Drivers, especially the ones who have experienced a car breakdown, know why car maintenance is important. It may sound like there are a gazillion things you should remember about maintaining your car, the truth is, you could just go to a trusted mechanic and have them inspect your car and your good to go.
5 Most Important Vehicle Checks
Dentists are helpful, but you also need to regularly brush your teeth to keep it clean and in good working order. Similarly, in between visits to the mechanic, you should be aware of the important vehicle checks you can make.
Oil, Antifreeze/Coolant, and Other Fluids
You should know by now that the oil functions as the blood of your car’s engine. Oil ensures the smooth working and rotation of all the moving parts of your engine. As you drive across hundreds and thousands of miles, exhaust gasses from the cylinders, tiny pieces of metal will mix in with the oil. If that happens, the oil’s effectiveness will be reduced significantly.
Also, since the engine heats up every time you drive, the viscosity or thickness of the oil will be reduced. And without the right thickness, or if the oil gets significantly thinned, if you don’t change it when it’s due, the engine parts will wear out faster, and will lead to your engine’s breakdown sooner than you would expect.
Oil can be changed within 5,000 to 10,000 miles depending on the kind of oil you used on your car, and on the recommendation of the manufacturer. Consult your owner’s manual to be sure. Newer cars also come with electronic monitoring now, so you will need to rely on your car’s dashboard system if that’s the case.
In addition to your oil, do check your Antifreeze/Coolant to make sure it has the right amount. If it goes below the recommended amount, your engine may overheat and you will have bigger problems on your hand. Remember, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
You should also check other fluids: brake and clutch (for manual transmission cars), power steering, and transmission. If you let these fluids go below the recommended levels, your car will deteriorate much faster.
Check under your car for any leak. Those are potentially dangerous if left unchecked. They may also lead to rusting and other problems under the hood.
Whether you drive mainly in the highway or in hills and country roads, your brakes can spell the difference between safety and a life-threatening accident. It’s just one of the those things that are easy to take for granted. You step on the brakes and you slow down, or grind to a halt.
Take it for granted at your own risk. You don’t want to be in that position where you step on the brakes and your car keeps going.
Keep in mind that the more you brake, the faster the wear of your brake pads. So you better check them when you start hearing some metallic screeching noises when you step on the brakes. Even without that grating sound, it’s always a great idea to check them regularly. You can go to places that offer free brake checks for your car, or when you have your oil changed, you can ask them to take a look at the brake pads, too. Not all cars have them. But some newer cars come with a built-in electronic indicator that will light up when your pads are all worn out.
You don’t need to rely on guesswork when checking the status of your tires. Every tire actually has wear indicators. Check in between the treads. You should be able to see and feel ridges that are about 1/16th of an inch. Your tires should not go deeper than this because it would be unsafe to drive. Thin tires are prone to punctures and they would also be prone to overheating.
Make sure to check your tires every month. It’s not very difficult and it only takes a minute or two. just run your fingers over the tread on the inner and outer edges. If you feel anything out of the ordinary, go to your tire shop and ask them to check more thoroughly for you.
Air plays a very important role in your car engine. As the engine burns fuel, it needs air. Don’t let the air filter get clogged with dust and dirt. That would lead to lower mileage for your car. Not only that, the way your car runs would become sluggish and rough.
You will need to change your air filter between 5,000 to 7,000 miles driven. If you drive through lots of dust, mud, and in places with really bad pollution, you may need to change it more frequently. Fumes from your own engine will also affect the longevity of your air filter.
Check Engine Light
You should really pay attention to your dashboard. If you notice any indicator light that lights up, you should check your manual to learn what that is all about. Some of those are more serious than others. It wouldn’t hurt to learn about basic maintenance that will address those matters.
Maintaining your car regularly will help you make it last for a long time. Don’t fall into the trap of taking your car for granted. The right time to keep your car working is when the problems have not yet appeared.