If you drive a car, you should know exactly what it is you are driving. Knowing more about your car and how it ticks can help you get the most out of your car, be comfortable during your travels, and drive safely. Gary and his professional team at Stewart’s Donnybrook Automotive realize that you don't need to know all the complexities of your car to the point where you could assemble a new engine yourself, but even learning a few facts about the type of car you drive and some basic vehicle knowledge can be vital information for any car owner.
1. Vehicle Identifiers: Year, Make, and Model, VIN
The first thing you should know about your vehicle is WHAT vehicle you are driving. There are thousands of types of vehicles being made today; you should know the details about which one you have.
The most important details to know would be your vehicle's year, make, and model. The year being the year it was manufactured/made, the make being the company who created the vehicle, and the model being specific design and type of vehicle among the cars made by that company. Remembering these three details can be very helpful when needing to discuss your car.
Remembering the VIN is a bit more difficult, as it's a long string of 17 numbers and letters. Your VIN is your Vehicle Identification Number – the "fingerprint" of your car so to speak. This is a unique identifier to find all the specific manufacturing information about your car, specifically, as no two vehicles share a VIN.
I certainly would never be able to remember my car's VIN because of how long and complicated it is, but it is essential to know where to find it! Your VIN can typically be found inside the driver-side door where the hinge attaches to the vehicle body or sometimes outside at the base of the windshield on the driver's side. Perhaps write your VIN in your phone's notes app if you need easy access!
2. What to Keep in Your Glove Box and Car
God forbid you ever get pulled over while driving, you'll want to make sure you have all the correct documents with you. However, not all these documents should go into your glovebox.
The three important documents you should always have with you when you drive are your driver's license, car registration, and proof of insurance. The glovebox is a great place to store your proof insurance. Because of the value of your license and car registration, these items should be kept in your wallet, so they are not left in the vehicle unattended. Keep the car's title at home.
Because you'll be using your car to travel, it can be smart to expect the unexpected. That means preparing for the unexpected! Your personal medical information and emergency contact numbers are a great thing to store in the glove box.
The glove box is also a great storage spot for your car's manual for easy access whenever a weird symbol light pops up on your dashboard.
Outside of your glovebox, consider storing any other items you may end up needing – a flashlight, tissues or paper towels, non-perishable food, drinkable water, hand sanitizer, or a first aid kit. If you're looking for more info on what to keep in your car, check out our blog "An Ounce of Prevention…..Building Your Auto Emergency Kit."
3. Oil and Other Vehicle Fluids
Even if you're not the biggest gearhead, it's important to know the basics of how your car works. While our vehicles are made up of metal nuts and bolts, the car's fluids make them run. Even knowing what different types of fluids are used can help you have a better understanding of your car, how it runs, and when it might need a little maintenance work.
The five important car fluids include engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. For the most part, the names of these fluids are pretty self-explanatory to what their job is. Without car fluids, your car becomes an overheating mess of metal grinding against metal.
The proper fluids are necessary to keep your car's mechanisms lubricated and running smoothly. In addition to keeping your car fluids filled and clean, be sure you're using the correct grade of gasoline to fuel your car.
4. Windshield Wipers
This is a short one, but essential nonetheless! It's important to stay up to date on your windshield wiper blades and fluid. Depending on where you live and the type of weather you get, this is a car part you ought to replace rather frequently. Luckily, windshield wipers replacements and fluid refills are typically cheap maintenance work to have done. Nothing more annoying (or dangerous) than driving in the rain and watching your dull windshield wipers smear water and dirt everywhere.
5. Tire Pressure and Spare
Knowing how to care for your car's tires properly is critical knowledge when owning a car. Your tires are the most important safety feature of your car.
Whatever tires your vehicle has, you should know the correct pressure to maintain. This will keep you safe on the road and help get the most use out of your tires. Give you tires a look occasionally to see how the pressure and tread is looking. Rotating your tires often can make them last longer as well.
While it might seem like an intimidating task, everyone should learn how to change a flat tire with a spare. It's easy to be naïve and think you'll never experience a flat tire, but don't. You can and very well might experience a flat tire during your travels. Most cars have a spare located in the trunk along with a tire jack. There are several YouTube tutorials to teach you how to use them!
6. Finding a Mechanic You Trust
Having a mechanic you know and trust makes general maintenance and repairs a million times easier. With how pricey vehicle repairs can sometimes be, it can be easy to feel skeptical when going to a random car shop or mega corporate chain – does your car really need all the maintenance they suggest? This can sometimes stop us from even wanting to get work done, for fear of being overcharged or ripped off. That's why having a reliable mechanic you trust makes it easy to get repairs or maintenance done any time you need it. Additionally, it's convenient that sticking with one mechanic means they'll have a record of the work done to your car.
7. Every Car Can be a "Cool" Car
Finally, know that any car can be presented as a cool, sleek car, regardless of how much you paid for it. You don't need to splurge your savings on a Mercedes G Wagon to ride in style. You can make any car, luxury or not, feel like a luxury ride. Keeping a clean car, means having a nice car. So be sure to keep your car clean of trash and clutter. Install seat covers and interior protectants to keep the car's interior looking new and the way you want it to. Accessorize your car with big fuzzy dice hanging from your rearview or eyelashes on your headlights. This is your car, have fun with it!
Car safety and being comfortable driving are some of the most important things when having a vehicle. Knowing all of these little nuggets of info about your car can help you achieve safety and comfort when traveling.
If you have further questions on what you should know about your vehicle or any other general inquiries about your car, give us a call at Stewart Donnybrook Automotive in Tyler, Texas.