Category Archives: DIY

The Vehicle Owner’s Manual is Your Best Friend

13 Important Things Included in Your Vehicle Car Owner’s Manual

What is the answer to most questions about your vehicle? Consult the owner’s manual.

It’s as simple as that. The vehicle owner’s manual is an instructional booklet that is specific to your vehicle. It includes important information to make you a better driver and car owner, including maintenance and troubleshooting advice.

Rather than excitedly driving off in your new vehicle, take some time to read your owner’s manual and get acquainted first.

13 Important Things Included in Your Car Owner’s Manual

  1. Setup Instructions

While some cars still don’t require any setup, many newer models have technological features that require some user input. These include Bluetooth, keyless entry, and voice recognition.

The owner’s manual can make this process easy. In order to take full advantage of your vehicle’s available options, learn all of the setup instructions before driving your new car.

  1. Gizmo Instructions 

In addition to setup instructions, you will also find instructions for how to use all of the features and gizmos in your vehicle. Avoid the frustration that comes with learning a new system by reading the owner’s manual before you start to use anything in or around the car.

Don’t flip switches and press buttons before you know what they do. If you don’t know what a particular button or function in your vehicle does, consult the owner’s manual first. This includes how to dim, brighten, or modify your headlights.

Your vehicle may also have a “battery run-down” feature that automatically shuts down lamps and lights to conserve your battery life.

  1. Maintenance Schedule

Taking preventative care for your vehicle is money well spent. When you catch problems early on, they are cheaper and easier to fix. Your vehicle will last longer, have higher resale value and better performance.

In addition to saving money on repairs, a well-maintained car is also more efficient, saving you on fuel costs as well. Additionally, any warranty claims normally request a complete service record.

Look in your car’s service manual to learn the proper maintenance schedule (oil changes, for instance), how often you need to service your car, and the expected lifespan for the car’s replaceable parts.

Save money on unnecessary maintenance and oil changes by following the recommendations in the vehicle owner’s manual. For example, many people waste time and money by following a dealership or mechanic’s advice on when to change the oil, or other vehicle fluids. For the most accurate fluid change schedule, always refer to your vehicle’s service manual.

You can also use your car’s maintenance schedule to budget car maintenance and repair expenses. Your mechanic won’t like that you consulted your owner’s manual, but your wallet and peace of mind will.

  1. How to Check and Refill Fluids

If you want to know where the windshield wiper fluid, coolant, or motor oil is located, save yourself time and trouble by checking the owner’s manual first.

You will also learn if it’s better to check the fluid while it’s hot or cold.

  1. Oil Change

Make sure you are filling up with the proper engine oil and gas by consulting your owner’s manual. The “Engine Oil” section tells you how to check your oil level, what kind of oil and filter to use, and how long you can go between oil changes.

Bookmark this page for easy reference.

  1. Gas Grade

What kind of gasoline should you use for your vehicle? Check your owner’s manual to learn the proper octane level.

Premium or plus gasoline isn’t automatically superior. Different types of engines are designed to run on different types of gasoline. Use the gas grade (octane rating) that is recommended in the “Fuel” section of your owner’s manual. 

  1. Seat Positions and Head Restraints 

In order to provide the safest and most comfortable position in your car, check the owner’s manual for how to adjust seat positions and head restraints.

Adjusting the head restraints to the proper height will help cushion the head and spine in the case of an accident, reducing whiplash injuries and increasing effectiveness.

  1. Dashboard Warning Lights

Dashboard warning lights are not the same for all vehicles. While some lit-up warning signs are nothing to worry about, others can indicate important messages about your braking system, engine, and fluid levels.

Your vehicle owner’s manual will let you know what each warning light means and whether it is urgent or not. If you see a dashboard warning light that you do not recognize, look it up in your vehicle owner’s manual immediately. It could save you from a dangerous situation and expensive repair bills.

  1. How to Change Tires

Your vehicle owner’s manual will tell you how to remove tire and operate a car jack. Since every car is different, you want to make sure you are lifting the car up at the proper location. Always reference your owner’s manual for the correct location to place the car jack.

We highly recommend consulting the owner’s manual so you can make the ideal tire change. You will learn how long you can drive on the spare and how inflated it should be. While you are replacing the tire, don’t forget to check the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle.

  1. Ideal Tire Pressure

Instead of using the tire pressure on the sidewall of your tire, consult your owner’s manual for the proper tire PSI. The PSI printed on your tire is normally the maximum allowed pressure. Never inflate the tire over this number. If you overinflate your tires, you risk overheating, a blowout, or worse.

We recommend purchasing a digital tire gauge and checking your tire pressure about once every month. Maintaining proper tire pressure will enhance driver safety and fuel efficiency.

ALWAYS check the owner’s manual for the proper PSI level for your tires. You can also find the appropriate tire pressure rating on the placard on the inside of your driver-side door, glove box, or fuel door.

  1. Warranty Information

You can save a lot of money by checking your owner’s manual to see what service and parts are covered by warranty. Rather than forking over your hard-earned money to mechanic, check your manual first.

You will learn if you have any roadside assistance along with any relevant contact information. Additionally, you will discover all of the things that you should not do that may void any existing warranties.

If you are having trouble finding out what is and is not covered by your warranty, speak with one of the technicians at Auto Simple.

  1. How to Clean the Vehicle’s Inside and Outside

If you want to keep your vehicle looking brand new, consult the owner’s manual. It will tell you the best cleaning methods for your leather or fabric upholstery and outdoor paint, mirrors, and accents.

  1. Tips & Tricks

In addition to some specific driving tips for your model, you will also discover valuable tips and tricks for extending the lifespan of your vehicle, increasing gas mileage, and maximizing passenger safety. Learn how to maneuver your new vehicle and follow their instructions no matter how seasoned you are as a driver.

In addition to tips for safe driving, you will uncover little-known features. For instance, some cars have the ability to lower the windows a little bit on hot, summer days. Your owner’s manual contains a lot of hidden features you may be missing out on.

We recommend reading the entire vehicle owner’s manual before driving your new car. Every model is different. Get acquainted; learn the vehicle’s quirks and oddities.

How to Find Your Vehicle Owner’s Manual Online

Although vehicle owner’s manuals normally stay put, occasionally they do get lost or misplaced. If you are missing your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you could find yourself in significant trouble.

Luckily, there are ways (mostly free) to obtain your car’s service manual if it has gone missing.

  1. Find Your Vehicle’s Year, Make, and Model (and/or VIN Number)

When searching for your missing owner’s manual online, you will normally need either the vehicle’s YEAR/MAKE/MODEL information of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). The VIN can provide more accurate results depending on the manufacturer.

For instance, the VIN can provide a more customized maintenance schedule based on your specific vehicle.

  1. Look up the Manufacturer’s Website

Look up the official website for your vehicle’s make. For instance, if you drive a Ford, you can simply visit the Ford website and look up your vehicle’s year/make/model or VIN.

