Check Your Transmission Fluid Regularly to Avoid a Nasty Surprise

Transmission fluid is something that you need to keep an eye on before there is a problem. Once your transmission starts behaving oddly or making noise, then it may be a much bigger problem than a simple fluid check. If you check your own transmission fluid about once a month, you will be keeping your transmission in good repair and should get early warning of possible problems. Considering how expensive transmission repair can be, it’s worth taking a few minutes every month to keep things in good running order.

It’s important that your car be parked on level ground when checking the transmission fluid. The engine should be running and the transmission should be placed in neutral. Remove the transmission dipstick and wipe it with a clean, lint-free cloth. Then reinsert the dipstick and draw it back out. Check the fluid level on the stick. There are two placed marked, one for “full hot” and the other for “full cold.” Compare the fluid level to the appropriate mark, depending on the temperature of the transmission fluid. If the fluid appears to be below the full mark, then you need to add transmission fluid.

In most cars, the transmission fluid will be added to the tube that also holds the dipstick. Make sure the fluid you add is clean, new and appropriate for your make and model. Dirt is one of the biggest enemies of your transmission. Avoid overfilling your transmission because this can cause poor shifting and puts unnecessary strain on the various gaskets and seals in your transmission.

Your owners manual can provide you with essential information, especially the type of fluid you should be adding to your specific vehicle. You should also check out the maintenance schedule to make sure you change your transmission fluid at the right time. It certainly doesn’t need to be changed as often as your oil, but changing your transmission fluid when recommended will keep your gears shifting happily ever after.

Changing Your Headlight Bulbs

There are several reasons why you might want to change your headlight bulbs. For one thing, the existing bulbs may have burned out leaving you with reduced visibility at night. Or, your headlight bulbs might still be working, just not as good as they used to. As headlight bulbs age, they tend to lose their brightness compared to when they were new. Regardless of the reason for the replacement, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind as you look for the best replacement headlight bulbs for your vehicles.

It’s always a good idea to buy headlight bulbs in pairs. One thing this does is ensure there is a balance between them in terms of how much light is produced. By replacing both headlight bulbs at the same time, even if both aren’t burned out, you can avoid having to replace the remaining bulb right away. If one has burned out, the other is almost sure to follow soon.

Also, if you are upgrading the technology or brightness of the bulbs, then you want the bulbs to match. Having mismatched headlight bulbs could cause problems with your electrical system. The difference in light output would also be noticeable when driving at night.

When it comes time to install your new headlight bulbs, you should avoid touching them as much as possible. A good solution for this is to wear latex gloves when working with your headlights. The natural oils of your hands can actually reduce the life of headlight bulbs.

Finally, make sure that the bulbs you purchase are well within legal limits. It is actually possible to purchase super-bright xenon bulbs that may help you see well, but could be blinding to oncoming traffic. These types of bulbs should only be used if you’ll be driving somewhere other than on the public highways.

How to Change Your Own Oil

To ensure that your car is operating at top performance it is important that the car engine is given the recommended oil change at regular intervals. There are manuals that dictate how the car is to be serviced when it comes to the oil change with most cars requiring an oil change at least after every 3,000 miles.

The question is not whether to change the oil, but rather the question is who should do it? Can you do it yourself? Or should you take it to a mechanic? It is very possible for one to do an oil change by following a few simple steps.

First of all, you want to make sure that the car’s engine has cooled off. You actually want the oil warm so it will drain freely from the engine. But at the same time you want to avoid the possibility of burns from hot engine oil.

Next, find the oil drain plug. This is pretty simple to locate on most cars. It will be located under the car on the oil pan. It will probably be the only obvious bolt that you see. Make sure you have an appropriate container to catch and hold the oil as it’s drained. Loosen the drain plug and allow all of the oil to drain into your container. Then carefully replace the drain plug.

You also need to replace the oil filter whenever you change the oil. The oil filter may not be quite as easy to find as the drain plug. It is usually on the bottom or side of the engine and often looks like a soda can. Use an oil filter wrench to remove the filter. Clean the engine where the filter was attached with a clean, lint-free cloth. Put some clean oil on your finger and moisten the new filter’s gasket with oil. Then screw the new filter on until it fits snugly. Don’t over tighten it, and don’t use the wrench. Just hand tightening it is enough.

Next, go up top, open the hood and find the oil filler cap. You will probably want to use a funnel to avoid spilling oil onto the engine. Fill the engine with the oil type and amount specified in your owner’s manual. Replace the oil filler cap.

Finally, start the engine and let it run for a minute or so. Shut it off and then check the oil level using the dipstick. Add any oil if necessary. Otherwise, that’s it! You’ve just changed your own oil.

Get the Right Battery Tester for your Car

Without a properly functioning battery, your car is not going to go anywhere very fast. A bad battery has been the cause of many inconveniences and postponed journeys. However, you could avoid be surprised by a bad battery if you would buy this one simple tool. A car battery tester is designed to let you know when your battery isn’t up to the task. Battery testers are available in different models and capacities. It’s important to make sure you get the right one for your car’s electrical system.

The most important thing is to get the right tester for the specific load required by your vehicle. If the load ranges don’t match up, then you’re likely to get a false reading. This may lull you into a false sense of security about your battery’s health and you could end up stranded on the highway.

When testing your battery, you also have to keep in mind two environmental factors: temperature and humidity. These external conditions, especially temperature, can have a big impact on how your batter operates. Warmer temperatures usually make things easier for your battery, while cold temperatures make it work harder. That’s why so many weak batteries don’t make it through the winter season.

Check your car owner’s manual to determine the load that your battery needs to produce. It will probably be listed in “cold cranking amps” (CCA). Once you know this number, you can start shopping for a battery tester that is suitable for your car. Many battery tester manufacturers will also provide a table you can use to find your car’s year, make and model to determine which battery tester is recommended.

Of course, if you only have one car and you don’t suspect a problem with your battery, you may be able to get it tested at a local auto parts store.

Two Ways Your Spark Plug Wires Could Be Wrecking Your Performance

Your car’s engine could be in tip-top shape with all systems running perfectly, but if there’s a single problem in one of your spark plug wires, it could bring the whole engine to a screeching halt. Well, maybe not a screeching halt. But it will certainly have a negative effect on your engine’s performance. You simply won’t be getting as much out of it as you could be. Let’s take a look at some of the problems you might encounter with your spark plug wires.

One thing that can happen to spark plug wires is cracking. You probably know this, but your engine can generate a lot of heat. I mean a LOT of heat. Everything under your hood has to exist in this high temperature environment. Over time, some materials start to break down, even if they were designed for the heat. This includes the rubber used in your spark plug wire’s insulation and the boots on each end. If these materials become cracked, it could allow electrical current to leak from the wire. The result is that the spark plug wouldn’t fire hot enough to ignite the fuel in your engine. Cracked spark plug wires can cause misfires and knocking, while totally wrecking your fuel economy.

Increased resistance is another problem that can happen with spark plug wires. Again, the longer they are used, the more likely you are to face this problem. Resistance refers to the natural quality that materials have to impede the flow of electricity. Obviously, you want electricity to flow as freely as possible between your coil and your spark plugs. Good spark plug wires have low resistance when they are new, but the resistance can rise over time with use. Above a certain level, the spark from the coil may not make it to the spark plug, again leading to misfires.

To diagnose either of these issues, you need to remove your spark plug wires. Cracking can be found by a visual inspection. Check the resistance with a digital multimeter. If you find cracks or high resistance in any wire, replace all of them.

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