Once a month, in the morning before you’ve driven your vehicle, arm yourself with a clean, lint-free rag and the household tools mentioned in this chapter, and open the hood of your vehicle. Then check the items in the sections that follow.
The checkup may take a bit longer the first time you do it, but after that, you should be able to whip through this check-in in about 15 minutes. As a matter of fact, you may want to grab this book and your owner’s manual (if you have one), go out to your vehicle, and locate each part while you read. helps you find each part Make a game of it. Enjoy.
Check the Air Filter
In most newer, fuel-injected vehicles, the air filter is found inside a rectangular box called a cold air collector box.
It’s usually close to the front of the vehicle near the inside of one of the fenders. Air that’s scooped up by the front of the vehicle moves through an air intake tube into the air filter inside the box (see Figure 2-2). On older fuel-injected engines and carbureted engines, the filter is found in the air cleaner, which sits atop the engine.
it’s large and round with a snorkel sticking out of the side to facilitate the intake of fresh air. Your owner’s manual should have instructions on how to locate and get at your air filter. If you have no manual, see Chapter 8 for general instructions.
To find out if your air filter needs to be replaced, just lift it out (it isn’t fastened down) and hold it up to the sun or to strong light. Can you see the light streaming through it? If not, try dropping it lightly, bottom-side down, on a hard surface to jar some dirt loose. (Don’t blow through the filter — you can foul it up that way.) If you drop the filter a few times and it’s still too dirty to see through, you need a new one.
tells you more about air filters, and Chapter 8 has instructions for buying and replacing them.
Because the air filter extracts dirt and dust particles from the air, you should change it at least once a year or every 20,000 miles, whichever comes first — unless yours gets very dirty before then. If you do most of your driving in a dusty or sandy area, you may need to replace your air filter more often.
Check the Accessory Belts
If you’re under the hood of your vehicle and can see without having to remove shields or cowlings, take a look at the serpentine accessory belt that drives the alternator, the power-steering pump, the air conditioning compressor, the water pump in many cases, and other parts of a modern vehicle. (If you drive an older car, look at the separate belts. 2-4 and 2-5 show you what both types of belts look like.
If you can’t access an accessory belt easily to check it yourself, have it checked when you have the vehicle serviced or if the belt gets noisy or any of the equipment it drives begins to malfunction.