Unfortunately, some owners know very little about their vehicles except for how to fill them with fuel and how to keep the windscreen washer fluid topped up.
When a dashboard warning light comes on, do you know what to do?
Do you ignore it or take a detour straight to your local mechanic?
Unfortunately, some owners know very little about their vehicles except for how to fill them with fuel and how to keep the windscreen washer fluid topped up. But there are some essential things that we think you should know about your vehicle.
1. Make the Owner’s Manual Your Bible
The best way to learn about your vehicle is to read the owner’s manual. If you’ve never opened it before, retrieve it from the glove compartment and take a look. There’s no need to read it from cover to cover, but you will see that each aspect of the vehicle has its own section making it easy to find out the information you need. Whether you have an issue with an engine warning light, a tyre problem, a brake problem or you simply don’t know how to adjust your seat – your first port of call should be to have a look in the owner’s manual.
2. Ask Questions to Eliminate the Fear Factor
Many drivers are reluctant to ask questions about their vehicle or the work a mechanic is carrying out. We recommend that you put that fear aside. For example, if you have an oil leak ask the mechanic how bad it is on a scale of one to ten. If it’s a three, it may mean that it’s not a big deal. If it’s a 10, it may indicate more serious problems that need to be rectified as soon as possible.
And don’t be afraid to ask your mechanic to show you the problem. If they are reluctant or say you can’t go into the garage because of health and safety or insurance reasons, ask them to bring the car outside and show you exactly what the problem is.
3. Master the Basics
Whether you are male or female, young or old, a new or experienced driver, you should know and understand some of the basics about your car. Things such as how to open the engine compartment, how to check tyre pressures and oil, water and other fluid levels are basic things that all drivers should know.
However, it’s also important to master a couple of things that will prove invaluable in two common situations. These are how to jump start your car and how to change a tyre.
Imagine the scenario. You’re stuck late at night and your battery’s flat, or you’ve spotted a flat tyre. You don’t have breakdown cover and even if you did, your phone has run out of battery or there is no mobile coverage! Being able to jump start your car or change a tyre could mean the difference between staying stuck until you can find help and getting yourself out of a potentially sticky situation. Plus, with this knowledge, you’ll be able to help other drivers who didn’t have the foresight to master these basics.
4. Let Your Senses Be Your Guide
When you’re driving around in your car, be aware of any unusual smells and also any unusual noises.
For example, if you can smell something reminiscent of sweet syrup, 90% of the time it means that there’s an issue within the vehicle’s cooling system. If you smell something that reminds you of a burning carpet, it could be that your brakes are very low and need replacing. A smell of rotten eggs? Your catalytic converter may be clogged or there could be a restriction inside the exhaust system.
Unusual noises also suggest problems. If you hear squealing, grinding or growling noises, your brakes need attention. Squealing noises usually indicate that the brake pads are almost at the point where they need replacing while grinding or growling sounds mean that the pads are so worn that metal is now touching metal. Whining or ‘singing’ noises may indicate an issue with your wheel bearings.
In short, if you experience persistent and unusual smells and noises in your vehicle, it’s best to get it checked out.
And there you have it – four things we’d like all vehicle owners to know. How many can you tick off the list?