Car Bibles: Basic Car Maintenance Tips

They don’t damage the paint and are easy to move around and ultimately remove when the fad has passed. Electrical Disconnecting and reconnecting your battery If you’re going to do any work on your car involving the electrical system, disconnect the battery first. To do this, loosen the connector for the negative/ground terminal first, and wiggle the terminal cap off. Use a wire-tie or similar to tie the cable back out of the way. If you need to take the battery out, you can now take off the positive connector. Why negative then positive? If you disconnect the positive side of the battery first, the negative side is still connected to the entire car. If you drop a tool and it lands on the positive battery terminal and touches anything else on the car, you’ll have an electrical short. By disconnecting the negative first, you’re cutting off the return path for the current. Now, if a tool drops on to either of the battery terminals, it doesn’t matter if it touches part of the chassis or not – there’s no continuous path for the electrical current. Reconnecting your battery. Connect the positive terminal first, and the negative second – the reverse of removal, and for the same reasons. When you slip the negative connector on, there will be a spark as it gets close and makes contact with the negative battery terminal. Don’t be afraid of this – it’s nothing to worry about. Make sure the terminal caps are done up nice and tight. Check your battery terminals Most modern cars run on a 12 volt negative ground electrical system. If your battery terminals or contacts aren’t clean, you’re making it more difficult for the current to pass around the electrical system. Remove the terminal caps as described above and clean each contact post with a wire brush to get a nice clean metal contact surface. Do the same to the terminal caps, then reattach them as described above. Lights One indicator or blinker is flashing faster than the other When you indicate one way and the blinker flashes quicker than when you indicate the other way, it means one of the bulbs has blown. An auto parts store will be able to tell you what sort of bulb you need to replace it with and your manual should show you how to get at the indicator bulbs – they’re different on every car. Don’t touch the glass when changing headlight bulbs Most headlight bulbs now are filled with halogen and have special coatings on the outside of the glass. If you pick the bulb up by the glass with your fingers, you will leave trace amounts of oil and grease on the glass. When the bulb is used, that area of the glass will get hotter than the rest and it will eventually cause the bulb to crack.