Do it yourself – How to take the reins of your car’s maintenance |

Do it yourself – How to take the reins of your car’s maintenance

If you’ve thought about doing some routine car maintenance on your own, Nevada Union High School juniors Johnny Schies and Gavin Braid show you here that a procedure such as changing your oil isn’t as difficult as it might seem.

The students in teacher Len Menges’ automotive technology class spent a recent morning changing the oil and replacing the air filter and oil filter on a 2001 GMC Safari minivan. The process was completed in just under half an hour. The total cost for the oil, filter and air filter was $32.34. Menges and his students also can vouch for the importance of knowing key automotive processes such as checking your tire pressure and jump-starting your car. Following are the steps for all three.

Jump-starting your vehicle

Step 1: Locate your battery’s positive (red or marked with plus sign) and negative (black or minus sign) terminals.

Step 2: Pull the cars next to each other, making sure they don’t touch.

Step 3: Connect the positive (red) clamp of the jumper cable to the dead battery’s positive terminal.

Step 4: Connect the other positive clamp to the positive terminal of the battery in the working vehicle.

Step 5: Connect the negative (black) clamp of the cable to the negative terminal of the battery in the working vehicle.

Step 6: Connect the other negative clamp of the cable to a safe metal surface, such as the dead vehicle’s engine block. This serves as a grounding device.

Step 7: Start the car with the working battery. Then attempt to start the car with the dead battery.

Step 8: To remove the cables, reverse the order in which you put the clamps on.

Source: American National Standards Institute

Changing your oil

Step 1: Remove the drain plug from the oil pan. Generally, you’ll need to unscrew the plug from the bottom of the oil pan. This will release the oil from the pan. Oil must be disposed of properly and recycled. Draining of the oil should be done when the engine is warm to ensure any sludge flows smoothly. The oil can be taken to a recycling center or oil-change facility.

Step 2: Using an oil-filter wrench (about $5 from a hardware store), unscrew the oil filter. The new oil filter can then be hand-screwed in. It helps to apply a thin layer of new oil to the rubber gasket of the new oil filter to help lubricate it.

Step 3: Replace the drain plug.

Step 4: Replace old oil with new oil in the crankcase under the hood. It’s important to check the oil level by removing the dipstick and checking the level when the engine is cold. A dipstick generally has an indicator on it that tells when the crankcase is low on oil.

Step 5: Check and, if, needed, replace the air filter. The air filter allows the flow of air into an engine and shields dirt from entering into the engine. Generally, air filters are made from paper, though there are others made from cotton. Len Menges, who runs the automotive technology class at Nevada Union, said the filter should be changed every 5,000 miles.

Source: Nevada Union automotive technology class

Checking your tire pressure

This simple procedure can help you avoid several driving hazards and ensure you’re getting the best miles per gallon of gas.

Step 1: Find the ideal tire pressure by looking on the sidewall of your tire. The correct pressure is found in pounds per square inch (PSI).

Step 2: Use an air pressure gauge by inserting the round end into the stem of the tire. That will tell you how much air, in pounds per square inch, is in your tire.

Underinflation can be caused by changes in air temperature. Generally speaking, the warmer the air temperature, the quicker the loss of air pressure in tires.

Over-inflated tires can lead to a loss of traction, and underinflated tires can create excess stress or heat, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

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