Have you ever wondered why essential components in your car seem to be the hardest to find? Many of us know where one or two safety features live, but it seems that in an attempt to create a universal language, car manufacturers have clogged our lives with symbols. When we’ve been outsmarted by the trunk release yet again, we waste time digging around for the manual. Well, no longer. We’ll show you how to find your fog lights, get the right amount of air in your tires, and much more.
Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
A vehicle by any other name still has a unique number assigned to it. But what is this 17-digit cipher, anyway?
The VIN makes your car confess its history like a diary. It tells you where the vehicle was made and when, what company manufactured it, and all about the engine and transmission. Looking into a used car’s VIN before you buy will also expose how many owners it has had or whether it’s a salvage title. You can usually find your VIN on the driver’s side dashboard, although on some cars, it will be on the engine block, inside the driver’s side door, or etched into the windshield as a deterrent against thieves.
Where’s the sticker that tells me how much air my tires need?
Experts recommend that you should check your tire pressure once per week, but if you can’t manage that, just make sure to do it once a month. Cars manufactured since 2007 have mandatory Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, or TPMS, but they only warn you when your pressure has dipped severely.
So, where can you find the elusive sticker that tells you everything you need to know about your tire pressure? Most of the time, you’ll find this sticker on the driver’s side door frame. If you don’t see it there, you’ll have to consult your owner’s manual. Note that you should always fill your tires to the PSI notated on the sticker or in the manual, not what’s written on the tire itself, which is the tire’s max PSI.
A couple more PSI tips:
- Try to only fill your tires when they’re cool, meaning wait at least a few hours after you’ve driven.
- Your tires should be filled differently depending on the time of year/climate you live in. Your sticker should have the regular PSI recommendation as well as a cold weather PSI level. When it’s cold outside you lose 1-2 PSI of tire pressure for every 10°F that the temperature drops. So during the next cold snap, keep that in mind and an eye on your tires.
How to open your trunk from inside your car
We’re pretty sure you know where your fuel door release lever is since you probably have to get gas often enough. Often, your trunk release button will be somewhere in its vicinity. Most cars have key fobs now, where another trunk release button is located, but sometimes life will call for you to open the trunk manually. When that happens, look for the icon that shows a car with its trunk ajar. If it’s not a lever, it could be a dial, but it will most likely be on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
If you ever get stuck inside of your trunk
Here’s what to do if you should find yourself in a real-life thriller. Since 2002, cars have been mandated to install trunk cable releases inside the trunk. They’re usually on the driver’s side, underneath the carpet. Keep this in mind, and if you ever have the misfortune to get stuck in a trunk, you’ll be out of there in no time.
How to pop your hood
The hood release is usually near the fuel door and trunk release either on the driver’s side dash or on the driver’s side floor. It’ll look like a car with the hood open. If you have an older vehicle, your release might be in the grill of your car, so if all else fails, look there.
Where are my hazard lights?
Whether you’ll be double parking for a while or driving way below the speed limit, hazard lights are an essential communication tool. Designated by two superimposed red triangles or white triangles on a red background, you’ll find them in one of two places: The dashboard or the steering column. However, if you have an older car, you might need to search around for a switch to pull, which will often be on the driver’s side.
Where are my high beams?
Unless you’re purposefully trying to blind other drivers (please don’t), you should only use your high beams (also called blinders) when there is no oncoming traffic on your left and there is no one in front of you. Your high beams are connected to your regular headlights, either on a switch near the steering wheel or a dial on the driver’s side dash. Activate them by pulling the light switch toward you, or in some cases, pushing it away, or spinning your light dial until you see the blue headlight symbol illuminate. To deactivate, do the opposite.
Wait, my car has fog lights?
It sure does! And fog lights are about to make your life a lot easier, especially in places where you regularly encounter misty mornings. Fog lights are only designed to be used in foggy conditions, so make sure you use them accordingly—they can blind drivers at other times.
Fog lights cut through the haze—regular headlights can bounce off the particles into your face, making it hard to see. Front fog light symbols are green and show the beams facing left moving through a squiggly line. Rear fog lights are similar, except in amber or yellow, with the rays extending right. Find them on the light switch or your light dial.
We hope we cleared up a few things for you today. What other symbols do you wonder about our have trouble finding?