Owners Manuals Increase Gas Mileage
Owner’s Manuals contain useful information about vehicle care. Properly maintained vehicles maximize gas mileage and have fewer problems. They give information about how and when to check fluids, what fluids to use, and scheduled service. If a car is missing an Owner’s Manual the easiest way to get a replacement is to see the dealer. Manuals for older vehicles can be ordered online at and Carmanuals.com. Chilton’s and Haynes repair manuals contain much of the same information as owner’s manuals.
Cars and trucks run on fuel, but fuel isn’t all they need to operate. Cars also need oil, transmission fluid, coolant (antifreeze), and other fluids detailed in the manual. Engine oil and washer fluid are checked after each tank of fuel. Transmission and other fluids are checked monthly. When fluids are low, the manual specifies what type of fluids to use and the filling procedures. Using the wrong type can damage the vehicle.
How to Check Engine OIl
Engine oil level should be checked when the engine is cold. The best time to check engine oil is first thing in the morning, before the car is started, for the most accurate reading.
- Locate the dipstick. These usually have a loop or small t-handle and often colored yellow on newer cars.
- Carefully remove the dipstick from its tube, as there may be oil on it which stains clothing.
- Wipe off the dipstick , and reinsert it all the way into the tube.
- Pull the dipstick back out and read the level. The level of the oil should fall in the area shown in the owner’s manual.
How to Check Transmission Fluid
Automatic transmissions are checked while the engine is running with the transmission in PARK. Transmission checks follow the procedures for checking engine oil, but the dipsticks are generally red. Owners should take care to avoid burns, and ensure they do not catch clothing on moving parts. Manual transmissions don’t usually have a dipstick. Have a mechanic check manual transmissions during scheduled maintenance.
How to Check Antifreeze Levels
To check coolant levels, locate the tank. The coolant level can be seen through plastic tanks, and markings indicate proper level. In vehicles without plastic tanks, consult the manual. The car should be cold when opening cooling system caps to prevent burns.
Checking Tire Pressure
Tire pressure is checked with a tire pressure gage, available at parts stores. Tire shops frequently offer free inflation checks. The proper pressure for your tires is stamped on the tire. Over-inflating tires may cause tires to explode, while under-inflated tires cause poor gas mileage and handling.
Lights and Gages
The vehicle’s dashboard has gages and warning lights that indicate problems. Lights come on briefly when the car is started, then should go out. When a warning light remains on after starting, or comes on while driving, have the vehicle checked immediately to avoid engine damage. The temperature gage should not climb higher than the middle of the gage during operation. The check engine light shows that the car’s computer senses a problem. Many auto parts stores will be able to read the check engine codes from the computer. If the parts store is unable to read the code, check with a qualified mechanic.
Every vehicle has a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. This schedule tells when certain checks are needed to keep the vehicle running properly. Drivers should keep track of the interval to avoid expensive repairs. When service time comes, have a qualified shop look over the manual to ensure necessary checks are performed.
Every vehicle benefits from the simple checks described in owner’s manuals. A properly maintained vehicle requires fewer repairs and gets better fuel economy. Basic maintenance is someting every driver can accomplish themselves.