tb-two* photo galleries
Just about everyone knows someone who has been bullied, in ways big and small. Understandably, though, many victims are reluctant to speak about their experiences. We found some who aren't.
BY KASSIDY ARIAS, Tarpon Springs High
New driver? New, at least to you, vehicle? Don’t know much about upkeep? Learn from a mechanic how to be proactive and keep a car in good health.
Richard Abare, owner and head mechanic of Richard’s Imported Auto Repair in Tarpon Springs, has been repairing cars for more than 11 years. Vehicles owned by younger drivers appear in his shop frequently, making up a greater part of the 30 cars that he sees each week. Based on common problems that he observes in these cars, Abare has three important tips to keep a new or used car in good condition.
Learn how to check the fluids.
This may be the tip that requires the most practice, but it is essential in keeping a car’s engine running, old or new. There are plenty of fluids to check to make sure they stay at proper levels — window washer, transmission, brake, power steering, coolant — but the most important is the oil.
“The oil is the most frequent change and the hardest to keep up with, but you risk ruining the engine.” Abare says.
To check the oil, make sure the car is parked on a flat surface. Let the car cool down for about an hour or so to get the most accurate reading. Pop the hood and locate the dipstick. It has a loop on the end making it easy to hook a finger through and pull out. If you can’t find it, refer to the owner’s manual.
Take a cloth or paper towel and clean the dipstick. Insert it back into the opening it came out of (making sure it’s as far in as it can go) and yank it back out to get a reading. The oil stain should be a clear color and located between the two markings indicated on the dipstick. If the oil stain is black or located below the indicated marks, it’s time to get the oil changed. It if the oil is a milky color, it could mean that water is leaking into it. If it is milky, take the car to a mechanic.
It’s best to check a car’s oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or how often recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Check the owner’s manual for this information.
Always watch the temperature gauge.
This is located on the dashboard and marked with a “C” and “H” — indicating the temperature of the engine.
Checking the temperature gauge is a simple process, just look at it. If the needle is pointing directly in the middle of the “C” and “H” or slightly toward the “C,” the temperature is normal.
If the needle points more toward the “C,” the engine is too cold and the transmission may start acting unusual. If this begins to happen, take the car to a mechanic for repairs. Otherwise, don’t worry too much about it.
If the needle is pointing more toward the “H” however, there’s a serious problem. It may be that there’s an abnormal amount of coolant lost. In this case, there could be a slow leak. Or the thermostat may be stuck closed. Another possibility may be that the water pump or head gasket is cracked or damaged. Don’t hesitate to take action; take the car to a mechanic as soon as possible and be sure to turn off the air conditioner. Believe it or not, turning on the heater (and rolling down your windows) helps transfer the engine’s heat to the passenger compartment. “Two minutes of overheating is two minutes too long.” Abare says. “You could ruin the engine.”
Don’t let any sound go unchecked.
Get used to listening to the vehicle. Be familiar with the usual noises the car makes.
“Any clicks, clunks, rattle, or ticks should be checked immediately,” Abare says.
These noises could be as simple as a loose nut that needs to be tightened, or as dangerous and costly as replacing the entire engine. The possibilities are endless and ignoring them could be truly risky.
“Don’t let anything go because it can only get worse,” Abare says.