There are people, who would rather wait for an appointment at the workshop, instead of changing their tyres themselves. (this refers to Germany, where winter-tyres are required by law when the outside conditions warrant it) They have their own garage with sufficient space, but prefer to store their summer/winter tyres in a workshop. Now, we don't wish to spoil the workshop's trade, we do however, consider this to be an erroneous development.
Now, you may argue, that the car manufacturers no longer supply a jack any more and that buying one is not worthwhile. Should you order winter-tyres with the car, then you do get one and, you still get the the discount on the the new car that you've hopefully negotiated.
We don't advocate buying expensive additional equipment. Wheel-bolts can be tightened to much, not however, if the on-board tools are used. One final hard pull on the bolts and all is well. Tender female hands may perhaps need an extension pipe.
Just imagine, you can replace a light-bulb yourself. What a triumph, and what a time saver. In the meantime, all European cars must be thus constructed, that also the layman can, using the supplied tools, change a damaged light bulb. You may notice, that up to now, we've spent no extra money, in fact we've even save some.
There are some people who, before they undertake anything new, first of all, make a shopping list. No, we neither advocate a reserve fuel-cannister, nor do we suggest that you carry an extra supply of oil in the boot. Whoever gets stuck without fuel nowadays in Europe, definitely has a deficit as far as IQ is concerned, and oil doesn't simply dissapear out of the engine.
It's not necessary to know your engine inside out, but a certain amount of knowledge about it's workings is not a bad idea. How many kilometers can you drive before the oil-level has sunk to half? Is it wise to change the oil somewhat earlier? Knowing this, you can react any sudden changes in the behaviour in the engine.
The fact that you should also know the correct tyre-pressure to be used, and the checking intervals, is an element of active safety. In addition, the fuel consumption can be an almost universal indication of possible defects. You can work out the consumption in your head or by using a cheap calculator, but please, not while you're driving.
You have a fuel gauge? Great, now you can compare it with your own calulations. The understanding of the control- and warning lights needs a little more effort. E.g., ABS is important, but we don't believe that it's a reason to have your car towed to a workshop. Also in modern systems, the problem is not likely to be a breakdown of the hydraulic braking system.
The same is valid for the airbag control lamp. However, the coolant control lamp is a different story, in this case, one should be careful, if you wish to drive the car to the next workshop, you must plan on making a lot of stops on the way, and you must keep a good eye on the temperature gauge. By the way, if the oil-pressure control lamp lights up, starting the engine is an invitation to disaster.
Actually, you don't really need to read up on this here. There is a valuable book, with up to more than 300 pages, which you are given, free of charge, when you pick up the car. It belongs inside the car and moreover, it should also be read completely, at least once. As it happens, unfortunately, the handbook is more likely to be read by those who have a technical interest than by those who have no idea at all.
A lot of functions are described in the handbook, making an intensive search on the internet unnecessary. After reading it, you'll feel more confident in your car. Be adventurous, open the bonnet and localise the oil dip-stick (if there is still one), and find out where the filler cap for the windscreen washer fluid is etc.
By the way, the book also tells you how you can save fuel, and whether premium grade fuel is absolutely necessary, quite significant if you want to save money. The running-in of a new car ( also after certain repairs) is still a factor to be considered, the instructions of how it should be done are also found in the book. Some handbooks explain the correct treatment of the clutch, and what must be observed when towing a trailer.
We would like to remind you, that up to now, all this hasn't cost you anything extra, however, we would still like to go one step further. The exterior of a car suffers sometimes, perhaps the paintwork is scratched. Instead of e.g., before selling the car, you visit the spray-painters, why not try to polish out any shallow scratches yourself?
We are not suggesting that you take an apprenticeship in motor-mechatronics, indeed we do suggest that you become a little better aquainted with your wheels. A visual check-up sometimes produces important results. Think only about the tyres, which may have been damaged the last time you mounted a sidewalk.
You should not attempt to iron out any problems with the electronics yourself. Also the infamous replacing of old parts with new ones, or even used parts with other used parts, is more than likely to make matters worse. In this case, if you don't know what you're doing, don't do it. However, a set of spanners and a small roll of wire or tape in the boot can sometimes work wonders. 04/11