What are some of the owner’s responsibilities in car ownership?

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What are some of the owner’s responsibilities in car ownership?

As technology advances so do modern cars. Safety standards are much higher than in the past, performance is greater, fuel economy is greater all the while we are coddled by  features that would have been extremely luxurious twenty or thirty years ago which today are almost taken for granted. In the past when cars were less complicated it was much more common for people to work on their own vehicles whether for maintenance or performance reasons.

Today with all the technology packed into a car it can be daunting to take on any task with your car, however I am here to tell you there are a number of tasks that you can and should take upon yourself. If you take this article to heart these simple things can help protect you, your car, your image, all the while improving economy and overall satisfaction with your vehicle.  

Here are some things any vehicle owner can and should do, which I like to call “vehicle owner’s responsibilities”.

  1. Read your manual! – Or at least be familiar with it. Your manual gives you the information you need regarding regular service intervals and maintenance items pertaining to your car. Not all cars are the same so any time you get a new car it’s a good idea to open up the manual and see what services the car will need over time so you know when to bring the car in. If you stick to your service intervals your car is going to last a lot longer and cost much less over time. You can keep your car longer and that means you can save money! Your manual is also where you will learn about the Warning lights and gauges some of which are nearly universal while some seem like hieroglyphics until you have studied your manual. Following are some of the lights and gauges common to nearly all cars because of their importance.

    1. Check Engine light – If this light is blinking constantly stop the vehicle and turn it off or damage could occur. If the light is on in a solid state you can continue to drive but continued long term operation could cause damage and in the meantime you may notice poor performance, vibrations, poor economy etc. Come to Quality Coaches and let us determine the cause of your light and what it means to you and your car.

    2. Water temperature gauge/warning light – Most vehicles run at very steady temperature and the needle does not move much once the vehicle is warmed up. If a warning light comes on or your temperature gauge is reading above normal the first thing to do is shut the engine down to prevent serious damage and check your coolant level. To do this safely consult the Manual. If adding coolant keeps your car running at normal temperature it is safe to drive however it is best to let Quality Coaches determine why coolant was lost and what repairs may be required to prevent the situation from recurring.

    3. Oil Pressure Light – This light indicates low oil pressure. Oil is the life-blood of your car so the first thing to do is get somewhere safe to shut down the car and check your oil level. If your oil level is low add oil until the dip stick says you are in the full range. Restart the car and see the light shuts off. If it does not DO NOT DRIVE THE VEHICLE! Call Quality Coaches and have your car towed before real damage occurs.

    4. Battery light – This indicates an issue with the electrical system of the car. This could be the alternator, battery or other components within the system. It’s best to come to Quality Coaches to see if you just need a new battery or have a bigger problem.

  1. Learn how to check your fluids and air pressures.

  1. Check your oil – While changing the oil in your car is a great many cars can run low periodically due to leakage or consumption of the oil. The oil in your vehicle is critical and needs to be within the “full” range on the dip stick. Consult your manual for the proper oil viscosity and type for your vehicle before adding oil.  Unfortunately not all cars have a dipstick these days meaning the previously mentioned oil light is all the more important.

  2. Check your Automatic transmission fluid. – Consult your manual for the proper procedure and types of fluid to use.

  3. Check your windshield wiper fluid – There is nothing worse than running out of washer fluid in the middle of a trip or in winter driving conditions where the salt and dirt mix with slush and do wonders on your visibility. Adding windshield washer fluid is easy! Check your owner’s manual if you aren’t sure where the cap is to fill the container. You can’t overfill it and the fluid won’t hurt anything.

  4. Tire pressure – Look at your tires, do they look low? Even if they don’t use an air pressure gauge which are inexpensive and can be found at just about any gas station or auto parts store. To find the proper pressure for your car check the manual or the sticker inside the driver side door jamb. The sidewall of the tire only lists the maximum PSI setting you can inflate the tires to. Filling a car tire is a lot like filling a bicycle tire. Tire pressure is critical for safety and fuel economy. Always remember – the only thing on your car touching the road are the tires. Be sure to check your tires regularly.

  1. Learn to listen to your car - When there are problems with your car often the first indication will be the noises it makes, so when you know what is normal you will be able to identify something new or odd. It also helps us to diagnose the problem. Your input helps your mechanic in identifying where to start looking for problems, so knowing the sounds your car makes is critical to car ownership.

  2. Keep it clean inside and out - A clean car rides better or at least you and your passengers will feel better about riding in it. Cleaning the exterior is the best way to protect your car from the elements, especially salt and grime in the winter. You can take it to the car wash or do it yourself. Weather allowing doing your own cleaning can be rewarding. If you choose to do it yourself invest in some high quality products some of which should be automotive specific such as car wash (never dish soap). Glass cleaners, leather cleaners and conditioners can be products you may already have around your home. You may find cleaning your car enjoyable you never know. I know I sure do!  

    1. Washing. Clean the wheels and tires first, don’t use the same brushes and mitts or towels that you plan to use on the body. Next clean the body a wash wool wash mitt or microfiber towel work great. Lastly dry the car using a microfiber or chamois, both of which must be wetted and rung out before working properly.

If you can do your part and take basic care of the car it will help the car last a long time with fewer repairs. If you think you may have a problem with your car let us take a look under the hood, give us a call to schedule an appointment! Quality Coaches is conveniently located in South Minneapolis on 38th and Nicollet.  Our friendly staff is always happy to answer questions and we provide loaner cars so you can drop your car off, go to work and pick your car up on the way home.



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