Updated: Apr 8, 2019
Prevention is the best medicine
The old saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." may not have been meant for car care, but it does hold true for it as well. Preventative maintenance helps extend the life of your car and avoid costly repairs by following the recommended maintenance schedule for your car. Continue reading to learn the routine maintenance your car needs to undergo on a regular basis.
Some of these services are able to be performed yourself at home, while others may need to be completed by a technician. Taking your car to a technician may charge a small fee, but not performing maintenance will eventually cost you more.
Read Your Owner's Manual
This is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your car. The owner's manual is full of information, including the recommended service schedule for the car you drive. With this knowledge, you will be a more informed car owner who is ready to stay on top of the routine maintenance of their vehicle. If you no longer have the owner's manual, most are able to be found online, or you can call your automotive technician who can provide the maintenance schedule.
While most batteries now do not require much maintenance, it is still good to know where it is and make sure it is not leaking and clear of minerals or other buildup on the contacts. If there is buildup, you can clean it off with a battery cleaning brush. You can also purchase a battery tester or a jump starter so you will not have to call someone to give you a jump if the battery does die.
You count on your brakes to work every time you need them. Do not ignore the signs of needing new brake pads - the consequences could be costly. Keep an eye on your brakes by monitoring the wear. The metal tab will come closer and closer to the brake rotor as the pad wears down. If you car starts to make a screeching sound, that indicates it is time to replace the pads.
Cabin Air Filter
The cabin air filter keeps the air inside your car fresh. To avoid breathing in foul-smelling air, you will need to change your filter. If you do not change the cabin air filter, the filter will become clogged with dirt and debris and the HVAC system in your car will be compromised by the inefficiency of the filter.
Engine Air Filter
The engine air filter keeps your engine from being clogged with dirt, dust, and debris. If the engine air filter is dirty, it can decrease your fuel mileage and cause the engine to run rough.
The fluids are a main component of your car and can sometimes run out quickly. You should be able to check your antifreeze, power steering, coolant, and your wiper fluid levels, even if you take the car to a technician to change the fluid. If you are running low, add more if possible or get it changed. Most importantly, do not ignore a leak.
Lights and Wipers
When you are driving the utmost importance is having a clear view and being seen by other drivers. Check your headlights, taillights and brake lights periodically to ensure they are working. If any are burned out, replace them immediately.
This also applies to windshield wipers. You should inspect your wiper blades on a regular basis for tears, splits, or signs of wear. If you have damaged wipers, they will not deliver a clear wipe, which can obstruct your view.
Oil keeps the parts of your engine lubricated. Over time, the oil breaks down and is not as effective. Changing the oil regularly ensures your car's engine parts continue to work smoothly. Whether you do it yourself, or have a technician do it, changing the oil and oil filter is important.
Spark plugs are a key component in your engine's combustion process. To keep your car in proper working order, you need to keep an eye on signs that your spark plugs are not performing as they should. If they are worn out or covered in buildup, your engine is not working efficiently. You will need to take the car to a technician if you notice a decrease in fuel mileage, or engine performance like poor acceleration and trouble starting.They will be able to assess if it is time for new spark plugs.
Timing and Serpentine Belts
Some cars will have two drive belts, but most modern cars have one. The belt is a reinforced, ribbed rubber belt that delivers power to your alternator, air conditioning, power steering, and other components in your vehicle. You will need to inspect the belts for wear, and when they start to show wear, you will need to get them replaced. If the belts fail, they can cause damage to the other accessories and make the repair bill even more expensive.
Tires are the only contact between your car and the road. Making sure your tires are in peak condition is the key to your safety on the road. You will need to watch the wear on your tires, and when the tread gets to the wear indicator between the treads, it is time for new tires.
You also need to get your tires rotated and balanced, and have your aligned checked. It is important to do these to make sure your tires wear evenly and your car drives smoothly. By having these done, you are helping your tires last much longer.
Lastly, this one is something only you can watch out for and prevent. They way you drive can reflect on your car. If you drive rashly, then your car can show the wear faster and can damage your car permanently. If you have a habit of taking off too quickly and applying the brakes suddenly, this can cause damage to your car as well. If you drive the speed limit and avoid sudden stops, you are increasing the life of your car, and possibly the safety of others around you.
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