Hilltop Ford How To's


Hilltop Ford's Tips!
How to Jump Start a Car

Whether you left your lights on or you're just being a good Samaritan, jumping a car is an essential skill that when done with confidence is quick and easy. Just make sure you've always got a pair of jumper cables in your roadside emergency kit.

1. Park both cars nose to nose about a foot and a half apart. For automatics make sure the car is in park, for manual transmissions keep the car in neutral and set the parking brake.

2. With both cars turned off and the key out of each ignition, pop the hoods and get down to business. If either car's battery is corroded or looks suspect, don't attempt to jump the car yourself-instead call a pro, the battery may need replacing.

3. Identify the positive and negative terminals on each battery. Along with a plus-sign, the positive terminal can be identified by red coloring; for the negative side look for a minus-sign and black coloring.

4. Now, Identify the positive and negative ends of your jumper cables-red for positive, black for negative. Make sure the metal ends don't touch one another throughout the process. Note: Different jumper cables have different markings. Our advice? Go for the most simple color-coded option.

5. Start by attaching the red/positive jumper cable to the dead battery's positive terminal.

6. Attach the other end of the red/positive cable to the live battery's positive terminal.

7. Now attach the black/negative end of the cable to the live battery's negative terminal.

8. With the other end of the negative cable, attach it to a metal non-painted part of the car under the hood with the dead battery. Stay away from the battery itself and attach the cable to the engine block-unpainted bolts are a good go-to. Some cars have a jumping post for this purpose-check your owner's manual and be sure to avoid moving parts like belts or fans.

9. Now clear the area.

10. Start the engine of the car with the live battery. Let it run for a few minutes and lightly rev the engine.

11. Now, start the car with the dead battery. If she turns over, let her run for a few minutes. If she doesn't start the first time, give it another minute to two of rest with the good car running. If it still doesn't work, you may need to check your connections or call for a tow.

12. Once the dead car is running, disconnect the cables in the reverse order you put them on (i.e. negative connection on dead car, negative connection on good car's battery then positive cable from good car's battery and finally positive cable from bad car's battery). Always check the owner's manual to see if your car requires a different process.

13. You've just saved your day or someone else's, celebrate by studying up on your owner's manual.



Summer's a prime time for road trips, but logging hundreds of miles also means you're more likely to encounter vehicle trouble. Warning lights can make any driver nervous, but if you know what each light means, you'll be able to handle any problems that arise. 

Oil Pressure Warning Light

Imagine the sound of two pieces of steel grinding together without a lubricant. That's the sound your car could make without enough oil. The oil pressure light doesn't tell you when it's time for an oil change (although some cars can do that), but it will tell you if there are low levels of oil, or if the oil pressure is low. This could be a result of a punctured oil pan, a leak or a number of problems. If your oil pressure warning light turns on, pull over safely, turn off your car immediately and add oil. If you run the engine without oil, it will seize because the metal parts won't be able to move against each other. That kills your engine.

The cost of diagnosing and fixing an oil leak on a 2007 Honda Accord with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine can cost between $396 and $534, according to RepairPal. That's a lot to dish out at once, but it's less than replacing a seized engine, which can cost $5,000 or more.

Check Engine Warning Light

In most cars, the check engine light and the onboard diagnostics light are the same thing: They indicate that there is a problem in the engine or the emissions system. If this light is on you could have a minor problem like a loose gas cap. But you could also be facing more serious issues, like fuel leaking into the exhaust pipe. If this happens, the fuel could damage the catalytic converter, a component that helps clean your exhaust fumes and is expensive to fix. Replacing both catalytic converters in a 2009 Ford F-150 with a 4.6-liter V8 engine could cost up to $4,302, according to RepairPal.

