Gray Matter


Personal Vehicles and Basic Automotive Maintenance

personal vehiclesMost Americans own one or more personal vehicles, or someone in their immediate families do. There are some, of course, who have never owned and will never own a personal vehicle, without anyone in their families owning one either. There are people in the first group who can’t or won’t perform basic automotive maintenance on their vehicles. It’s usually due to laziness.

Basic Automotive Maintenance

I’m not familiar with diesel engines, and I’m not familiar with electric vehicles. I’m familiar with the most common, gasoline-powered vehicles. While I’m sure every other type of vehicle requires maintenance, I can only write about the vehicles I’m familiar with. While I may not be intimate with certain vehicle designs, I’m certain the basic automotive maintenance would be the same as those I am intimate with.

I’ve never owned an SUV or a pickup truck, although I’ve ridden in many. I’ve owned cars and vans, and you can call them whatever you want. Some cars are called coupes and some are called sedans, but I can’t tell you which are which without spending more time thinking about them than I already am.

It’s easier to maintain personal vehicles than it ever was, in my opinion. You can buy air compressors to keep your tires inflated to the level indicated on the sidewalls, and they aren’t expensive. Many of them can be plugged into vehicle electrical accessory ports (which were originally used for cigarette lighters). Automotive stores can provide you with all the fluids for the items you need to check periodically.

Lazy people will wait until they have periodic service done by car dealers, or places that specialize in automotive services. Places such as Firestone and Jiffy Lube. My wife and I used Jiffy Lube for years when we lived in Phoenix, Arizona, but only for oil changes and making sure the batteries didn’t need to be replaced.

The Things We Need to Check

A lot of people ignore the one thing that tells us exactly what we need to do and when. It’s the automotive users’ manual that comes with the car. Sometimes, especially when buying used cars, the manual isn’t included. Fortunately, most of them can be found online as PDF files these days. Unfortunately, it can take hours to find the right ones.

There are checks that should be performed weekly, unless you drive less than once a week like I do. It really is up to you to determine how often you need to check these things. Most automotive service centers suggest 3000 miles (5000 kilometers) or three months at the minimum for simply changing the oil.

The weekly checks should be:

If done weekly, it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to do everything, provided you have extra containers of fluid stored somewhere. My daughter-in-law’s hatchback has over 140,000 miles on it and the only things we have to worry about is the radiator and the tires. It took us a year to add 3000 miles to it. We get the oil changed when we get the State of Hawaii safety check.

The car runs hot, so we have to add a gallon of coolant to the radiator every month. Because the roads have more potholes than should be legally allowed, we have to check the tire pressure before we travel longer distances, along with the weekly checks. That’s simply to make sure the check wasn’t forgotten the week before.

Living Without Personal Vehicles

When we’re young, usually teenagers, we can’t wait to start driving some type of personal vehicle. That novelty wears off when it becomes a necessity. Personally, I envy those who can live without owning or driving personal vehicles. I’ve never been fortunate enough to live anywhere with good mass transit options for very long.

Some people live in places where there isn’t anywhere to park a vehicle, but they have good mass transit options nearby. They may see the lack of a vehicle as a disadvantage, but I see it as a blessing. It’s that way in most places in the Philippines, outside the Manila metro area anyway. I would much rather ride a bus or train (or jeepney or tricycle) than deal with owning a car.

When you consider every expense that comes with owning a personal vehicle, using a mass transit option can quickly become a preferred method of travel. The expenses include insurance costs, yearly registration fees and the items you need to maintain it. A personal vehicle is usually a family’s second highest expense, just after their home. And they don’t even last very long in comparison to a house.

Photo Attribution: Pexels from Pixabay

Author: RT Cunningham
Date: March 22, 2021 (UTC)
Categories: Travel

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