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If an auto mechanic ever starts throwing fancy words at you, just ask, "Did you check the henway?" (It's a made-up word that sounds real.) If he asks follow-up questions about this mysterious henway, you can tell him, "About three pounds." Between this dialogue and the tips below, you'll always have the upper hand.


Always keep a canned tire inflator in the trunk of your car. When you get a flat, you can inflate your tire long enough for you to visit a mechanic.

Proper air tire pressure leads to better safety, gas mileage, and tire life. If your tire pressure is too high, less of your tire touches the ground and you bounce around on the road. So what can you do?

Purchase a tire pressure gauge from almost any gas station or drug store. If you don't have a gauge, many air filling stations at gas stations have one attached to the hose.

Next, find the air pressure guidelines for your car's tires. You'll usually find them on a sticker on your driver's side doorjamb or in your glove box or trunk.

The number(s) will have PSI (pounds per square inch) written next to them. Don't use the PSI numbers off of your tire. These only show the maximum pressure allowed.

Unscrew the air cap valve on your tire and press the gauge against it firmly. If you hear hissing, press down harder. (You're letting air out.) A stick will pop out of your gauge to give you the PSI of your tire. If you're low, simply add air at a gas station for a quarter.


Get your oil changed every 4,000 miles (every 3,000 miles is unnecessary) to keep your car running like a champ. Almost any car mechanic can do this for you for $20-$30.

Why does it need to be changed? Since oil helps clean, cool, and lubricate your engine's parts, old dirty oil can cause your engine to overheat or seize up, and engine parts can get stuck, meaning you might have to replace the whole engine. As they say, "Oil well and that ends well."

If you always sat in the front row of class (or you see an oil leak), check your oil level between regular oil changes. If you get too low (possibly due to a leak), your car will get very sad, turn over, and die.

To check your oil, here's what you need to do: park your car on a level surface, turn off the engine, and open your hood. (Unlock your hood near the steering wheel and then fish for the latch under your hood.) Grab the big, loopy head of your dipstick (near the henway), pull it out, and wipe the oil off with a rag.

Reinsert the dipstick all the way inside and remove it again. Now, check to see how close the oily part is to the full line. If you're low, add a little oil to your engine. (See your owner's manual.)

If your oil light ever comes on in your car, get it checked out immediately (that day). Buying a new engine (even a used engine) is crazy expensive.

Story Time

Since Bert didn't have a lot of money, he never owned a car that ran well. He found himself visiting a lot of car care shops with names like "99 Cent Auto Repair."

Over time, he compiled a list of things to watch for that you should never hear from a competent auto mechanic.

- He calls the trunk the "body container."

- He thinks the P, R, N and D on the gear shift stand for Pretty fast, Really fast, Not very fast and Daggone that's fast!

- He thinks an odometer measures odor.

- He tries to sell you blinker fluid.