How much do you really know about your car? Chances are, there are some weird car features you don’t even know you have, but because cars today are so smart, there’s probably a lot more that you don’t realize every time you get behind the wheel.
Cars are so smart that you don’t have to know a lot of this stuff when you’re driving. However, cars don’t operate like new for long. Eventually something will go wrong, and when it does, it pays to know a little bit about your car. Not only does it mean you may be able to do a few things yourself, but if you know what you’re talking about, you’re less likely to be taken advantage of when you take your car in to get it repaired.
The Numbers on Your Tire
Tires can be expensive. They are especially expensive if you’re relying on the dealership or a mechanic to replace your tires when the time comes. Armed with the right information, you can order your tires yourself, giving you the ability to compare prices before you hand over hundreds of dollars.
How do you know what kind of tires to get? Take a look at your existing tires. Every tire has a code that is manufactured into the rubber along the rim. That number can tell you:
- Tire type
- Tire width
- Aspect ratio
- Wheel diameter
- Load index
- Speed rating
Armed with this information, you can purchase new tires on your own. If you do decide to have your tires replaced by a professional, you’ll at least know what you’re talking about!
Year, Make, and Model
Other information that you should know includes the year, make, and model of your vehicle. It’s information that every mechanic wants to know before working on your car, and it’s information you may need to know if you travel to a busy city. You may have to register your car with the front desk when you use their parking lot.
While you’re at it, make sure you know the number on your license plate as well. This information is needed when you register your vehicle with state agencies, and once again, some businesses if you’re using their parking lot in a busy area.
The Vehicle’s VIN Number
The VIN number is an important vehicle number that many drivers don’t know or understand. This number acts as your car’s unique fingerprint. Its combination of numbers and letters can tell you more about your vehicle so you can do things like track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, theft, and insurance coverage.
There’s no need to memorize your car’s VIN number. It is really long! Just make sure you know how to find it. That way, if you’re ever asked to provide this number, you can locate it and tell someone else exactly what it is without confusion.
What the Check Engine Light Means
Do you panic when the check engine light comes on? It’s true that it can mean something serious, but the check engine light may also indicate that there’s a problem that’s easily fixed. It could be something as simple as a loose gas cap!
It’s also possible that your car is having trouble communicating because something is wrong with the connections. The check engine light is telling you that something is wrong simply because it can’t tell if you if something is wrong or not.
Assuming it isn’t your gas cap, take your car to an auto parts store and have them read the code for you. When they tell you what’s wrong, you can decide if and when you schedule an appointment with a mechanic.
How Often to Change Your Oil
Don’t rely on the sticker in your window to tell you when to have your oil changed. It turns out that different vehicles need to have their oil changed at different times.
For example, if you have a car that you drive in town, only going 10 miles or less every trip, you may want to change your oil every 1,000 miles or so. If your car uses synthetic oil, you may be able to go as long as 10,000 miles! Check with your car’s manufacturer and schedule oil changes according to your specific car—not necessarily what the mechanic recommends.
There’s a lot more to car ownership than knowing how to drive it. Knowing these things about your vehicle will make it easier, and in some cases more affordable, to get it fixed when the time comes.