Tire Pressure Warning Light

Under-inflated tires can lose traction, increase a vehicle's stopping distance and can make blowouts more likely. Since 2006, all vehicles in the U.S. are required to have a standard tire pressure monitoring system. A standard warning light has two parts: a low tire pressure warning and a tire pressure failure warning. If a tire pressure light comes on, you can find a gas station where you can check your tire pressure and add air, pull over and replace the tire or drive your car to a maintenance shop. If you have run-flat tires, you're in luck. Most run-flat tires can drive up to 60 miles without damaging your wheels. Some auto reviewers say that run-flat tires ride rougher than traditional tires, but to most of us, peace of mind in case of a flat is more important than how your car will perform on a race track. On the other hand, driving after a tire has completely blown will ruin your rims, adding thousands of dollars to your repair cost.

Engine Temperature Warning Light

Keep a watchful eye on your engine temperature gauge, which tells you how hot the engine is. If your engine is overheating, a small thermometer, a picture of a radiator or the word "temp" might light up. Usually, this temperature gauge notifies the driver that there is a problem with the engine's coolant system. If the temperature light turns on, pull over to the side of the road and wait until the gauge falls back to the halfway mark. Remember, never pour water over a hot engine, and never open the radiator cap until the engine has fully cooled. Rather than cooling the engine down, dousing hot metal with cold water can result in dangerous amounts of steam and can warp or crack the metal. Opening up the radiator while it's still hot can release a boiling radiator fluid that can badly burn your hands or face. If you don't take this light seriously, you could damage your vehicle's internal parts significantly. Hoses can burst, gaskets can blow and if aluminum cylinders expand too much, the engine could seize. Get to a shop immediately, where they can diagnose and fix the problem.

Brake Warning Light

Generally, the brake warning light turns on if pressure in the brake system has changed because of leaking or overheating brake fluid. Since disc brakes are operated by hydraulics, a change in fluid pressure means that they might not function properly. Most cars have disc brakes on at least the front wheels, while older cars generally use drum brakes on all four.

If your brake light goes on while you're driving, take your foot of the gas and switch on your warning flashers so others know there's a problem. Try pumping your brakes to get a bit more fluid in the brake system, which may give your brakes enough capability to work.  Driving on grass or gravel, like what might be found on the shoulder of a highway, can also help you slow down.

Brake fade and failure can occur on a long downhill grade, when the driver has used the brakes too much and caused them to overheat. To prevent brake fade, shift from "Drive" into a lower gear. Allowing your engine to run only in a lower gear will limit its top speed and act like a brake. This technique is called "engine braking," and many truckers and other drivers use it on long downhill grades to preserve their brakes for when they're really needed. If your brakes totally fail, keep your eyes out for a runaway truck ramp. These ramps are located on the side of a downhill road, are built on an incline and are usually made of deep sand or soil. They can damage your car, since the engine can get filled with sand and any large rocks in the mixture can scrape up your car, so only use a runaway truck ramp in extreme cases. Still, they'll slow you right down and keep you safe.

Remember to check your owner's manual if you see a light you don't recognize, since every car is a little different. Hopefully, knowing the warning signs ahead of time will help you prevent further damage to your car, and save a little money in the process.

1. Brake Pads

It seems like common sense: Don't neglect your car's brakes. Still, when it's time to replace your car's brake pads, it's easy to look the other way. For one thing, brake pads tend to wear gradually, so you might not notice changes in your braking performance right away. Secondly, a car with worn brake pads will still stop -- just not as well. So what's the harm in saving some money and holding off?

It turns out the harm in not replacing your brake pads is about $400. When your brake pads are worn, they can cause damage to brake rotors. As the rotors rub against the worn pads, they become warped, which makes it tougher to stop the car (if you feel your car shudder as you brake, you probably have warped rotors). Fixing the rotors requires that they be turned or smoothed out -- something that requires a mechanic and can run over $100 per rotor. If the rotors need to be replaced, you'll end up spending four times what it would have cost to replace the brake pads.

