Clueless About Cars: An Easy Guide to Car Maintenance and Repair (The Clueless series)

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9781554073337: Clueless About Cars: An Easy Guide to Car Maintenance and Repair (The Clueless series)

A bewildered car owner often turns a car over to a mechanic hoping for the best. Master mechanic Lisa Christensen says it is just too big a risk to put the keys on the table and tell a local mechanic, "fix it." It's like handing over a blank check.

Clueless About Cars describes in very simple terms each major system of the automobile, what can go wrong and how to prevent breakdowns. Step-by-step do-it-yourself instructions are provided for the most important engine maintenance routines and basic automotive repairs.

The book translates automotive jargon into clear language and explains what car owners can realistically do for themselves, when they should see a mechanic and what they should expect. There is also vital advice on safety, including tires, brakes, suspension, steering, and dealing with breakdowns and emergencies. A separate chapter reveals tricks of the auto repair trade, and there are suggestions for how to buy or sell a car.

A new chapter on hybrid cars, their components and their maintenance brings this new edition into line with contemporary environmental concerns.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Lisa Christensen is a Master Certified licensed mechanic and diagnostic specialist. She writes for consumer publications.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction:
Your Car Will Thank You

Do you hear that little voice whispering "thank you, thank you, thank you" in your ear? That's your car, and it's extremely grateful that you've not only taken the time to find this book, but that you've also bothered to plunk down some of your hard-earned money to buy it. That fact that you have bothered to do this suggests that you're just the sort of person who should own a car -- a caring person, a thoughtful person, a person who takes his or her investment seriously.

Yup, I said "investment." Because whatever else your car may be -- a statement of independence, a symbol of your social status or financial success, a way to get from Point A to Point B without walking -- it also represents an investment of your money. For most of us, cars rank second only to houses in terms of major life expenses. And, unlike houses, cars don't appreciate in value. These days, new cars cost anything from $15,000 to upwards of $300,000, depending on what you're buying. That's a lot of cash.

What does any of this have to do with a book on car maintenance and repair? It's simple, really. If you've recently plunked down $30,000 on a new set of wheels, don't you owe it to yourself to ensure that you get the most mileage -- figuratively and literally -- out of your investment? Cars may not appreciate in value, but they can and do depreciate at different rates. This means that the better you look after your baby, the longer your baby will stick around, which means that you're putting some welcome distance between yourself and the next occasion on which you'll have to part with $30,000. And that can only be good news, right?

So, by purchasing this book, you've made a commitment to yourself and to your car. You deserve a pat on the back!

What's Inside?

In the pages that follow, you'll find a wealth of information on caring for your car. It doesn't matter if you're new to the car game, or if you're a seasoned pro. It doesn't matter if you know the difference between a brake pedal and a brake pad. This book has been written in a way that anyone -- even the most uninformed or "clueless" automotive consumer -- can understand.

In the first few chapters, you'll become acquainted with some of your car's fundamental systems and features. If you've ever wondered what a camshaft is, or felt your eyes glaze over when your mechanic started talking about pistons and valves, you'd better not skip this part. Knowledge is the key to power, and you'll be a lot more powerful as a consumer once you finish this part of the book. You'll also learn the basics of preventive maintenance -- do you have any idea how many fluids and filters your car needs in order to run efficiently? If not, you will! -- and about how to make a preliminary diagnosis when something goes wrong.

When things do go wrong (and believe me, they will) you've got two choices: take your baby to a garage, or attempt to fix it yourself. I'll tell you when it's safe to try something yourself, and when you absolutely need a mechanic on the job. Your relationship with your mechanic is kind of like the relationship you have with your hairdresser: when it's good, it's very, very good, and when it's bad, it's awful. How do you find someone you like and trust? I'll help you figure it out. I'll also help you to communicate effectively with your new best friend. If you can't clearly explain what's wrong with your car, your chances of getting it fixed decrease dramatically. In Chapter 4, Diagnosing Your Car's Symptoms, we'll cover the basics of "mechanic-speak," including the difference between a tic and a toc, a bang and a knock, and a chirp and a creak. Don't laugh... this stuff does actually matter!

If you decide to tackle a minor repair or maintenance task yourself, never fear. Chapter 6, Gettin' Down and Dirty: Lisa's Do-It-Yourself Guide, tells you what you need to know about oil changes, the installation of new wiper blades and even the protocol for a proper car wash. Rounding things off are chapters on dealing with emergencies (including what you should have on hand in case of a breakdown), your car and the environment and buying and selling a vehicle. A Resource section and a comprehensive glossary of car terms are also included.

Your relationship with your car should be a long and happy one. I hope that Clueless About Cars will help make this possible for you.

- Lisa Christensen, 2004

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