In This Chapter
► Knowing when to do it yourself
► Paying attention to safety
► Filling ‘er up yourself
► Getting under the hood
► Jacking up the car p- Changing a tire
► Getting into your car when you lock yourself out
► Taking things apart (and putting them back together again)
If you’re not particularly mechanically inclined, you may watch those who 4C are with admiration and amazement — and exasperation because they have something you don’t: an understanding of how things work and how things go together. When they take something apart, they can reassemble it back the way it was. When they say that they want to take a look under the hood, they can actually get the darn thing open. And when they need to change a flat, they don’t spend ten minutes trying to figure out which end of the jack is up.
The good news is that you don’t have to be born with a wrench in your hand to know how to fix things — even things as seemingly complicated as a car. I know; I’ve been there. The section in the Introduction called “How I Became Intimately Involved with My Car (and Why You’ll Want to Do It, Too)” tells you all about my automotive epiphany.
Of course, the simplest things can sometimes be the biggest hurdles to overcome. After all, if you can’t even figure out how to open the hood, how can you check the oil or the coolant level? That’s why I begin this topic with a chapter on the basics. I explain simple tasks that you use again and again as you work on your vehicle — like how to open the hood, jack up a car, and change a tire. I also include instructions for filling the tank with gas yourself (it’s cheaper than full-service), a surefire method for taking anything apart and putting it back together again, and safety pointers that every mechanic — experienced and beginner — should heed.
You can find a definition in the Practical Glossary of Automotive Terms at the end of the topic for any word that’s printed in this special type.