One of the most important aspects of car ownership is taking care of the vehicle. That means covering all the basics, like oil changes, tire rotations, and brake inspections. There are a few auto maintenance basics that you should never miss if you want your car to run smoothly. Following these will not only save you money in the long run, but it will also make your vehicle more reliable.
Here are five auto maintenance basics you should never miss.
Check engine oil
Checking engine oil levels should be routine. A messy or dirty oil will damage your car and significantly reduce its life expectancy by increasing harmful friction in a driveshaft system which takes power away from other parts of the vehicle. A clean engine provides better performance and will reduce wear on other parts in your vehicle by reducing resistance which slows it down overall.
Every car manufacturer recommends maintenance at some point and this is usually denoted in the owner’s manual. Keeping an eye on the check engine oil section of your car’s dashboard for any warning may also help. If you haven’t replaced your oil for a long time, it’s worth checking the oil life fluid status to ensure this is still good on your vehicle before taking action. A dirty acid can cost hundreds of dollars to replace and clean any other engine parts adversely affected. The owner’s manual should be your firsts point of reference when it comes to changing the engine oil.
Get an annual check on your timing belt
A common mistake people make is forgetting that they need to check their car’s timing belt. A timing belt is an essential item to check once a year, not just for check engine light purposes but also for the overall safety and longevity of the car. A loose or damaged seal can cause oil leaks that damage critical windows and seals in the motor, making it to fail quickly.
A broken timing belt will leave your car without power while driving, which can cause serious accidents that damage additional parts in your engine. The system tends to oscillate if it has not been appropriately synchronized, which balances out forces on its valves and exhaust ports with those of the engine’s crankshaft. One of these components will be damaged in a short amount of time, causing severe damage to your vehicle. A stuck timing belt tensioner costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars to replace.
Check engine air filter
Before you change the oil, check your car’s air filter. Air filters are often overlooked during maintenance, but they play a massive role in the life of your engine. Air filters trap dirt and particles that build up throughout their lifetime so that suction can not push clean air through them safely anymore.
The filter traps these impurities, which lead to reduced fuel efficiency or even an engine breakdown if left unchecked. A clogged filter can also reduce your fuel consumption, so replacing them as they get old or dirty should be a priority.
Check Tire Pressure
Tire pressure can mean the difference between a smoothly operating car and a flat tire. Severely low or high air tension on your tires will affect how much force is required for braking, acceleration, and fuel efficiency.
Many fluctuations in temperature ultimately lead to wrong pressures at various points of the year — especially in hot summer months. As such, all of your tires must have the proper air pressure. One severely underinflated tire can cause a blowout during cold weather, delaying or even stopping you from driving for an extended period.
Replace Your Wiper Blades
Clean your wiper blades weekly or biweekly and replace them every six months or yearly. Wiper blades are adjusted through a 3-piece screw system, and shifting the pieces independently when cleaning can cause clogged drain holes and ultimately hampers their ability to clean the windshield properly. When this happens, you may experience streaks that contribute to unnecessary scratching on the glass and increase visibility hazards in inclement weather — like during winter storms with high winds and rain. Proper maintenance also includes checking gauges on the wiper fluid reservoir to ensure they are full enough.
Check Tire Tread Depth
Tire wear guidelines can differ across states and even between different models of automobiles. However, the tread depth on your tires should be checked regularly to ensure they are at the proper level. This will prevent you from going over bare metal teeth. If there is any significant difference in how worn out certain areas are compared to others, you may consider having the service department re-tread your tires.
Replace Your Fuel Filter Regularly
The fuel filter is one of those seemingly unimportant components that most people think are disposable or rarely check on their own. However, the importance of a fuel filter cannot be underestimated. An air filter unchecked over a long period can trap things such as tiny debris, rocks, and unwanted objects from fuel that can further clog the cylinder.
If it’s unclear if your car has been designed to have a system specifically for the filter or if you must replace yours regularly, consult owner’s manuals for specifications or a reputed auto body shop before handling any maintenance on the vehicle.
Check Your Battery
Depending on the manufacturer’s specifications, expect to change your battery every six years and inspect it regularly. In addition, if you have chosen not to have one designated mechanically on any of your items, you’ll also want to check water levels in the batteries underneath.
Check Your Coolant Levels
Coolant is a crucial component of your engine that functions to keep your motor running as it should. Although there are other methods of protecting the system with extended life and mileage, frequent task checks on coolant levels can help ensure that you do not have any additional damage when looking at what needs to be serviced. Suppose the radiator level or boiling point has unexpectedly dropped considerably. In that case, the chances are that liquid will continue flowing through until it reaches an obstacle, causing your car to overheat until it burns up.
In addition, if you notice any unusual smell from the engine while it is in use or from underneath the vehicle’s hood, you need to seek professional help immediately.
It can be pretty daunting trying to manage a car maintenance schedule independently, especially if you’re not familiar with the basics. Car maintenance isn’t as simple as getting your oil changed and doing a brake inspection. You should always keep a few things in mind to ensure that your car is in tip-top shape. If you ever struggle to keep your vehicle in top condition, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance! We can help you with everything from car repairs to preventative maintenance.