Sometimes, it may be easier to simply search Google for “______ owner’s manual.” Other times, going to the manufacturer’s website and using their search function will yield a faster result.

Here are a few websites that offer free downloadable owner’s manuals or printed copies for sale:

Another benefit of looking up your vehicle owner’s manual online is learning of any recall information and warranty details.

If you are having trouble finding the official vehicle owner’s manual on the manufacturer’s website, try Just Give Me The Damn Manual, a collection over 2,000 automotive manuals.

Related Resources:

Accessing the Owner’s Manual: Your vehicle owner’s manual should be stored in a protected and accessible place, normally your glovebox or trunk.


Auto Simple wants to help you find the perfect vehicle.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to drive away in your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

How to Remove Minor Car Scratches | DIY Scratch Repair

how to fix minor car scratches - Auto Simple

Nobody likes finding a scratch on their automobile. Whether caused by a tree branch, bicycle handle, or shopping cart, scratches in the paint are ugly, potentially expensive to repair, and can cause rust problems if left untreated.

Learn step-by-step instructions for fixing minor paint scratches on your automobile with the Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Kit.

Car Scratch Anatomy and Scratch Repair Warnings

clear coat, basecoat, primer, and metal layers of car paint scratch

Source: bestseekers.com

WARNING: A successful auto scratch repair takes very careful attention to detail and some education. Read this guide and follow any commercial products’ instructions very carefully.

If you can run your fingernail over the scratch without it catching, then it’s probably only a clear coat scratch. For minor blemishes such as these, we would recommend using a product that is more limited in scope, such as Meguair’s G17216 Ultimate Compound, Turtle Wax T-241A Polishing Compound & Scratch Remover, or Barrett-Jackson Car Scratch Remover. These top-level blemish products can also be used to restore swirl marks, water spots, and faded head lights and tail lights.

If, however, your fingernail does catch, you have a deeper scratch and will want to decide whether to do the repair yourself or take it into a professional. If you can see metal, that is a very serious scratch. No scratch repair kit will be able to restore a deep scratch completely. We suggest seeing a professional as soon as possible if you see metal. Exposed metal will rust. Wide and deep scratches are not covered in this guide.

We’ve seen a lot of success with the Turtle Wax T-234KT Premium Grade Scratch Repair Kit, so we will be referring to this product in the guide below. If you your fingernail catches on the scratch, but you don’t see any metal, this is a good kit to use. Be careful as the kit includes abrasive sand pads that require delicacy, precision, and attention to detail. Follow manufacturer instructions exactly.

How to Remove Minor Automobile Scratches

You’ll need two main things when fixing most paint scratches, the exact paint match and the clear coat layer that goes on top. If the scratch hasn’t gone through the primer, you can skip the touch-up paint step. 

  1. Look for Your Factory Paint Code

If your scratch is only a clear coat scratch, then you don’t have to worry about finding any paint. Deeper scratches, however, require the additional application of new primer and paint.

To help you find the right paint touch-up product, look for the factory-paint code on the sticker in the driver side doorsill or on a plaque under the hood. If you are unable to find the exact color match at the auto parts store or online, take the car to your auto dealer.

Remember, this guide is for minor scratches only so if you need to cover a large area, go with a professional. Touching up large areas by hand will always have imperfections. A professional will spray it and restore it to like-new conditions. If you can get your insurance to pay for it, do that instead.

  1. Wash and Dry the Car

First, make sure the surface is cleaned with soap and water. Once you’ve dried the area completely with a clean cloth, finish cleaning with a few gentle wipes of a rag and denatured alcohol. Allow the area to dry completely.

  1. Mark Off Area with Blue Painter’s Tape

It’s a good idea to mark the scratch off with some blue painter’s tape, especially if it’s close to any trim or plastic.

If you are applying touch-up paint, mark off the area as close as you can. This will help keep the primer and paint from spreading.

If you only need to add a small amount of paint and you have some experience in car care, you may be able to repair it yourself. If you have any doubts, bring it into a professional detailer.

Steps for touching up paint:

  • Mark the area off as close as you can with blue painter’s tape. This will prevent the primer or paint from covering too large of an area.
  • After the area is clean and dry, apply a very small amount of primer into the scratch or chip with a very fine brush. Allow the primer to dry. Wait a day to be sure.
  • Next, put a small amount of paint over the primed area (make sure the auto paint color is an exact match!). Practice on some paper or metal before applying to your car. You want to get the technique down first. If you are using a paint pen, depress the nib to release the paint onto a paper or metal surface, not the car. Dab the tip into the paint and gently fill in the affected area. If you only have spray paint, spray into a cap or container and use a fine artist’s brush to apply the basecoat. Depending on the touch-up paint you buy, you’ll want to use different strategies. Still, the same principles apply. For best results, it’s a good idea to use a fine artist’s brush and dab very lightly.
  • Wait at least one hour to apply a second coat of paint, if necessary. After adding the paint, remove the blue painter’s tape and allow the paint to dry. We recommend letting it dry and cure for a day or two before moving on to the next steps.

Touching up minor scratches and other blemishes with paint requires practice. Make sure you feel comfortable applying very small amounts of paint onto paper or metal first.

PRO TIPS: 

  • Don’t apply any touch-up paint in direct sun or if temperatures are below 50°F.
  • Just in case you do apply too much paint to the area, make sure you have paint/lacquer thinner to quickly clean it up.
  1. Prime the Clear Coat Pen (from Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Kit)

If you don’t need to add any primer or paint, you’ll want to skip those steps and jump to this one. First, prime the clear coat pen by pressing it against a piece of paper or metal to get it flowing. Then, fill the scratch in completely with the clear coat pen using gentle dabs and wipes. Wait for it to dry. You may want to wait overnight, especially if it is a wider or deeper scratch.

  1. Sand the Surface with Proper Pad

This is the step to watch out for. The Turtle Wax Scratch Repair Kit comes with 4 different abrasive pads, #1 being the most abrasive and #4 the least abrasive.

The problem for most users is that they use too much pressure, fail to lubricate the area first, or use the wrong sanding pad. Ensure the pads and the surface are lubricated with the Spray Lubricator. Otherwise, you can cause even more scratches. You should never dry sand the affected area, only wet sand with the Spray Lubricant that’s included in the kit.

Usually the #1 sanding pad is not needed. The abrasive #1 pad if for deeper scratches when you are using touch-up paint, but usually you can start with #2 if you used touch-up paint. Take your time, follow instructions exactly, and use the proper level grit pad. Be very careful with the amount of pressure you use.

  1. Mark off the scratch, one inch above and one inch below, with blue painter’s tape.
  2. Lubricate the surface with the Spray Lubricator. Spray directly on the area.
  3. Lubricate the #2 pad (if you used touch-up paint) or #3 pad (if no touch-up paint was needed) by spraying the lubricator directly on the pad.
  4. Gently wet wipe the #2 or #3 pad in the direction of the scratch.
  5. Next, lubricate the surface and the next pad that’s less abrasive. If you started with the #3 pad, move on to the very fine #4 pad. If you started with #2, use #3 next, and finish up with #4. Make sure they are all fully lubricated and use very gentle wipes in the direction of the scratch.

