Hints and TipsWhat You Don't Know Can Hurt You.
Your Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram or FIAT® vehicle is a complex machine. Beneath its sculpted exterior, thousands of parts work in tandem to deliver world-class performance. Maintaining such a level of quality requires that you become as familiar as possible with some of your vehicle's most important parts. This Hints and Tips section will help get you started.
- Tire Pressure And Your Safety
- Your Car's Battery - Know Before It Fails
- Wiper Blades And Driving Safety
- Oil Changes - How Often Is Often Enough?
- Check Under The Hood
- Steering Warning Signs
- Brakes - Trouble Ahead?
- What To Do After An Accident
"A lot of people check the pressure listed on the tires themselves, but that's actually the wrong place to look." - Car Talk, Car Advisor
If your tires aren't inflated to the correct specifications, they can be dangerous and cause an accident. Here is why the correct tire pressure is so important for your safety.
WHAT IF MY TIRE PRESSURE IS TOO HIGH?
If your tire pressure is too high, your tires are over-inflated and have less contact with the road. This gives your tires less grip and traction, so it decreases your braking power and increases your effective stopping distance.
Over-inflation also increases tire wear in the centre portion of the tread and exposes your tires to damages from objects on the road and potholes. Your ride won't be nearly as comfortable either because your tires are "bouncing" on the road.
WHAT IF MY TIRE PRESSURE IS TOO LOW?
Now you have the opposite situation and too much of your tire is in contact with the road. This makes your tire hot and may result in overheating. In the worst case scenario, this may cause tire failure. Under-inflation also increases tire wear on the tread at the edges and decreases your fuel economy.
WHAT IF I HAVE UNEVEN TIRE PRESSURE?
If your tire pressures are not equal, your car will pull to the left or the right. You will feel this pull through your steering wheel.
WHAT IS MY CORRECT TIRE PRESSURE?
Your recommended tire pressure is printed on a sticker in your glove compartment, door jamb or fuel-filler door. This is the ideal pressure for the tires when used on your specific model vehicle. Note: The pressure on the tire wall is the maximum allowable air pressure, not the recommended pressure. Make sure to check your tire pressure once a month. At the same time inspect your tires for uneven or unusual wear.
"Tire pressure will change with the seasons, so in winter months make sure they are not over-inflated." - www.familycar.com
BATTERIES KNOW BEFORE IT FAILS
"When the temperature drops to near zero, the number of calls the AAA receives from stranded motorists soars," says George Giek, director of AAA Automotive Engineering. "The most common cause of these cold-weather breakdowns is weak or dead batteries." - Car Care Council
How do you know when to replace your car's battery? Because its life varies according to the type of vehicle you drive, the geographical region you live in, and your individual driving habits, it is impossible to specify hard and fast replacement intervals.
However you can monitor your vehicle for signs that your battery may be about to fail. Here are the most common warning signs:
- Your starter motor is slow to turn over.
- Your battery light stays illuminated while your engine is running.
- Your battery loses power fast in cold or extended starts.
- Your headlights dim when the engine idles.
- The charge indicator on the top of your Maintenance-Free battery shows yellow or black.
" The average life of a battery is three and one-half years. If you are driving around with a battery that is older than that, then you shouldn't be surprised if you are stranded at the train station parking lot or the shopping centre." - Car Care Council
WIPER BLADES AND DRIVING SAFETY
"Wiper blades should be changed every 9,500 to 16,000 km." - www.familycar.com
Wiper blades can be a safety hazard if they become damaged or worn. They impair your visibility and consequently reduce your reaction time in the event of an accident.
Yet, wiper blades deteriorate so gradually, it is often difficult to notice. So how can you tell if your blades need replacing? Don't trust your eyes; look for these signs.
INSPECT YOUR WINDSHIELD FOR THESE SIGNS:
- Oil-like film
- Missed sections
- Blades lifting off the windshield
- Beading after the blade passes
- Blades chattering across the glass
- Cracked, split or slashed rubber
- Worn, ragged edges
- Road grime, chemical-causing film or other contamination
- Torn rubber pulling away from the blade
- Bent or cracked wiper arm or wiper blade
- Lost flexibility in rubber
- Gently lift the wiper arm and rotate the blade at the pivot.
- Pinch the release tab on the wiper blade and slide the blade assembly out from the hook and out of the wiper arm.
- Slide on a replacement blade of the same length.
