Preventative Maintenance is by far the most important aspect to owning a vehicle. Regular vehicle maintenance not only protects your car from engine trouble, but also increases it’s efficiency, saving you more money in the long run.
An added bonus to keeping your vehicle properly maintained, is being able to ask top dollar should you be looking to sell. it’s also important to remember that keeping your car maintained, while not always cheap, can actually help you avoid more expensive repair costs later down the road.
To ensure proper vehicle preventative maintenance, the following should be inspected frequently.
Oil and Coolant Levels
It’s recommended that you check your oil and coolant levels every month. Checking and topping off these fluids is relatively inexpensive, but is often the most important. Not only do you want to keep these fluid levels full, when they aren’t full, it’s often a sign of a developing problem, which caught early enough, could save you on an expensive fix later.
Oil and Filter
Oil keeps your vehicle lubricated in extreme heat and under high friction. It’s the filters job to keep the oil clear of abrasive materials. Changing both the oil and the filter is vital to vehicle health, and has long term benefits to engine performance.
You may not know, but your air filter makes a huge difference on the efficiency of your vehicle. Having a clean air filter helps your car breath easier, causing less vacuum friction, which means better efficiency. Air filters are inexpensive replacements that will save you money in fuel in the long run.
Tire Pressure and Tread Depth
To keep your car rolling efficiency, and safely, your tire pressure and tread depth should be checked. Proper tire pressure will ensure you get a full lifetime from your tires, and keeps your safe. Properly inflated tires handle better are also important for safety. Checking your tread depth will help you determine if it’s time to replace you tires, as bald tires are extremely dangerous.
Every time your drive, you put wear and tear on your tires. Depending on your vehicles alignment, a single tire could receive more wear than others. Rotating your tires will ensure that all tires wear evenly. Proper tire rotation will also help you get the full usage out of every tire, instead of having to replace a single tire, or a full set because one tire has worn out.
Headlights, Turn Signals, Brake and Parking Lights
Keeping all your vehicles lights and indicators working is important for proper safety and smooth travel. All lights should be checked during each scheduled maintenance and replaced if any problems are found. Lights are inexpensive and can prevent failure to maintain vehicle code violations and penalties.
Just like the oil in your engine, transmission fluid is the lubricant that keeps all moving parts inside your transmission functioning properly and under the least amount of stress possible. No matter if you drive an automotive or manual, it is essential to maintain proper fluid levels and cleanliness and could prevent high cost repairs.
Transfer Case Fluid
In all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicles, a transfer case takes power from the transmission, and shifts it to the axles. Checking the transfer case fluids and maintaining their level is important to the life and efficiency of your transfer case. It’s also important to check the oil for shavings or fragments. While changing or checking you fluid, it should also be filled to level and checked for leaks.
Shocks, Springs, Struts and Bushings
As your vehicle travels over the road, it experiences encounters different and somtimes rough surfaces. Your shocks, springs, struts, and bushings all work together to absorb impacts and ensure safe rebound of vehicle components. Failure or fatigue of these components could result in loss of vehicle control or decreased smoothness.
The radiator in your vehicle relies on coolant to properly evacuate heat. When the radiator cant does this efficiently, it puts strain on your water pump, and could lead to overheating. Having your radiator flushed will remove contaminants and builds ups from inside. Fluid levels should also be checked and filled when needed.
Spark plugs create the spark needed to ignite the mixed air and fuel within your engine. Weak or delayed spark can cause performance issues and power loss. Having properly working spark plugs ensures proper fuel burn, and provides to best engine performance.
Serpentine and timing Belts
Although it might not seem like much, the serpentine belt is the power source for your power steering, air conditioning, water pump and the alternator. The timing belt is even more important, being responsible for the alignment of all vital parts within your engine. Timing belt failure means your car won’t run, and on some vehicles, failure during operation could result in internal damages that are expensive to repair.
Front and/or Rear Differential
The differentials are responsible for splitting power (torque) from your engine to individual wheels. All-wheel drive, and 4-wheel drive vehicles all have two differentials, one for the front, and one for the back. Front and Rear wheel drive vehicles each have one, respectively. Fluids should be checked during each scheduled maintenance and inspected for metal shavings or fragments.
Windshield wipers should be replaced every year or any time the effectiveness is compromised. Visual clarity is an important factor in making safe decisions. Wiper blades should be inspected during every scheduled maintenance, and occasionally by you personally every month. Winter wiper blades are recommended for winter seasons, as they contain special cold weather material for complete effectiveness. You should pull your wipes away from the window any time snow or ice is possible.
The battery is one of the most important components to your vehicles ability to run. It’s main purpose is the provide the initial power requirements to rotate you engine and provide spark. All electrical components rely on your battery until the vehicle has been started and your alternator has taken over responsibility. If you don’t drive long distances in your vehicle, it’s recommended that you either run your vehicle for slightly longer once a week to ensure a full charge.
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