We cannot stress this enough—be extremely careful with the pressure you use when using the sanding pads. Very light rubbing is all that is necessary.

To remove the hazy area created when blending in the touch-up paint with the pads, move on to the next step.

  1. Use Polishing Compound/Paint Finish Restorer

Before you move on the Polishing Compound step, remove the blue painter’s tape. To restore the gloss to the affected area, apply the Polishing Compound (from the Turtle Wax Kit) to a corner of your microfiber cloth and buff the scratch in the opposite direction of the scratch/sanding wipes.

For this step, you can use pressure. Use two or three fingers behind your microfiber cloth and firmly wipe the area in perpendicular strokes to the scratch/sand marks. You may have to wipe for over a minute or two.

After around 40 strokes, wipe the area with a clean, dry cloth. Inspect your work and repeat the process if you still see sand marks. On the reapplication of the polishing compound, you can use circular motions to help blend everything in.

  1. Apply a Coat of Wax

If you had any wax on the car, this process will have removed it. Apply a coat of wax to the area you worked on so it shines like the rest of the car.

And you’re done!

Fixing auto scratches yourself all depends on the length and depth of the scratch. If you have any major scratches, take your vehicle into a professional.


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

Top 11 Books on Automobiles | Maintenance, Repair, Fiction & Nonfiction

best nonfiction and fiction books on automobiles - maintenance and repair

In honor of Read Across America Day (March 2nd) and National Reading Month (March), we’re going over the best books about cars, trucks, and automobiles.

While there are many great online resources such as YouTube videos and message boards for learning car maintenance and repair (see our blog for instance), sometimes you end up on a wild goose chase following the wrong advice. But that doesn’t mean you should give up! Regular maintenance and repair will keep your vehicle efficient and reliable for a very long time.

Top 7 NONFICTION Books on Automobile Maintenance & Repair

Instead of scouring the internet, you can save a lot of time and frustration by purchasing a couple reference books for maintenance and repairs that range from simple to complex. If you read the following nonfiction books on auto maintenance and repair, you’ll be able to:

  • Change your oil
  • Check all fluids
  • Change tires
  • Basically anything!

Keep your vehicle running in top shape with these books and manuals:

  1. Vehicle Owner’s Manual

You should already have this one. The owner’s manual that came with the car will give most of the basic information you need for operating and maintaining your automobile.

This piece of reference material is essential. It will tell you exactly how to operate all of your car’s components, what your vehicle dashboard warning lights mean, what the proper tire PSI is, and other important information specific to your make and model.

If you have a question about your vehicle, consult the owner’s manual first (there’s an index in the back). If you can’t find what you’re looking for, the following books on the list will be able to fill in the gaps.

  1. Chilton Total Car Care Manual

For general repair procedures, get a Chilton’s repair manual for your vehicle. With just a few simple tools and a repair manual, you can complete most vehicle maintenance and repairs yourself.

These manuals provide easy-to-understand information about the inner workings of your vehicle. Even if you don’t plan on doing any serious repairs yourself, the manual will enable you to speak confidently with your mechanic.

Be aware the Chilton’s manuals tend to be a little more technical than Haynes manuals (the next book on the list). You should be able to do most car/truck maintenance and repair using only the Chilton’s manual, however, you may find gaps in information here and there. It’s best to compare the Chilton’s procedures with your owner’s manual and a Haynes manual.

  1. Haynes Car Repair & Servicing Manual

If you are serious about DIY auto work, you should supplement the Chilton manual with a Haynes manual. These 2 manuals will provide near comprehensive coverage for all your auto repair and maintenance work.

It’s a good idea to use both books to look up unfamiliar procedures. That way, you can choose the simpler method and get a better idea of what you are doing.

  1. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) Service Manual

While Chilton and Haynes manuals should be more than enough for the average do-it-yourselfer, if you want the exact reprints of service manuals from the manufacturer, consider purchasing the OEM factory repair manual for your vehicle. Normally used by mechanics and technicians, these automotive manuals are the most thorough, but are generally harder to understand than either the Chilton or Haynes manuals. If you have all 3 manuals, you’ll have all the specific information you need to understand your vehicle’s many systems and components.

  1. Auto Repair for Dummies by Deanna Sclar

If you are familiar with the For Dummies, you’ll know that they are filled with non-intimidating pictures and guides on a variety of topics. So it’s no surprise the Auto Repair for Dummies by Deanna Sclar is simple, direct, and easy to understand.

The book contains useful information for the layman, including year-round maintenance schedules, general tune-ups, suggested tools, and other very practical information. If you just want to know the basics of car maintenance, reduce maintenance and repair costs, and increase your confidence when speaking with a mechanic, this is a great book.

Be aware, however, that the book won’t have a lot of information specific to your vehicle. For specific information on your vehicle, get the Chilton, Haynes, or OEM manuals.

  1. How Cars Work by Tom Newton

Get How Cars Work if you really want to understand how your car works. It goes slowly through each of the components in your vehicle, gradually building a comprehensive understanding of how each component and system functions.

Although much of the book is focused on how car engines work, it also provides thorough explanations for other systems as well, such as steering, brake, and heating/cooling systems. If you really want to understand what goes on under the hood, this book is for you.

The best thing about this book is that any beginner can understand it. It can even make a great gift for a mechanically-inclined child interested in how things work.

Finish the entire book and you’ll be able to converse smoothly and confidently with any mechanic or automotive enthusiast.

  1. Ask Click and Clack: Answers from Car Talk by Tom and Ray Magliozzi

I’m sure you are already familiar with the hilarious hosts of NPR’s Car Talk, but if not, you’re missing out. In addition to the great information on the Car Talk website and radio show, there are also several books by the Tappet brothers, a.k.a. Click and Clack.

Ask Click and Clack collects the best questions and answers from their radio show, combined with additional advice and wisecracks. If you are looking for light reading filled with helpful and amusing information, this is a great book for both the experienced mechanic and the complete beginner.

Honorable Mention: How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive by John Muir

If How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot by John Muir (not the nature-writer) wasn’t specific to old Volkswagens, it would have made our list. While certainly for beginners (mostly text with some illustrations), it is a very well written book that combines practical information with an entertaining style. If you own an air-cooled VW (beetle, gia, bus, etc…), this book has everything you need for troubleshooting and repairing your bug.

Advanced Automotive Engineering

If you are interested in automotive engineering and becoming a skilled mechanic, first decide which area you are interested and then go to SAE International for technical engineering information. You’ll also want to see what resources are available at your local mechanical engineering schools and join a team for hands-on experience.