- Gently push until locking tab clicks into place.
Wipe off any buildup of road grime, chemicals and salt from the rubber edges of the blade with a sponge or a soft cloth and a mild cleaner.
Every time you clean your windshield, remember to quickly clean your wiper blades too.
OIL CHANGES - HOW OFTEN IS OFTEN ENOUGH?
" Engine Oil: Your Car's Life Blood... No other maintenance item is so important for extending the vehicle's life and reducing repair costs."
- AAA Auto Guide: Making Sense of Car Care
Oil changes remove contaminants like carbon and metal from your engine. If you leave these contaminants there, they can slowly damage your engine and result in expensive repairs.
This is why regular oil changes are important. But how often is often enough? Take this simple quiz.
DO ANY OF THESE DESCRIBE YOUR DRIVING STYLE OR CONDITIONS?
- Lots of stop-and-go driving
- Day or night temperatures drop below 0°C
- Extensive engine idling
- Driving in dusty conditions
- Short trips of less than 16 km
- 50% of driving is at high speeds during weather over 32°C
- Towing a trailer or boat
- Taxi, police car, delivery or other commercial service
- Regular off-road or desert operation
- Operating with E85 (ethanol) fuel
If you didn't answer yes to any of the above, refer to your vehicle's Owner's Manual or ask your specialist.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHECK MY OIL?
It is important to check your oil between oil changes too. Your Owner's Manual recommends that you check your oil each time you stop for gas. If your oil is below the ADD mark, always top it off.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I RUN OUT OF OIL?
If your engine runs out of oil, it will seize and you may need to replace the entire engine. It's also worth knowing that any engine damage that results from lack of oil usually voids your warranty.
" New vehicles require less attention and most problems are covered by warranty, BUT if the problem has to do with low oil, and as a result, engine damage occurs, you are not covered."
- Car Care Council
CHECK UNDER THE HOOD
"Remember, it is cheaper to look at, check, and replace components before failure than it is to drive your car until it drops."
- Car Care Council
If you look after your car, it will look after you - with lower repair and maintenance costs, higher resale value and a longer life. So how do you look after your hi-tech machine between scheduled services? Once a month, do our eight-step, quick check.
1. CHECK YOUR TIRES AND TIRE PRESSURE
Look for damage or uneven wear on your tires. If you find any signs, show your specialist. Next, make sure your tire pressure is set to the manufacturer's recommended level. You'll find this on a sticker in your glove compartment, door jam or fuel-filler door.
2. CHECK YOUR COOLANT.
Find your coolant system reservoir near the radiator. You can see the level through the tank. Top it off if needed. Also check that your coolant is not a "rusty" colour. NOTE: Never check the coolant level at the radiator. You may be severely burned or scalded.
3. CHECK THE BRAKE FLUID.
Find the brake master cylinder just behind the steering wheel. Check the fluid level through the transparent reservoir. Top off if required.
4. CHECK THE POWER STEERING FLUID.
Your power steering reservoir has a dipstick inside the cap. Check that the fluid is within the correct range. Note: If you have to add fluid more than once a year, you may have a leak.
5. CHECK THE AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID.
This pink or red fluid turns darker as the fluid gets older. If it looks muddy or smells burnt, show your specialist. Never add fluid unless it is below the ADD mark.
6. CHECK THE LIGHTS AND ELECTRICAL ITEMS.
Check that all your lights are working and test electrical items such as wipers and power windows.
7. CHECK EXTERIOR RADIATOR TANK SEALS.
Check the rubber seals on the radiator for proper fit. Make sure the engine is cold. Never, ever touch a hot or steaming radiator.
8. CONGRATULATIONS. YOU'RE DONE.
Your Owner's Manual also recommends that you check your oil and your windshield washer solvent at every gas stop. Your Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram and FIAT® specialist can help you choose the right fluids for your vehicle or, if you'd prefer, you can just ask your specialist to top off specific fluids for you.
STEERING WARNING SIGNS
" If you have to add fluid more than once or twice a year, have the system checked for leaks. These systems are easily damaged if you drive when the fluid is very low."
- Car Care Council
Problems with your steering occur gradually, so pay attention to small changes in the way your car handles, especially when you turn the wheel. Here are the most common warning signs.
WHAT IS THAT GROWLING NOISE?
If your steering growls when you turn the wheel, your power steering fluid may be low. You may have a leak in the power steering hoses or pump.
