Nearly 270 million cars and trucks are maintained and repaired by over 800,000 auto mechanics in the U.S. Automobiles and auto mechanics are constantly advancing. Unfortunately, many drivers aren’t keeping up, and this leads to problems, some hilarious – mechanics often have a dark sense of humor – but others disastrous.
For this post, we asked a few auto mechanics a simple question, “What do you wish drivers knew about their cars?” We reached out to a variety of auto shop owners and mechanics, and headed to Quora for some help too. Here are the top 5 things drivers really need to know about their cars and driving, according to the experts.
1. Pay Attention
Dave, shop owner and auto mechanic
We had a great time talking with Dave, and he said the worst thing you can do is ignore your car. Unusual noises, warning lights, or gauges in the red zone are warning signs – have a competent auto mechanic diagnose it. Dave says he loves his job and helping people, but misplaced priorities are dangerous.
One car’s brake system needed major repairs, but the owner declined brake repairs to install a new stereo system. “So, death or music?” asks Dave.
2. Read the Manual
James Pearson, retired U.S. Army Motor SGT and Truck Technician
For many car owners, a car is their biggest purchase. Too many people come into the shop with concerns that can be linked to not reading the manual, such as ABS or ECT warnings, TPMS settings, or center differential lock usage.
“If you want to look like a genius to us auto mechanics, read the owner’s manual,” says James.
3. Check the Oil
Johi Marmol, certified Honda technician
Many new cars specify oil change intervals up to 15,000 miles or 12 months, but you can’t ignore it in the meantime. Every car “consumes” a little bit of oil, some as much as one quart per 1,000 miles. Check your oil every month and top it off, or else you could end up with no oil by the time you need an oil change.
4. Check the Tires
Bart Kranenburg, auto mechanic
A minuscule square-foot of rubber connects your car to the road. Tire pressure changes daily, depending on the weather, and loses up to two psi per month, and is directly related to traction, braking, cornering, fuel economy, and tire wear. Check and adjust your tires weekly. Just 10 minutes can make your car safer, more comfortable, and more efficient.
5. Focus on Safe Driving
Chris Hogan, auto mechanic
No car is perfect, neither used, certified pre-owned, nor new from the factory. Whatever car you consider, have your own trusted auto mechanic inspect it. It will require cash out of pocket, but a pre-purchase inspection is good insurance against hidden defects and unexpected repairs. Chris notes drivers need to focus on safe driving habits.
“All those gadgets and gizmos still do not keep you safe. Safer, but not safe,” remarks Chris.
You don’t have to be a master auto mechanic to learn how your car works and what it needs. In fact, practically all auto mechanics echoed James: “Read your owner’s manual.” Even with this limited knowledge, you’re better prepared to drive your car safely, recognize when it needs attention, and help it last longer.