Auto Log Book

If you want to keep track of mileage, maintenance, repairs, and other automotive work, we highly recommend keeping an auto log book. Whether you are trying to keep clear records for tax purposes or otherwise, an auto log book will make it easy to record your vehicle history.

There are also plenty of great nonfiction books about the history of cars and the people who drive them. Against All Odds: The Story of the Toyota Motor Corporation and the Family That Created It is a fascinating story about the history of Toyota. It should be required reading for any manufacturing entrepreneurs. Behind the Wheel: The Great Automobile Aficionados by Robert Putal is another great book for automotive enthusiasts, which includes profiles of 80 famous car aficionados.

Top 4 FICTION Books on Motor Vehicles  

Humans and wheels—they’re a match made in heaven. Old or young, these books are sure to please any automotive enthusiast and their need for speed. You don’t even have to be interested in motor vehicles to enjoy these books, but don’t be surprised if they get you hooked.

  1. The Truck Book by Harry McNaught

This bestselling book for children is full of beautiful and colorful illustrations of over 50 trucks, including buses, RVs, and fire engines.

  1. Christine by Stephen King 

Fasten your seatbelts, folks. The master of horror wants to take you on a chilling ride with a killer car. If you enjoyed the movie, you’ll LOVE the book! 

  1. The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

The Mouse and the Motorcycle is the classic story of a young boy, a mouse, and a motorcycle. There are two great sequels as well, Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse. Children aged 5-9 will probably get the most enjoyment out of this motor vehicle tale.

  1. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

Don’t be fooled by the title. According to the author, “It should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either” (Wikipedia). It does, however, use motorcycle maintenance as a life analogy we can all relate to in some way or another.

After reading these books and guides for car enthusiasts, come into Auto Simple and check out our collection of used cars. We do free oil changes every 90 days for the life of your loan and have highly-trained technicians onsite. Additionally, if you decide to trade-in or sell your vehicle after being inspired by these great literary works, we do that too! 

Best Online Resources for Auto Repair and Maintenance 


If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYouTube, and Google+.

How to Check Vehicle Tire Pressure and Inflate Tires

checking and inflating car vehicle tire pressure

We all know that routine maintenance is important for everything from our computers to our cars. But sometimes, we fall short. One of the most neglected routine car maintenance tasks is to check tire pressures and inflate them as necessary. That’s why newer cars have tire pressure warning lights, or tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), that let you know when you have under- or over-inflated tires (when any tire is 25% underinflated).

Older vehicles don’t have this useful warning light. So, don’t wait for a rupture to check or change a tire. Use this guide to learn how to check the pressure (PSI) of your vehicle tires and how to inflate them to the proper air level.

Why should you check your tire pressure?

The number one reason why you should periodically check your tire pressure is SAFETY, but there are monetary and handling reasons as well:

  • Longer lasting tires
  • Improved handling and control
  • Reduced risk of accidents and blow outs
  • Better fuel economy
  • Reduced carbon footprint

Proper tire pressure (as recommended by the manufacturer) is needed to drive safely and efficiently. According to a 2009 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

“…about 28% of light vehicles on our Nation’s roadways run with at least one underinflated tire. Only a few psi difference from vehicle manufacturer’s recommended tire inflation pressure can affect a vehicle’s handling and stopping distance. Poor tire maintenance can increase incidences of blowouts and tread separations. Similarly, underinflation negatively affects fuel economy.”

When your tires are underinflated, the tires get fatter, increasing their surface area. This causes high heat generation and extra resistance that could result in higher fuel costs, blown out tires, tire wear, and loss of control.

If you feel like you’re spending too much at the gas pump, it might be your tires. According to the US Department of Energy:

“You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average—up to 3% in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by about 0.2% for every 1 psi drop in the average pressure of all tires.”

In addition to safety and fiscal concerns, keeping your tires properly inflated will also reduce your impact on the environment. When your tires are properly inflated, you’ll pay less for gas, replace your tires less often, and improve your handling and stopping distance. You’ll also feel better knowing that you are emitting less carbon dioxide and other harmful substances into the atmosphere.

What is the right PSI level?

PSI stands for pounds per square inch. The recommended PSI for your vehicle’s tires is determined by the vehicle’s manufacturer and the recommended tire size.

One big question that we get is whether you should follow the recommended PSI level on the tire itself or the recommended PSI level printed in your owner’s manual or on the placard inside of door edge, glove box door, or fuel door.

Do NOT use the max PSI that is printed on the tire sidewall. This is not the recommended PSI level. The pressure amount on the tire is normally the maximum allowed pressure. The correct PSI level is almost always less than what you see printed on the side of the tire. Over-inflation can lead to poor handling and comfort, overheating and blow outs. Over 40 PSI is a dangerous level for most vehicles!

Make sure you always use the recommended PSI as provided in your owner’s manual and don’t go any more than 5 PSI over the recommended level. You should make sure, however, that your tires are appropriate for your vehicle. You can do this by checking the car’s owner’s manual or the placard that is on the inside of the driver-side door, glove box, or fuel door.

Most car tire pressure recommendations range from 30-35 PSI.

How often should I check tire pressure?

A question in many minds is when is the appropriate time and frequency for checking and inflating vehicle tires.

A quick google search will reveal a variety of different opinions and suggestions. Some say that you should check your tire pressure every 2nd visit to the gasoline station, while others say once every 3-6 months is OK.

Most tire and vehicle manufacturers, on the other hand, will say that you should check your tire pressure at least once every month, or every second trip to the gas pump. Your tires will lose around 1 PSI each for every month that goes by.

Unfortunately, not one answer will fit every situation. There are several factors that influence how often you should check your tire pressure, including:

  • The weather (hot and cold seasonal changes)
  • Driving frequency and distance
  • Weight carried or towed

Did you know that for every 10°-drop in temperature, you lose 1 pound of pressure?

If you have a leaky valve or a small puncture, you will lose air pressure much more quickly. This is one more reason why you should frequently check the tire pressure on all of your tires.

Since tire pressure constantly fluctuates, it’s important to check it periodically (at least once a month) and add air as necessary.

How to Check Tire Pressure

Finding out the tire pressure of your tires is incredibly easy. All you need is a pressure gauge (click here for additional items you should have in your vehicle).

Just make sure that you are checking your tires when they are relatively cold. If you check your tire pressure after a long drive, you will get an inaccurate reading since heat will temporarily increase the tire pressure reading.

Unfortunately, not all pressures gauges are created equal. Some are better than others. We recommend shelling out a couple extra bucks for a digital reader. The pop-up, stick-type versions are notoriously inconsistent and unreliable. A reliable gauge will be well worth the investment. Prices range from about $5 for the stick-type and about $30 for the digital and dial-type pressure gauges.

You can also check your tire pressure at most gas stations or auto repair shops. Discount Tire offers free tire pressure checks and inflation.

