You want to be a responsible car owner and you know that car maintenance is a key part of that, but where do you start? With so many gadgets and gears, it can sometimes feel intimidating to figure out how to stay up to date on your car’s maintenance needs especially when you don’t consider yourself a mechanic. Ultimately, car maintenance doesn’t have to be overwhelming if you follow these seven tips for keeping up on your car.
Set a Schedule
Regular basic auto repairs and upkeep prevent the need for major repairs in the long run. Whether you decide to do routine checks on your own or if you plan to take your car into a mechanic to perform these checks, figure out where your car is at and build a schedule based on those factors. You should aim to perform a routine checkup on your car about every 20,000 miles.
Check Fluid Levels
There are a variety of different car fluid levels that you should pay attention to. Some of those fluids include the coolant, the transmission fluid, the brake fluid, the power steering fluid, and the windshield wiper fluid. Here are some things you should know about each of these fluids:
- Coolant: Coolant keeps your engine cool and should be checked about twice a year—once in summer and once in winter. In terms of replacement, you’re probably good to replace it every two to three years.
- Transmission Fluid: Transmission fluid keeps your gears running smoothly. Be aware of the quality of fluid you are using and be sure to replace it about every 50,000 to 100,000 miles.
- Brake Fluid: Brake fluid is really important. It ensures that your brakes work smoothly. You should check the levels to make sure that it is not running low. Typically, brake fluid should be replaced about every 2 years.
- Power Steering Fluid: Power steering fluid enables your steering wheel to move smoothly and easily. If you don’t keep up on your power steering fluid, you may have difficulty turning your car quickly which could be dangerous. You can check it in tandem with other fluid checks—it doesn’t tend to get too low, so just top it off as needed.
- Windshield Wiper Fluid: Windshield wiper fluid is the fluid that your windshield wipers emit when you clean your windshield. This gets depleted quicker than other fluids so check it often.
No matter where you live, it’s important to rotate your tires. Rotating your tires basically ensures that your tires wear evenly especially because tires are often affected disproportionately in different driving conditions. Even if one or two of your tires has only slightly more or less tread than the others, failure to rotate tires can result in that tire becoming even more worn quicker.
The result? You’ll have to change all of your tires. And if the tires weren’t rotated for long enough, your car may have other adverse effects. As you’re thinking about how to incorporate this into your regular car maintenance, a guideline is to have your tires rotated every other oil change. Rotating your tires will help the tread to wear more evenly.
Be sure to pay attention to your tread depth as well—if you have too little tread, your tires won’t have enough friction to ensure safe driving. You can check tread by placing a penny upside down in the grooves of the tire—if you can see practically all of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to change your tires.
Change Your Oil
Having adequate amounts of oil in your car is essential for it to run smoothly. Oil reduces the friction between engine parts and causes the engine to run more effectively. If you let your oil run low too many times, your car could overheat.
Checking your oil usually requires you to find your oil dipstick, pull it out, and inspect the color of the oil. If the oil is dark or even black, it’s probably time for an oil change. If it is a lighter color, it’s probably ok.
If it looks like it’s time to replace the oil, it’s important to know which kind of oil to use. Turning to your owner’s manual is the surest way to get the oil type right. Typically, your manual will suggest a type of oil or sometimes a brand. Pay particular attention to the grade and ACEA specification.
Check Drive Belts
The drive belt is a single continuous belt that drives multiple functions of your car including the air conditioning, the alternator, and power steering. It plays an important role in your car’s overall function and it can give out anywhere from 60,000 miles to 100,000 miles.
Some last longer, some last shorter than this timespan. But when it comes to replacing drive belts, it’s ultimately most important to turn to your owner’s manual for guidance because there is such a range in its durability.
Replace Engine Air Filter
Your engine air filter plays an important role in the operation of your engine. In order for your car to effectively function, it needs to be able to mix clean air with gasoline. If your engine air filter is dirty, particles and dust can get into the engine causing less than optimal operation.
You should not only pay attention to the owner’s manual’s recommendations, but you should also consider checking it manually yourself. If the filter is visibly dirty, it may be time to change it regardless of the manual’s suggestion.
Replace Windshield Wipers
Replacing windshield wipers may not have long-term implications for your engine’s health, but they do play an important role in safe driving. Safe driving is contingent on the ability to see out of your windshield and you can’t do that properly without functioning windshield wipers.
You will need to replace windshield wipers more frequently than other car components so pay attention to any streaking or squeaking noises when you use them in order to know if it’s replacement time.
Car maintenance doesn’t have to be a hassle if you are able to build a solid schedule and you know what you need to check. This article can get you started with 7 key maintenance components to keep up to date with. But be sure to spend time inspecting your owner’s manual for any other additional factors to be aware of.
Sometimes things happen, no matter how much we try to maintain our cars. But the good news is that if your car breaks down on the road, we can help! Contact A-HESSCO Roadside Assistance & Towing Innovations today for all your roadside assistance needs.