The Best Car Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Vehicle Running Smoothly
There’s a lot more to owning a car than simply filling it up with gas and driving it to your destination. You have to keep up with regular maintenance if you want it to last for years.
You don’t need to be a mechanic or even marginally mechanically inclined to keep your vehicle up to date on its maintenance. Here are six simple steps that will ensure it runs smoothly for years to come:
1. Change Your Oil
If you want your car to keep running smoothly and retain its resale value, change the oil often. It’s a simple task that keeps the pistons and valves under the hood properly lubricated, protecting them from overheating and friction damage.
Changing the oil is also an opportunity to ensure you’re using the correct grade and weight of engine oil for your vehicle. Your owner’s manual should provide specifics.
Don’t forget to check the brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant and windshield washer fluid as well. These are usually easy to inspect by removing the appropriate cover and looking at the level through a dipstick that should reach a designated fill line.
2. Check Your Tire Pressure
It’s an easy thing to forget about, but checking your tire pressure is important. If your tires are over or under inflated, they can damage your vehicle’s handling and fuel efficiency. You can find your tires’ recommended air pressure on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb or in your car’s owner manual.
If the gauge reading is lower than the recommended pressure, use an air compressor to add air until it reaches the recommendation. Remember, most modern vehicles are equipped with TPMS systems that will alert you of low tire pressure levels. However, these warnings won’t usually activate until one or more of your tires are 25% below the recommended pressure. This is enough to cause a blowout or significantly decrease your vehicle’s fuel economy and handling.
3. Check Your Brakes
If you notice that your brakes are starting to wear down or aren’t working properly, it’s important to get them checked out as soon as possible. Faulty brakes are a huge safety hazard, not just for you but also for any passengers in your vehicle and pedestrians on the road.
A squealing sound while braking is one of the first signs that your brake pads are starting to wear down and need to be replaced. It’s an easy fix and will save you money in the long run by preventing more serious problems down the road.
If your brakes aren’t functioning correctly, it could lead to expensive damage to other components of the car. For example, if your brake pads are worn down, they may start to clamp on to the rotors instead of the smooth surface, which can cause them to heat up and warp.
4. Check Your Battery
In the midst of busy lives, it can be easy to let routine car maintenance fall by the wayside. But keeping up with this work can extend your vehicle’s lifespan and boost its resale value.
Start with the battery, which can lose its charge over time. Using a simple battery tester (which you can find in your owner’s manual, or online) can help you know when it’s time to replace it.
Engine belts and hoses need to be inspected frequently, as well. Worn down belts can cause damage to other important engine components. Spark plug wires also need to be checked, as heat and vibration can break them down over time. These are all relatively straightforward to check and replace. Lastly, don’t forget to test your headlights and taillights regularly.
5. Check Your Headlights
Your car’s lights provide nighttime visibility, signal and alert other drivers and give you interior light. Using your headlights can also help you avoid getting pulled over and ticketed by law enforcement.
It is important to check your dashboard indicator lights regularly, especially if you notice a screeching sound coming from your engine or if your Check Engine, battery warning, or airbag light are on. These indicators tell you there is something wrong with your vehicle that needs to be addressed right away.
Another important tip is to check your headlights frequently, as they may become dim over time. Your headlights can also become foggy. We offer a service at Weber Automotive that cleans the inside of your headlight lens and restores about 90% of the visibility.