Here are the steps for checking your tire pressure:

  • Check the tire pressure when the tires are cold—first thing in the morning is best. If you’ve been driving for a while, you’ll want to wait several hours before checking your tire pressure.
  • Remove the caps to your tires’ air valve (keep them in a safe place, like your pocket).
  • Place the tire pressure gauge on the air valve firmly to receive a reading.
  • Take the tire pressure reading 1-3 times to get a good average and reduce the risk of anomalies.
  • Check the tire pressure gauge reading against the recommended PSI levels recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Add some air until your reach the recommended PSI level.
  • If the reading is above the recommended PSI level, push down on the air valve to release air. Check the tire pressure again. Release more air if necessary. If you release too much air, you can always add some air back.

It should only take you a couple minutes to check the air pressure of your vehicle’s tires. As soon as you restore tire pressure to the recommended levels, you’ll start experiencing the safety and savings that come with this regular maintenance task.

Watch this video for more information on how to check your tire pressure:

How to Inflate Tires

Here are the steps for adding air to your tires:

  • Remove the valve stem caps on all of your tires (keep them in a safe place, like your pocket).
  • Use an air pump to fill the tires. Even though it’s possible to fill your tires with a regular old bicycle pump, this is not the most efficient method. Instead, go to your local gas station that has a coin-operated air pump (ask the attendant if you can’t find it). You can also purchase your own automatic air compressor, but it will cost you around $50-$150.
  • Inflate your tires when they are cold. If you’ve driven more than a couple miles, you’ll want to wait until they are cold. The best time to refill your tires is first thing in the morning.
  • You can usually set the desired PSI level on the machine at the gas station (probably around 30-35 PSI). If your local gas station’s air pump doesn’t have this capability, then you will need to fill up the tire, check the pressure with your gauge, and then add or release air as necessary. Some air pumps will have a built-in tire pressure gauge. Once the PSI level is set, feed coins into the machine until you hear the air coming through. It will be pretty noisy.
  • You want to act quickly because you only have a few minutes before the pump turns off. Bring the tip of the air valve to your closest tire valve (or the lowest tire). Hold it firmly against the valve as you listen to the air filling the tire.
  • Make sure your vehicle is close enough to the pump so you don’t have to move and pay for another air session.
  • Give the pump some time to fill up your tires. If you pre-set the PSI on the machine itself, you will hear a loud beeping noise when the desired PSI is reached. If not, fill up the air for around 5-10 seconds and then check the tire pressure with your pressure gauge. Check the air pressure as you go and refill or release air as necessary.
  • If you go over the recommended PSI, you can release air from the tire by depressing the center valve pin with your tire gauge or a similar tool (a fingernail can also do the job). Release the air in small increments and check the pressure as you go.
  • When you have reached the desired pressure, make sure you check all your tires again with your pressure gauge. If all is well, you are done adding air.
  • Remember those valve caps we told you to keep safe. You’ll want to screw them back on now.

Remember, just one drop in PSI can lower your gas mileage by about 0.2%. For every 3-4 PSI units that your tire is underinflated, you are burning around 1% more fuel.

If your tires are flat, then you probably have a leak. Add air and see if you can drive around without the pressure dropping. If you hear air escaping the tire while you are filling up, then it’s time to replace the tire.

Tip: Learn how to use the air pump properly first. Some automatic air pumps at gas stations have a handle/switch that you need to depress in order for the air to flow. When you let go of the handle, a tire pressure gauge will pop out showing you the tire pressure. At the same time, air will be slowly released. If your air pump has this kind of handle, then you will want to hold down the handle for most of the time, periodically releasing it to check the pressure reading. Consult your own tire pressure gauge for accuracy.

When should I replace my tires?

If you check your tire pressure at least once a month as recommended, you’ll also get a good idea of the general condition of your tires and when you should replace them.

We recommend using the penny test:

how to tell if you need to replace car tires - penny test

Source: bridgestonetire.com

  • Take a penny and insert the top part of Lincoln’s head (head down) into one of the tire treads. If you can see his entire head, it’s time to replace your tire immediately.
  • Consider a replacement soon if only a small part of his head is cut off. You are good to go if Lincoln’s forehead is covered. Use the penny test on a few areas of each tire to get a more accurate reading.

Click here for more car maintenance tips. Click here for car winterization tips.


Auto Simple wants you to find a vehicle you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call: 

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining vehicles: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

Vehicle Dashboard Warning Lights | What Do They Mean?

vehicle warning lights and what they mean

If we’re honest with ourselves, we probably don’t know what all of our vehicle’s warning lights and symbols mean. What they mean for most of us is a slight increase in stress levels and a trip to the mechanic. Some of us choose to ignore them entirely until the car eventually breaks down.

While some warning lights may seem inconsequential, it’s important to know what they mean and how to react. Warning lights illuminate whenever there is a problem with one or more of your vehicle’s functions.

If left unchecked, minor problems can turn into major repairs. So keep a close eye on your dashboard and don’t ignore the warning signs. Most of these warning lights can be prevented with regular service and maintenance.

These strange hieroglyphics vary from vehicle to vehicle, so be sure to check your owner’s manual for specific information about your vehicle. In many cars, the warning lights will illuminate briefly when the engine is turned on to check the bulb. If warning lights remain illuminated, however, you should take your vehicle in for service.

Red, Yellow/Orange, Green, and Blue Lights

As with most things, there are levels to this. A red warning light demands immediate attention (don’t drive any further), while yellow/orange warning lights indicate a problem that needs to be serviced soon.

If you see a green or blue light, this normally indicates that a certain car function is on or currently in use.

Standard Dashboard Warning Lights

1. Check Engine Light

check engine - car warning light

What it looks like: A yellow submarine

What it is: The Check Engine Light

I’m sure we’ve all seen this one before. It’s one of the more serious lights to pay attention to and normally indicates an emissions or general engine running problem. Sometimes the word “check” appears near the engine symbol, sometimes not at all. Older vehicles may not have a symbol at all, just the text “Check Engine” or “Service Engine Soon.”

In many vehicles, the check engine light illuminates whenever the engine is turned on to check the bulb. If the light stays illuminated, the car’s diagnostic systems have detected a malfunction that needs to be investigated. If the check engine light begins to flash or blink, this may indicate an engine misfire is occurring.

What to do: If the check engine light stays on, take the vehicle in to be serviced as soon as you can.

If the check engine light is blinking, drive delicately at moderate speeds (slow acceleration and deceleration) until you can get your car to a mechanic. It can be very dangerous and damaging to drive while the check engine light is flashing! Click here for more reasons why your check engine light might be on.

2. Battery Light

battery vehicle charging warning light

What it looks like: A winking robot

What it is: The Battery/Charging System Light

The battery light indicates that the car’s charging system is short of power or is not charging properly. This can lead to electrical problems involving your power steering, braking, lights, and engine. It normally indicates a problem with the battery itself or the alternator.

