come off, naturally. 



See if the noise goes away or gets worse over time--then you’ll know for sure. 


5. Save yourself time and $80+ with your own lockout kit


Locking your keys in your car is the worst. And it can especially put you in a tough situation when you’re out of service area for a locksmith. 



Guess what?



You can own your own lockout kit! These kits are not only a lifesaver, they can also earn you great credit with your neighbors. 



While you’ll need to keep the kit somewhere outside of your vehicle, it’ll come in handy whenever you’re in a bind. Check out how they work and you’ll find they are relatively simple-to-use! 

While much of auto repair and maintenance is best left to professionals, you’ll experience a sense of accomplishment and feel more empowered knowing there’s actually much you can do on your own. And when you find it’s over your head, the pros at Community Auto in Fort Collins are here to help. Give us a call or schedule your appointment online!

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