Things to Regularly Check on Your Car/Routine Car Maintenance
Our cars are our babies. We love them, and we demand a lot of them every day. We want them to look great on the outside, but sometimes we forget about what’s going on under the hood. To keep your car running like new for years to come, you need to do simple regular maintenance on the old gal. Here are 7 things you can do to ensure you car runs smoothly for years to come.
- Oil: It’s basic, but so important. It’s typically recommended that you have the oil changed every 3,000 miles or every 3 months—whichever come first. Some makes and models can go a little longer, but it’s better to be on the safe side and stick to the rule of thumb. The engine in your car needs this vital fluid to grease the gears and keep everything running smoothly. If not, the intricate parts of the engine can start to grind and stick, destroying the insides of your vehicle. It’s a cheap and easy thing to do a few times a year to keep you safe while on the road.
- Tire pressure: This one can get overlooked unless you notice a flat tire, but tire pressure can make a big difference in your gas mileage and response time. As the temperature changes, the air in the tire can fluctuate. Cold weather will make tire pressure go down, and warm weather will increase the tire pressure. To make sure you are at the right level, you can test your tires at home with a simple pressure gauge that you can find at any automotive store. Inside the driver’s door, you’ll see a chart that will tell you what DPI the tires should be at. Unscrew the cap on the tire, and press firmly on the gauge to force air out. The number on the gauge should be the same as that on the chart. If not, then release air, or fill it until the numbers match.
- Tire rotation: Driving takes a toll on your tires. From the location of your tire, the tread may start to deteriorate in certain spots. Rotating the tires extends the life of your tires by using different spots of tread on the tire. You should do this every 5,000 miles or about twice a year.
- Coolant: You typically don’t think about coolant until it’s too late, and the engine starts to run hot. You’ll notice a little light on the dash that looks like a thermometer in water. When you lift the hood on your vehicle, you should see a clear container with a lid with the same symbol on it. There’s a fill line on the edge. If the fluid inside isn’t meeting that marker, top it off to keep your car from overheating. WARNING: Do NOT open this lid if you have been recently driving. The hot liquid can splash back and burn you. Let the car sit for a while after driving to let the fluid cool down.
- Transmission fluid: Transmission fluid is another fluid that needs maintenance. Luckily, this one doesn’t need to be replaced often. It’s recommended that you have this flushed once every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. If you notice your car jumping between gears, then you may want to see about getting it looked at sooner. It’s better to get the transmission fluid replaced than to wait and then have to replace the entire transmission.
- Air filters: The combustion that makes your car run has a few essential parts: gas, a spark, and oxygen. The air filters prevent dirt and debris from entering your car’s engine. When you get your oil changed, you can have them look at the air filters to see if they need replacing. They can typically go a year or so before they need to be replaced. It’s another cheap and easy way to prevent future problems with your car.
- Brakes: It goes without saying that these are incredibly vital. If you start to notice a slight squeak when you break, that means your brake pads are at the end of their life and need replacing ASAP. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if it’s your car making that noise when you have traffic all around you. To be sure, roll down your windows when you are in a parking lot and apply the brakes to see if the sound is present when you stop. Brake pads are worth the money to replace. The safety of you and your family is far more important than a few bucks!
While these little maintenance items may not be glamorous, they are vital for keeping your car in perfect working order. When your car is finely tuned, you are safer on the road—and, not to mention, it can save you a bunch of money in making huge repairs down the road.