What to do: Take your vehicle in to get serviced as soon as you can. Most likely, you just need to replace your battery. Other causes may include wiring problems, a faulty alternator, or a faulty battery.

3. Temperature Warning Light

engine temperature warning light

What it looks like: A pirate ship or a key submerged in water

What it is: The Engine/Coolant Temperature Warning Light

The temperature warning light means that the engine is, or is very close to overheating.

Some cars may not have a specific engine warning light. You may only have a temperature gauge with a red section (H) at the highest end of the gauge. If the needle enters the red section, the engine is overheating and should be stopped as soon as safely possible.

Other times, an “engine overheating” or “temp” message will illuminate, sometimes alternating with a flashing radiator or fan icon.

What to do: Never drive with an overheating engine! Stop driving as soon as you possibly can and switch off the engine to allow the engine to cool.

If the engine temperature warning light comes on again, you probably have a problem with your coolant, radiator, or water pump. Drive the car at a low speed to your local mechanic.

WARNING: NEVER open the coolant reservoir cap while the engine is hot or running.

4. Oil Pressure Warning

engine oil pressure indicator warning light

What it looks like: A magic genie lamp or a Neti pot

What it is: The Engine Oil Pressure Indicator Light

The oil pressure warning light indicates a loss of oil pressure, meaning lubrication is low or lost completely.

What to do: Do not drive while this light is illuminated! If you see this light come on while driving, stop the car as soon as it is safe to do so.

You should check your motor oil level and pressure as soon as you can. If that doesn’t get the light to turn off, have your vehicle checked out by a professional mechanic before you do any more damage to your vehicle.

5. ABS Warning

antilock brake system warning light

What it looks like: An abs workout reminder

What it is: The Antilock Brake System (if equipped)

The antilock brake system regulates brake pressure to prevent wheels from locking during braking. If the ABS is not working properly, the wheels may lock up and cause a dangerous driving situation.

If the ABS light remains on, the antilock brake system needs professional diagnosis. Sometimes the warning light is only text, such as “Antilock” or “ABS.” In some vehicles, the ABS warning is red. In others, it is yellow or orange.

In some vehicles, the ABS turns on when the antilock brake system is active. If it remains on, however, ABS safety features have been turned off.

What to do: If the ABS light stays lit, a malfunction in your antilock brake system has been detected. Have your vehicle professionally serviced as soon as you can.

6. Airbag Indicator

SRS supplemental restraint system airbag indicator light

What it looks like: A meteor is heading your way

What it is: The Airbag Indicator, a.k.a. Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)

The airbag warning light indicates something wrong with your airbag system. For the safety of you and your passengers, take the vehicle in for service as soon as possible.

What to do: If the airbag light does not illuminate when you turn the ignition, continues to flash, or stays illuminated, one or more of your airbags are malfunctioning. Take the vehicle in for service immediately.

7. Safety Belt Reminder

seat belt reminder indicator warning light

What it looks like: An obese child wearing a bandolier

What it is: The Seat Belt Reminder Light

Chiming or beeping usually accompanies the seat belt reminder light.

What to do: Fasten your seat belt! If your seat belt is fastened, the warning light may come on if you have a lot of weight on one of the seats. Either remove the weight or buckle the seat belt on the corresponding seat.

8. Brake System Warning

vehicle brake system warning light

What it looks like: A Pokémon gym is nearby

What it is: The Brake System Warning Light

This warning light illuminates when there is a problem with your brakes. You may also see a light that says “Brake.” This can indicate that the parking brake is applied, there is low brake fluid, or the brake system needs to be inspected immediately.

If the light only comes on when you pressing down on the brake pedal, you may have a problem with your hydraulic circuits (bad hose, leaky disk caliber, or something else). If the pedal feels loose or goes to the floor, pull the vehicle over as soon as safely possible.

What to do: Check the brake fluid and make sure the parking brake isn’t on. If adding brake fluid and releasing the parking brake doesn’t turn the light off, have the brake system inspected immediately.

If both the ABS and Brake Light Warning lights come on, you could have a seriously dangerous problem with your brakes. Stop the car as soon as safely possible and get your brake system inspected.

9. TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)

tire pressure warning light

What it looks like: A boiling cauldron

What it is: The Tire Pressure Warning Light (if equipped)

Some vehicles come with a tire pressure monitoring system. The light comes on when one or more of your tires have low pressure. It is usually red or yellow.

What to do: Check the tire pressure on all of your tires. Refer to your owner’s manual for recommended PSI levels.

10. Check Gas Cap

fuel gas cap warning light

What it looks like: A big screw is stuck in your car

What it is: The Gas Cap Warning Light

If the gas/fuel cap is not properly tightened, the gas cap warning light will come on. Some vehicles display text instead, such as “Check Gas Cap.” The gas cap prevents fuel from evaporating out of the tank and keeps rain, dust, and other things from entering the tank. If left unattended, the check engine light will illuminate.

What to do: Pull over and tighten the gas cap. If you drive around with your gas cap loose or missing, the check engine light will normally come on. If tightening the gas cap doesn’t work, you may have a cracked or damaged cap. Go to your local auto parts store to find a replacement (they are quite cheap). If that doesn’t do the trick, take the vehicle to your dealer or mechanic.

– Images courtesy of Bigstock

More Dashboard Warning Lights

vehicle dashboard warning lights

Source: banggood.com

You May Be Interested In:


Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

Thanksgiving Car-B-Q | How to Cook a Meal on a Car Engine

Thanksgiving Car-B-Q - how to cook a meal on a car engine

The annual day of family and food is just a week away! There are many different ways that Americans choose to cook their traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Some prefer the aroma of a slow roast, while others salivate for a deep-fried bird. There is one unique way that you may not have thought of — instead of a BBQ for the festive day, have you ever considered a Car-B-Q?

Believe it or not, cooking a full holiday meal right on your car’s engine is not only doable; it’s delicious! Here are some techniques for filling your tummies without the kitchen cleanup. We’ll also offer up our favorite concoctions for car cooking.

So, wherever you are this Thanksgiving, all you need for a hot meal is your vehicle and a little engine-uity!

Engine Cooking: Safety First

For safety, there are some practices you should adhere to when engine cooking:

First of all, NEVER poorly wrap your food or place it somewhere that may disrupt the engine’s parts.

Secondly, ALWAYS place food on the engine when it is off.

Other tips include:

  • Avoid foods that contain a lot of liquid. Even if your meal is wrapped well with foil, juices could leak out onto your engine, and that’s never good.
  • Place your food in a static location. Don’t pull wires or mess with any of the engine’s parts in order to make your food fit. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.
  • Do not jam the accelerator linkage or block airflow. Either one of these could cause your engine to break down.
  • Wrap your food items in at least 2-3 layers of foil. Foil is the main necessity when car cooking. Without lots of foil protection, do not attempt to put food on or near your engine.
  • When removing the food, use tongs or oven mitts. The engine is hot and so is your food. Carefully remove, unwrap, and serve.