2. Oil Change

An oil change should cost you around $40 at most quick oil change stations. And that same station will probably tell you to come back in three months or 3,000 miles. But do you have to? It depends. That old rule of thumb still applies to some cars, but others can go much longer between oil changes. To find out how long your car can go between changes, read your owner's manual.

After you've found out the oil change interval for your car, follow it. Oil is like your engine's blood. But unlike your blood, all sorts of impurities build up in unless your oil is changed regularly -- not to mention that all engines lose some oil. Too much buildup and not enough oil lead to your engine seizing up. Sure, you can save $40 by putting off an oil change, but you could end up spending $4,000 on a new engine.

3. Air Filter

Changing an air filter is cheap. It's even easy enough for most people to do themselves. Not changing your car's air filter, on the other hand, is expensive. According to the EPA, a dirty air filter can reduce fuel economy by up to 10 percent simply because your engine won't breathe as efficiently. By not changing a dirty air filter, you'll save about $15. But, if your car is supposed to get 25 miles per gallon, and gas is $2.50 a gallon, those savings have evaporated by the time you've driven about 150 miles.

Even worse, if the air filter isn't clean and that means enough air isn't getting to the engine, you could foul your spark plugs and might have to replace them. Depending on your engine, that can cost anywhere from $100 to $300. Now, spending $15 for a new air filter doesn't sound so bad, does it?

4. Transmission Fluid Leak

One of the most common problems associated with your transmission is a fluid leak. You'll likely first notice it when you see drops of red fluid on the pavement where you usually park your car. Ignore it for long enough, and you'll definitely notice it when the leak leads to your transmission shifting roughly, or the gears slipping.

Transmission fluid is what cools and lubricates your transmission. If it's leaking, you need to fix it, and fast. Resealing a transmission is a relatively easy job and should usually only cost a few hundred dollars. Ignoring the leak can lead to the transmission seizing up and a subsequent transmission replacement --which costs several thousand dollars.

5. Burned Out Lights

Here's one car repair on our list that is really easy to ignore. After all, a burned-out tail light won't eventually lead to engine failure or to your transmission falling out. While that's all true, you should still fork over your hard-earned $5 for new tail light bulb if yours is burned out.

Believe it or not, failure to keep your rear lights working can be an expensive proposition. First, if a police officer sees you with broken tail or brake lights, you're going to get a ticket. In some states, the fine for a broken tail light is $150, which makes paying for a new bulb seem like chump change. Second, broken lights increase your risk of being on the receiving end of a rear-end collision. And while the other driver's insurance should cover any damage (assuming they have insurance), you still have to deal with the headache of getting your car fixed.

6. Clogged Fuel Filter

An important part of maintaining your car is keeping impurities out of the engine. While the air filter does part of the job by keeping airborne impurities out, the fuel filter keeps impurities from the fuel out of the engine. Like the air filter, if it gets clogged and you don't fix it, you're looking at some major problems.

On older cars, a fuel filter is relatively easy to replace because it's easy for mechanics or car owners themselves to get to. On newer cars, it's a more complex job. More complexity means more money, which makes this repair tempting to skip -- despite the fact that it can lead to the car stalling or refusing to start altogether.
Don't skip it. At its most expensive, replacing a fuel filter will be a few hundred bucks. Let it go too long, and not only are you looking at dealing with a car that will barely run, you could also have dirt in your fuel injectors -- causing them to need replacing. Replacing just one fuel injector can cost over $500. But if they all need replacing, you're looking at least $1,000 in repair bills.

Contact

Hilltop Ford

3280 Auto Plaza
Directions Richmond, CA 94806

  • Sales: (888) 482-1566
  • Service: (888) 479-2994
  • Parts: (888) 420-8191

Service Hours

  • Monday 7:00AM - 6:00PM
  • Tuesday 7:00AM - 6:00PM
  • Wednesday 7:00AM - 6:00PM
  • Thursday 7:00AM - 6:00PM
  • Friday 7:00AM - 6:00PM
  • Saturday 8:00AM - 5:00PM
  • Sunday Closed
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