WEll well well.

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Master Driver
Posts: 896
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 10:33 am
Location: Santa Fe NM
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Pizza Delivery Driver
Car you drive:
1990 Honda Civic 4WD Wagon
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:56 am
Ok, well, first off, thanks Greg for opening this sub forum. I'll try to contribute something useful from time to time!

I figure we'll kick this thing off simple, with an answer to the last post in the thread asking for this forum.

So (theoretically) you're the guy/gal who knows nothing except how to put gas in your car. What do you as a delivery driver need to know about your car?

-How to check and set tire pressure, and tire wear.

This honestly should be done weekly if not more often. Tire pressures can change with weather - they go up in heat, and down in the cold. Nitrogen filled tires are less susceptible to temp change, but are still rather uncommon. If you have nitrogen filled tires from the dealer, they're usually marked with a green valve stem cap on each wheel. If so, your car is probably pretty new, still under warranty, and this will be taken care of and checked whenever you visit the dealership. Otherwise, read on.

Go to your local Autozone, O'Riely's, or Pep-Boys, and pick up a decent tire pressure gauge. The stick ones are ok, but dial gauges are more accurate. Keep it in the glovebox.

Every time you fill up with gas, get out and pull the caps off your valve stems. Press the gauge on the stems, and it should read between 32 and 38 PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) on each tire. They should all be close to the same PSI. A pound or two difference between each tire is nothing to worry about. If they are low, head over to the station's air hose and top them off until they read in the range above. If they are high, wiggle the gauge until you hear air coming out, and recheck the pressure after a second or two.

To check tire wear, there is a wear indicator built into your tires. Look in the tread until you see a raised area that crosses the tire from side to side. When this line is at the same level as the tread at any point, it's time for new tires.

-Checking Fluids.

This should be done weekly as well, unless you know your car is burning/leaking fluids. Then it should be checked every fill up or more often.

Engine Oil - Pop open your hood, and look around for the dipsticks. There may be 2 of them (if your car is automatic) - if there is only one, it's highly likely to be the engine oil. Most of the time, it is yellow in color, but that's not always the case. If you can't find it visually, your owner's manual should have a page that shows the location.

If there are two dipsticks, one is going to be auto trans fluid (ATF). It will usually be longer, and the fluid will be reddish in color. It reads the same, but must be checked with the engine running and hot. A cold reading is unreliable with an automatic transmission.

Have a shop rag or paper towel handy. You never read the dipstick on the initial pull. You take it out, clean it, put it back in all the way, and then read it. Usually they have a rather obvious area showing a low/cold and high/hot range. If you oil/ATF is in-between the two, you're good to go.

Other fluids - Power steering should be marked as such on top of the cap. the reservoir is usually around the front of the engine, with the belt(s) & fan(s). The dipstick for this is usually part of the cap. Undo the cap, read the fluid level. Again, it will have high/hot low/cold range. If you're in the range, you're good.

Engine coolant is checked in most cases from the overflow tank. This will be a semi-clear plastic tank with a small tube running between it and the radiator. Again, owner's manuals can come in handy here. It will have hot and cold markings on the outside, and if the fluid is in-between these, you're good. If it is above, don't worry too much. It's most likely just over filled, but if your car is running hot, get it checked out. If it is low, top it off with either pre-mixed coolant or distilled water, and have it checked for leaks.

As an aside, Engine coolant is usually deadly to animals - be sure and keep it away from pets.

Brake fluid is located in the back of the engine bay on the driver's side. It should NEVER be topped off. Your brake fluid level is an indicator of brake wear. When it is low (AKA below the low indicator line), it is pretty much time to replace your brake pads/shoes. When new brakes are installed, the fluid will be forced back to full level. If not, and the system is leaking, you should not be driving the vehicle. For Manual trans vehicles, Clutch fluid for a system with a hydraulic clutch is similar. It'll usually be next to the brake booster/fluid reservoir and should not be topped off either - it indicates clutch wear.

Washer fluid - consult your owner's manual for this one's location - it is different for every car, and some SUVs/Vans have two tanks (Front and rear). Just top it off when needed, no real need to worry about high/low readings. Washer fluid can be picked up just about anywhere. Don't top off with water - it can freeze in winter. Actual washer fluid has anti-freeze properties.

Checking your belts

You can check your accessory/fan belts yourself - just twist them as far as you can so you can see the "bottom" of the belt, the part that makes contact with all the pulleys on the engine. If it is cracked, or so worn as to be almost transparent looking, it is time to replace the belt. This should be done every time you check the fluids, etc.

That's it for now. I'll try to post more weekly at the least. Next week, I'll cover tire rotation and doing your own oil change. Also, if anyone has questions about something specific for their car, I'll try to answer it as best I can in this forum.
Freaks of Nature CC, Albuquerque NM chapter
When I die, bury me 8 feet under, so I can still roll lower than all my friends.
User avatar
Master Driver
Posts: 6999
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:40 pm
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Where do you work?:
Papa John's franchise
User Type:
Pizza Delivery Driver
Car you drive:
2010 Ford Fusion
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:51 pm
Cool! That's exactly what I was looking for!
"If you ain't on the road, you ain't makin' money!" - gregster

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User avatar
Master Driver
Posts: 6999
Joined: Sun Oct 18, 2009 10:40 pm
Location: Chesapeake, VA
Where do you work?:
Papa John's franchise
User Type:
Pizza Delivery Driver
Car you drive:
2010 Ford Fusion
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2012 1:55 pm
Here's a pic of what tread wear indicators look like:

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"If you ain't on the road, you ain't makin' money!" - gregster

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