Under the hood of your vehicle is a plastic container that contains the fluid for your windshield wipers. Is it full of liquid? If not, you can fill it with any one of a variety of windshield washer solutions — you can even use a home window cleaner. Just don’t use detergent, which can leave a residue that can plug up your lines. Plus, it isn’t easy to drive with suds all over your windshield!
Pay attention to the kind of windshield washer fluid you use. Some are concentrated, which means that you need to mix them with water before adding them to the reservoir.
If you live in an area that gets cold in the winter, consider a premixed washer solution that contains antifreeze. This solution comes in quart and gallon sizes and keeps your windshield clean while preventing the liquid from freezing up in cold weather.
Check and Replace Windshield Check and Replace Windshield
If your wipers have been making a mess of your windshield, buy new blades or new inserts for them. The rubber wiper inserts are inexpensive and usually just slide into place. The metal blades into which the inserts fit are a little more expensive, but if your old ones look corroded or generally aren’t in good shape, you should replace them as well.
Consult your owner’s manual or auto parts store for the type and size of blades you need and for instructions on inserting the blades if you can’t figure out the instructions on the package. Be aware that some vehicles have different-sized wipers for the driver and passenger sides and that other vehicles have only one wiper. If your vehicle has a rear window wiper, don’t forget to check that, too.
Check the Tires
Tires that are low on air pressure wear down faster, increase fuel consumption, and make your vehicle harder to steer. Tires with too much pressure may blow out or steer erratically. For these reasons, keep your tires inflated to within the manufacturer’s specified range.
Check the pressure in each tire regularly, and add or release air as needed. has instructions for performing these easy tasks and checking your tires for signs of problems. Don’t forget to check the sidewalls.
Drive and Enjoy
If you’ve done this monthly under-the-hood check, congratulations! You now know that your vehicle has what it needs in terms of fuel, oil, water, and other exotic beverages. You can be reasonably sure that it won’t leave you stranded on the highway because of a faulty hose, wire, or belt, and you did it all yourself! Get in and drive around.
It feels smoother, right The pickup is better. Your vehicle knows that you care about it, and your efforts have drawn the two of you closer to one another. Silly romanticizing? Well, I have either an extremely affectionate car or a wild imagination.
Whether you’re trying to cook up a decent meal, paint a picture, run an office, or work on your vehicle, you’re only as good as your tools. Just as you can’t slice tomatoes super-thin with a bent, rusty, dull knife, you can’t do any kind of work on your vehicle if you lack the means to loosen or remove parts, clean them, reinstall them, adjust them, or replace them, and test the results.
Before you run off to return this book because you aren’t prepared to spend a lot of money on tools that you’ll probably never use again after you ruin your engine or cut off your thumb, let me tell you that all you really need are a few basic, inexpensive implements.
I’ll deal with the engine and your thumb later In this chapter, I list and describe the basic tools you need for working on your vehicle. You may be surprised at how many of them you already own, and in the event that you need to buy a few, I give you pointers on getting value for your money.