I’m not necessarily talking about physical danger. State motor vehicle bureaus have made fairly sure that, before we can get a driver’s license, we know how to drive defensively and can handle a vehicle under poor driving conditions. What I’m referring to is the kind of trouble that comes from depending on other people to care for and repair our vehicles. If you’re like most people, you probably tend to drive around until something goes wrong and then incur the expense of replacing worn and burned-out parts — or the entire vehicle! - When low-cost, regular maintenance could have kept your wheels turning for a long time.

Whether you’re trying to cut expenses, are tired of being patronized, or have just fallen in love with your first car, this book tells you how your vehicle works, what it needs in the way of tender loving care, how to reduce its impact on the environment, and how to keep from getting ripped off if you have to entrust repairs to someone else. By handling the simple maintenance and being able to diagnose trouble and perform the less complex repairs yourself, you’ll earn the respect of your family, your mechanic, and your car — and you’ll feel pretty good about it!

Getting to Know Your Vehicle

If you want the basics, this is the part for you. I cover things that everyone who drives should know, like how to decide whether you want to do a job yourself, how to get the hood open, how to use a jack and change a tire, and how to take anything apart and put it back together again. A monthly under the-hood check that can prevent 70 percent of highway breakdowns will transform you from an “I-can’t-do-it-myselfer” into a hands-on mechanic. I also describe the tools that you’ll need to borrow or buy if you plan to do regular maintenance and simple repairs. Finally, a quick and simple run-through of how basic automotive systems work together gives you the confidence to explore further because what was once a mystery is now familiar territory.

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