Even if you would rather have nothing to do with repairing car problems yourself, you should at least have some knowledge of what’s beneath the hood and how it works. If nothing else, it helps you to understand the repairs a mechanic is making, as well as to not get ripped off in charges. Let us now help you understand some basic components that make your car run and how they work.

First, well start with components that are essential to your car’s power and how to look for trouble spots. We begin with the battery. When examining your battery for potential issues, look at the cable ends that connect the battery to your car. They should be screwed on tight and be free of any corrosion. Keep tabs on your battery’s age and if it is more than 5 years old, replace it.

The combustion chamber is located inside the engine block. The engine block (sometimes called a cylinder block) is the foundation of your engine. This is the area where fuel, air, pressure, and electricity come together to create the small explosion that moves the car’s pistons up and down, thus creating the power to move the vehicle. If you start noticing abrupt, sometimes “jerking” power fluctuations when you drive or when accelerating, this may be the source or one of the sources of your problem.

Another important area of what makes your car operate efficiently are its belts and hoses that interloop throughout and around the engine block. Inspect your serpentine belt (V-belt). This belt is found near the front of your engine. Press down on it and make sure it depresses no more than ½ an inch. The rubber belt should be visually free of cracks. If you notice noises coming from the engine on start-up, or even while running, the belt may be worn or stretched. Be sure to replace your serpentine belt every 50,000 miles because if it fails, you will be stranded. If your belt does fail on the road, be sure to save whatever pieces you can find, as it may help a mechanic determine your correct belt size. As you do for the belts, carefully inspect all hoses for cracks and make sure ends are dry and not leaking.

Your engine hoses and fluid lines carry the necessary “life blood” to your engine. As your veins carry fresh blood needed for your heart to pump. Check your car’s owner’s manual and locate where your car’s different fluid receptacles are located. Make sure all levels are filled to the manufacturer’s suggested amount. Also, if possible, look to see that no contaminants are mixed in the fluid bays.  Note that brake fluid should be a clear-gold, power-steering red, coolant red or green (in most cases) and transmission fluid red.  Learn to identify these fluids in case you start seeing leaks beneath your car.

One of the best ways to avoid auto repair rip-offs is for you to be prepared. You may not be a “Gear-Head”, but that’s fine. Having some working knowledge on the principles of how your vehicle works and how to identify common car problems is a good beginning. It’s also important to know how to choose a good mechanic, the kinds of questions to ask, and your consumer rights.


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Pete Solis Collision Center is El Paso’s Auto Body Shop! With over 47 years of experience behind us, we are the top choice for bodywork, paint, and more. We are the home to ICAR certified professional body shop technicians, as well as quality Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes. Pete Solis Collision Center is located at 1434 Lomaland Dr. in El Paso, Texas. Give us a call today at (915) 599-8666. We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.