The Foil Cone Test

The best advice we’ve seen for calculating the size of the meal you can safely cook on your engine is a method called “The Foil Cone Test,” This quick assessment of space will ensure that you correctly cut, wrap, and cook your meal without causing a hazard for yourself or your engine.

foil cone test - how to cook food on car engine

Source: iveneverdonethat.com

Before trying out a full meal, do this:

  • Place a “foil cone” that is approximately 5 inches tall onto the injector housing, then close the hood of the car on it. Open the hood to examine. If the cone is crushed, then you don’t have much room to cook, and your meals will need to be slim, like thin cuts of meat, fish, and sliced veggies or potatoes that can lay flat.
  • If your foil cone is not crushed, then you have plenty of room to stuff your foil cones with food, but remember you’ll need extra foil so that your food does not move around or leak onto your engine.
  • When securing the food, make sure it is snug and not near any moving parts. You can help secure it with additional foil or with baling wire (not any tubes or wires in your car). Use common sense.
  • Pick the right meal for the trip. Some meals take longer than others—don’t plan your trip around the meal, plan the meal around the trip (next to each recipe will be approximate cooking mileage).

Manifold Destiny book cover

These tips and the following recipes can be found in the quirky and innovative book, Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine.

Road Trip Thanksgiving

To Grandmother’s House Road Turkey – Cooking Distance: 220+ miles

If you’re already planning to road trip to a relative’s house, and will be driving 200+ miles, you’ll have plenty of time to cook at least 5 pounds of turkey! With these instructions, you can roast turkey and road trip at the same time.

Ingredients:

1 Boneless turkey breast, up to 5 lbs., sliced into thin strips against the grain
3 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, finely diced
Dry white wine
Flour for dredging
Butter for greasing foil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¾ cup heavy cream

Steps:

  1. At home, combine the turkey, potatoes and carrots into a bowl with the wine and cover. Marinate two hours in the refrigerator, and then drain well (and don’t drink the wine).
  2. Setting the vegetables aside, dredge the turkey pieces in flour, and then heavily butter five large squares of foil. Arrange equal amounts of turkey and vegetables in each square, and season with sale and pepper as desired.
  3. Cup the foil around the turkey and vegetables, and pour over each serving as much heavy cream as you can without making a soupy mess, then seal carefully.
  4. Cook on the engine about four hours, turning once. We’re assuming grandmother doesn’t live in the next town.

large turkey - how to cook turkey on car engine

Source: usatoday.com/driveon

Pat’s Provolone Porsche Potatoes – Cooking distance: 55 miles

What’s a turkey without sides? As an alternative to mashed potatoes with gravy, serve sliced potatoes with provolone, after cooking them on the medium-hot parts of your engine.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound new potatoes
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 ounces grated aged provolone (or my favorite, aged cheddar)
Butter
Salt & pepper

Steps:

  1. Peel and slice potatoes to 1.4 inch thick.
  2. Place in a saucepan with the milk and water and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, and then spread onto heavily buttered foil.
  4. Sprinkle with your cheese (or cheeses, experiment with flavors) and seasonings.
  5. Sprinkle with butter, triple-wrap and place around medium-hot parts of the engine. Delicious.

car coking with tin foil

Source: wisebread.com

Cruise-Control Pork Tenderloin – Cooking distance: 250 miles

Looking for a different meat option to cook this Thanksgiving? “Cruise-Control Pork Tenderloin” is another car engine delight you can try out this holiday season.

Ingredients:

1 large pork tenderloin, butterflied
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp dry white wine
1/2 cup red onion, minced
2 tsp rosemary (fresh), crushed
Salt & pepper

Steps:

  1. Blend together all of the ingredients (except the pork) and spread across the inside of the pork tenderloin.
  2. Close up the pork, triple-wrap in foil and place on a medium-hot part of the engine. Turn once at 125 miles during cooking.

how to cook meals on car engine

Source: wisebread.com

Engine block cooking isn’t just for long trips. For short commutes, consider heating up pre-made breakfast sandwiches or making some hot dogs. We recommend experimenting with a meal or two before using this as a reliable cooking method.

Once you have found a suitable cooking surface and successfully cooked a meal, now you can use pretty much any recipe for the oven, for your car! Click here for more car-b-q recipes. Just make sure there aren’t a lot of liquids and that the food is fully sealed.

It will take a little experimentation to get the cooking times down, but if you check the food around 10-15 minutes before it’s supposed to be done, you should be safe.

If you’ve never tried this before, we recommend these safer ideas for what to bring to Thanksgiving:

  • Bread
  • Dessert
  • Coffee
  • Flowers
  • Wine/Booze

Click here for Black Friday Gift Ideas for Car-Lovers.

Wishing you safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!


Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+. 

How to Change Your Motor Oil (and Filter)

motor oil container - How to Change Your Oil and Filter

How much do you pay for a motor oil change? $95? $45? Even if you have a Groupon to Jiffy Lube, it’s cheaper to change the oil yourself. But if frugality doesn’t convince you, perhaps a rejuvenated sense of pride and self-confidence will. Besides, everyone thinks working on a car is sexy.

When should I change my motor oil? 

Although you’ve probably heard the recommendation to change your oil every 3,000 or 5,000 miles, newer cars and oils can handle longer distances. Changing your motor oil too frequently is bad for the environment and your wallet. For the most accurate advice, always check your owner’s manual for the mileage intervals between oil changes.

Neglecting regular oil changes can permanently damage your engine.

How to Change Your Motor Oil (and Filter)

Time:

If you have all the materials on hand, you can change your motor oil and oil filter in under 30 minutes.

Materials:

  1. Motor Oil

First, you need to make sure you have the proper oil for your engine. Unfortunately, as in many cases, we have a case of choice overload—synthetic, synthetic-blend, conventional, premium conventional, high-mileage, heavy duty—you see what I mean!

As with mileage intervals between oil changes, consult your owner’s manual for the correct weight/viscosity of the oil and how many quarts you need, sometimes listed under the heading, “capacities.” Usually, it is around 4–6 liters (1.1–1.6 gallons).

No matter what type of oil you choose, always follow manufacturer instructions.

  1. Oil Filter

Whenever you change the oil, you’ll also want to change the filter. Different cars require different oil filters, so again, consult your user’s manual.

You can also show up to the auto parts store with the year, make, and model of your car, and they should be able to look it up for you.

  1. Socket Wrench

You will need a 6 point socket wrench to loosen the drain plug. If you have a socket wrench kit, you should already have the right-sized wrench for the job (Japanese and European cars usually require a metric set). If not, you can find the right-sized attachment for under $5.

  1. Oil Filter Wrench or Pliers 

You might need an oil filter wrench or oil filter pliers to remove the old oil filter, which will set you back around $5-$10. Make sure you buy the right size. If you’re lucky, however, you might be able to remove the filter by hand.

