Routine Vehicle Maintenance 101
A regular vehicle maintenance routine can help you catch problems early on instead of paying more money to fix them when they’ve become a significant issue. Plus, regular maintenance can keep your vehicle in top shape, extend its life, and give you the confidence to perform basic updates and repairs yourself.
The more you know about your car and how everything works together, the better. Grab a calendar and write down these crucial maintenance tasks to take on:
Oil and Fluids
Checking your oil and other fluids should become a part of a monthly car care routine. It only takes a few minutes, but those few minutes can translate into a lasting life for your vehicle.
Most vehicles now come with a monitor that tells you how much oil life you have left. It’s still a good idea to follow the recommendations in your owner’s manual. Most manufacturers recommend getting your oil changed every 3 months or 3,000 miles, but some can go closer to 6 months or 7,500 miles or longer.
Every month, check your oil level and levels of other fluids. Low levels after topping off the previous month can indicate a leak. You should also check your oil and air filters at the same time, or ask your mechanic to check and replace them with your oil change.
The average tire needs a replacement around the three or four-year mark, depending on how often you drive. It’s more reliable to measure your tire wear by miles, as most tires have a mileage warranty ranging between 30,000 to 50,000. If you only drive a few miles each day, you might be able to squeeze closer to five years out of your tires.
Still, it’s necessary to check them at least once a month. Look for any abnormal wear and tear, like uneven wear, that could signal an alignment or another issue. Check your tire pressure, too, to make sure they’re properly inflated. You can usually find the recommended PSI in your owner’s manual.
Although your mechanic should examine just about everything relating to your engine when you bring your car in for routine inspections, it’s not a bad idea to check them while you check your fluids.
Specifically, you’ll want to look at the battery, engine belts, and hoses. On the battery, look for signs of corrosion. You’ll find a white powdery substance near its connections, which you can wipe off with a clean, damp cloth.
Glance over the hoses and belts. Are there any cracks or signs of wear in the belts? Do any hoses have bulges or cracks? If so, get your vehicle into a mechanic as soon as possible.
Windshield wipers are usually most efficient if they’re replaced every six months, although infrequent use may allow them to last up to a year. Check your wipers before every drive, though, to ensure their safety.
If your wipers don’t make flush contact with your windshield, make squeaking or clicking noises, smear water on the windshield, or have damaged rubber, it’s time for a replacement.
What to Check After 30,000 Miles
There are several other maintenance tasks you’ll need to stay on top of once your vehicle reaches its 30,000-mile mark and every 30,000 miles thereafter. Consider taking your car to a trusted mechanic for inspection at 30,000, 60,000, and 90,000 miles.
First up is your fuel filter, which you may need to replace at 30,000 miles to prevent clogs that can ruin the efficiency of your engine. Your mechanic will also inspect your fuel filter, tires, fluids, brake pads, hoses, and other components that may need a tune-up or replacement.
At 60,000 and 90,000 miles, your mechanic will re-check these components and any others that tend to have a longer lifespan, like your brake rotors and spark plugs. And, don’t forget to continue bringing your high-mileage vehicle to your mechanic on a regular schedule.
Your vehicle is one of your most important purchases. Taking excellent care of it now will extend its life and make it more reliable for you in the future.
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