WHAT IS THAT BUZZING?
If your steering buzzes when you turn at slow speeds, it may be caused by low power steering fluid.
WHAT IS THAT SQUEALING?
If you hear a high-pitched squeal, your drive belt is likely to be slipping on the power steering unit.
WHAT IS THAT MOANING?
If you hear a moaning noise when you turn the wheel, your power steering pump may be about to fail.
WHY IS IT DIFFICULT TO STEER?
If you have too much play or looseness in the steering, it may indicate worn parts.
WHY IS MY STEERING PULLING TO THE LEFT OR RIGHT?
Your suspension may be out of alignment. Unequal tire pressure may also be the cause.
WHY IS THE STEERING WOBBLING?
Your tires could be the problem. Check to see that your tire pressures are the same and inspect your tires for any damage. If you feel vibrations through the steering wheel, a tire may be out of balance.
WHY IS THE STEERING SUDDENLY HEAVY?
If it takes more effort to turn the wheel, you may have lost your power steering belt or run out of power steering fluid.
If you notice any of these warning signs, speak to your Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram and FIAT® service specialist immediately.
HOW DO I LOOK AFTER MY STEERING?
Outside of your scheduled maintenance visits, you should check your power steering fluid once a month.
BRAKES TROUBLE AHEAD?
"The most ignored fluid... One fluid that gets ignored or forgotten more than any other is the brake fluid. That's strange because low brake fluid can cause you to lose braking altogether."
- AAA Auto Guide: Making Sense of Car Care
We rely on our brakes to keep us out of trouble. Yet most of us know relatively little about how to look after them and how to recognize that they need attention. Here are some warning signs.
WHAT'S THAT SQUEAL?
If you hear a high-pitched noise while you are driving and without applying your brakes, it is usually a sign that your brake pads are worn down and need replacing.
WHAT'S THAT GRINDING SOUND?
A metal-on-metal grinding sound usually means your brake pads are completely worn. This will damage your drums or rotors and markedly reduce braking effectiveness.
WHY IS MY VEHICLE PULLING TO ONE SIDE?
If your brake linings are worn or uneven, it can cause your car to pull to either the right or the left when you brake.
WHY DO I HAVE TO PUMP MY BRAKES?
If you have to pump your brakes to stop your car, there could be a number of reasons. It may be a leak in the brake system, air in the brake lines or you may need a brake adjustment.
WHY IS MY WARNING LIGHT ON?
If your brake system warning light is on, you possibly have a hydraulic system malfunction. If your ABS light is on, the anti-lock system is not functioning.
If you notice any of these warning signs or if you have any other concern about your brakes, contact your Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep®, Ram and FIAT® service specialist immediately.
HOW CAN I LOOK AFTER MY BRAKES?
You should check your brake fluid once every month. Look for the brake master cylinder behind the steering wheel. You should be able to see the fluid level through the transparent tank. Brake fluid depletes very gradually so if you notice a sharp drop get your brake system checked.
"If you neglect your brake pads and shoes, your brakes will ultimately fail. Even before that happens, however, you can cause damage to other, more expensive parts such as rotors, drums and calipers."
- Car Talk, Car Adviser.
WHAT TO DO AFTER AN ACCIDENT
Accidents can happen to anyone, even the safest of drivers. In such a stressful situation, it is difficult to know what you need to do and whom you need to contact. Here are some of the steps you will want to take in an accident.
1. DON'T LEAVE THE SCENE.
Ideally, you should remain in your car until the authorities arrive.
You should call the police to take a report on the scene. In many provinces this is actually a legal requirement. The police report may also help if legal actions are filed in the future.
2. CALL FOR A TOW.
After contacting the police, call a towing company but don't let just anyone tow your car.
Always make sure you know what towing company is taking your car and where it is being towed.
3. CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.
If possible, you should call your insurance company from the scene of the accident.
If you give them all the important information now, it can mean a lot fewer headaches later and will help them administer your claim.
4. GET AN ESTIMATE ON VEHICLE DAMAGE.
While you may only be required to get one estimate on your vehicle's damage, make sure you read it carefully.
You want to know what you (and your insurance company) are going to be paying. Any reputable repair shop will gladly review any questions you have regarding the required repairs.
Write down the important names and numbers you may need in the event of an accident and keep this card handy in your glove compartment.