  1. Car Jack or Car Ramp

Use a car jack (with jack stands) or a car ramp to get your car off the ground.

  1. Drain Pan, Funnel, and Plastic Jug

You need three things to properly dispose of the old oil: a pan or bucket to catch the oil, and a funnel and old plastic milk jug to transport it. Improper disposal of motor oil is illegal.

  1. Old Rags, Disposable Gloves, and Safety Glasses

Motor oil has toxic contaminants that you want to keep away from your skin, eyes, and mouth. Wear safety glasses and use disposable nitrile gloves and rags to wipe off any excess oil.

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Drain Motor Oil:

  • Warm up the car

In order to facilitate oil flow, make sure the engine is warm by taking the vehicle for a spin around the block or by letting it idle for 5-10 minutes. Once the engine is warm, find yourself a flat surface to work on.

WARNING: To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never let your car idle in a garage or other enclosed area.

  • Park on flat surface and jack up vehicle

hydraulic car jack and jack stand - added car safety

Source: Howard Klaaste/Bigstock.com

Make sure the car is on a flat surface, put the car in park, apply the parking break, and remove the keys. Look up your car’s jacking points in the owner’s manual and jack up the engine side of the vehicle.

If you are using a jack, support the vehicle with jack stands! We also recommend restraining rear tires with wheel blocks to prevent the back wheels from rolling.

If you are using a ramp, drive up it front wheels first, but be careful not to overshoot. Once safely on the ramp, engage the parking break and turn the engine off.

WARNING: Always follow safety instructions for the proper use of ramps and car jacks.

  • Remove the oil dipstick

cleaning motor oil dipstick - how to change motor oil

Source: vladacanon/Bigstock.com

Now that the car is securely lifted, put on your gloves and pop the hood. Remove the oil dipstick, which will allow the oil to drain smoother and faster. If you can’t find your oil dipstick, consult the owner’s manual.

  • Locate the oil pan and oil plug

Next, you’ll need to get underneath your car to find the oil pan, which looks like a flat metal pan underneath to the engine, further away from the transmission.

The oil plug looks like a large bolt on the bottom of the oil pan. If you are having difficulty locating the oil pan, consult your owner’s manual.

  • Place a drain pan or large bucket underneath the oil pan

The container you choose should be large enough to hold all the old oil that will soon be draining out. Most cars hold about 4-5 quarts of oil, so make sure the container can safely catch at least that amount. We also recommend laying out some newspaper to prevent oil stains.

  • Remove the oil plug

oil draining out of motor oil drain pan - how to change oil (and filter)

Source: Dvortygirl/Wikimedia Commons

Before you drain the motor oil, make sure you have your gloves and safety glasses on. Once you find the oil plug bolt at the bottom of the pan, start loosening it with the proper sized socket wrench (some vehicles may have two drain plugs).

When the bolt head is loose, use your gloved hands to remove the plug very slowly, so that the oil drips into the bucket/pan below.

Oil will flow quickly at first, but will it will take up to 30 minutes for all the oil to drain out.

WARNING: Oil may be very hot!

  • Replace the plug and add a new washer

When the oil has stopped dripping, clean up any excess oil and wipe the drain plug and plug threads with a rag.

After inspecting the condition of your drain plug and gasket, replace the plug and add a new drain plug gasket if necessary.

If your plug and washer are still in good condition, reinstall the plug and tighten it as far as you can with your hand. Then use a 6-pt. socket wrench to secure it, while being careful not to over-tighten it.

2. Replace Oil Filter:

  • Locate and remove oil filter

removing oil filter with socket wrench

Source: Dvortygirl/Wikimedia Commons

Unfortunately, there isn’t a standard location for oil filters, so you may have to spend some time locating it. This may be the hardest part! If you are having any difficulty, consult the owner’s manual.

The old oil filter will have some oil inside, so make sure a pan or bucket is underneath to catch any excess oil. You may need a socket-type oil filter wrench to remove the old filter, however, many can be removed by hand.

Once the filter is removed and the excess oil has drained, use a rag to clean the area and check for any loose gaskets or debris that may be stuck inside the mounting plate.

  • Lubricate new filter with oil and screw into place

Use your glove-covered finger to spread a little oil over the gasket of your new filter and thread it into the opening where the filter goes. You should be able to tighten it by hand.

Oil filters come with specific instructions for how many rotations you need to tighten it (located on the packaging or the filter itself). When in doubt, see owner’s manual for instructions.

3. Add Clean Oil and Recycle Oil & Filter:

  • Refill new oil

After the drain plug is replaced and the new filter installed, use a clean funnel to fill your car with new oil. Consult your owner’s manual to find out the correct viscosity and volume you should pour in, but most cars take 4–6 liters. Once you have replaced the oil, screw the oil cap back on.

For the most accurate oil level readings, check your dipstick first thing in the morning, when the car is cool and on a level surface.

  • Run the car and inspect for leaks

You’re almost done! After pouring in the correct amount of new oil, close the hood, return the dipstick, run the engine, and look under the car for any oil leaks or spills (especially near the oil pan and filter). If you see a leak, cut the engine and let it cool before repairing the leak.

Once you have checked for leaks, turn the engine off and wait one minute before lowering the vehicle to the ground.

  • Clean up and write down the date and mileage of the car.

Look around and clean up any oil, newspaper, or rags. Write down the date of your oil change and mileage of your vehicle and leave it in the car for future reference. Follow the owner’s manual for the proper mileage in between oil changes.

WARNING: Change your oil on a regular basis to avoid permanent damage to your vehicle.

  • Return oil dipstick and properly dispose of old oil and oil filter

It is a crime to throw your old oil and filter away in the sewer or trash. In order to abide by local and federal laws, you need to recycle your old oil at a local gas station, auto shop, or recycling center. Just transport your oil, using a funnel, into a couple of empty milk jugs and take them to a recycling center near you.

WARNING: Be careful not to contaminate the recycling process by using empty paint cans, bleach containers, or anything else that used to contain chemicals. Make sure you call the recycling center first for days and hours of operation.

That’s it! Now grab a cold one and congratulate yourself for saving money and learning a new skill.

Auto Simple Offers FREE Oil Changes!

Become a Preferred Customer of Auto Simple simply by signing up for recurring payments from your checking account via ACH or debit card and earn FREE oil changes every 90 days for the life of your loan!*

If you have any questions about how to change your oil or filter, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 423-584-6700.

Image Sources: Bigstock and Wikimedia Commons


Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car. We specialize in financing for all credit levels, low down payments, and affordable weekly payments. In most cases we can have you driving your new car in less than an hour.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Google+.

*Preferred Customer program and free conventional oil changes every ninety (90) days are contingent upon the customer electing to make recurring payments to via ACH or debit card. Additionally, to continue in the Preferred Customer program and receive free oil changes, the customer’s loan must remain in good standing, and the customer may not cancel the recurring payment election. See store for further details. Other restrictions may apply.