The single thing you can do as a car owner to ensure that your car is happy and you save money on future repairs is probably regular preventative maintenance. However, the thing is that not everyone agrees on the definition of preventative maintenance, what needs to be done and when it should be done. What everyone will agree on is that it is a vital part of car maintenance and should not be ignored.
Here is a look at critical preventative maintenance steps you should take for your vehicle.
- Read Your Owner’s Manual: Your owner’s manual is crucial and you should definitely pay attention to it. No matter what vehicle you drive, your manual will have your regular maintenance schedule inside. It will help you avoid car myths like, “Your oil should be changed every 3,000 miles”. Your manual will tell you how often you should change your oil, your filters, any timing or drive belts in your car, and more. You will even find out whether you are using the right gas for your vehicle and also whether you are using the right type of oil.
- Inspect Your Vehicle Yourself: This is basic but you should check your car periodically so that you catch anything that looks weird as soon as possible. Make sure that all your lights are in good working condition. Every month or so, be sure to check the air pressure in your tires. Keeping a tire air pressure gauge in your glove compartment is an astute idea. Checking air pressure is sensible for your tires and you receive better mileage, and also save money on gas if you find that the pressure is off. Keep your ears open for any unusual sounds, both inside and out. Also ensure that your tires have enough tread. If you find anything strange, do not ignore it.
- Learn How to Check Your Fluids: You may never learn how to change your coolant, antifreeze, power steering, or even wiper fluid, but it is crucial that you learn how to check the fluid levels in your vehicle. You can sometimes view the fluid levels easily for certain types of fluid, but most vehicles today have dipsticks or gauges that you can pull out to check what your current fluid levels are. There will be a notch that will indicate the optimal levels for your vehicle. Your owner’s manual does not have much information about checking your antifreeze or transmission fluid, do not be afraid to check under the hood and look for it. If it is low, you need to top it up or get it changed. And remember, the most critical aspect is to never ignore a leak.
- Rotate and Balance Your Tires and Check the Alignment: You can find out how often to do this by reading your manual. It is paramount to make sure that you rotate and balance your tires and check your alignment to ensure that your tires wear evenly and you experience a smooth drive while on the road. You can make sure that your tires last much longer by ensuring that they are rotated and balanced. Your balance is crucial. If you are struggling with your car to keep it straight, remember that it is a bad situation that can be sorted out easily. It can be expensive to get your tires replaced all at once, so make sure that you check and take proper care of them at all times.
- Change Spark Plugs: If your spark plugs are covered in buildup or worn out, there is no way that your engine is working efficiently. For one, this can result in costing you money in fuel and also lead to a breakdown. As daunting as it may sound, checking and changing your spark plugs is not very difficult. If you think that you cannot do it yourself or do not feel like it, read your manual and follow the recommendations given inside it. Get them changed as regularly as the manufacturers say you should – for most standard vehicles and copper spark plugs, this is roughly 30,000 miles. But again, keep in mind that this varies – there are iridium plugs that can last up to 100,000 miles.
- Check Your Battery: When it comes to maintenance, most batteries in vehicles nowadays do not require much. But it is fundamental that you know where it is and how to check it to ensure that there are no leaks and that the contacts do not have mineral and other buildup. If you find buildup, use a battery cleaning brush to clean it off. You can get one at any department or auto parts store. Purchase one to keep in your trunk and also get a cheap jump starter or battery tester.
Keeping your vehicle in its best shape is simply to ensure that it works well while on the road and that you are safe. With preventative maintenance, you can ensure that your vehicle gives you many more years of reliable service. This is because moving parts and aspects of your car will not be being used when they are in slight or total disrepair.