October 14, 2019
How To Take Care Of Your Car
Want your car to be reliable and avoid the hassle of minor car repairs? Thousands of drivers are annoyed every day by the nagging thought of how much life their car has left and when their next car repair might be. Most drivers understand that consistent car maintenance is important and can lengthen the life of the car, but it is difficult to find an accurate guide that outlines what car maintenance includes and how often it should be done. Changing fluids and getting check ups are common car maintenance strategies, but it is demanding to remember the exact mileage or length of time for these strategies, especially in the fast-paced world we live in! Numerous suggestions for the timing of fluid change and check ups can be found online and from mechanics. If you are unfamiliar with the auto mechanic industry, it can be incredibly easy to get confused with the multiple recommendations and forget these simple, but important car maintenance strategies. We have put together this list to help eliminate the confusion and give you the correct recommendations of when your car should be serviced in order to increase the lifespan of your car and make sure you aren’t bothered by completely avoidable car repairs.
Put The Right Stuff In
We are constantly reminded to check our car’s fluids. This seems like a quick and simple job, but without the right car knowledge this can be a daunting task. Here is a quick list of what fluids need to be changed and when they need to be changed! Information on how to check your fluid levels will be provided in the “Cars Are Like People, Get Your Check Ups” section.
Oil: The most common fluid referred to when told to “check fluid levels,” but also one of the most important. Oil lubricates the engine’s many moving parts and absorbs the heat, which enables the engine to work efficiently without overheating. The standard measurement for a typical, conventional oil change is once every 3,000 miles or 3 months, but newer cars can go up to 5,000 miles between oil changes without any repercussions. Additionally, there are three other oil types: full synthetic, synthetic blend, and high mileage. Full synthetic oil is serviced for new and late-model vehicles from European makes such as BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi and can last anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 miles. Synthetic blend is a mix between synthetic and conventional base oils and is generally serviced to vehicles that carry heavy loads such as trucks, vans, and SUVs and lasts normally between 5,000 to 7,5000 miles. Lastly, high mileage oil replaces other oil types when the vehicle’s mileage reaches 75,000 miles and should be replaced every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.
Radiator Fluid: This fluid is the antifreeze coolant of the engine. The radiator helps cool your car’s engine as your engine heats up while it runs. It is recommended that radiator fluid be checked weekly, but this fluid typically doesn’t need to be replaced for 30,000 miles or five years, whichever comes first.
Transmission Fluid: A car’s transmission makes sure that the correct amount of power goes to the wheels of a car at any given speed. Clearly, this is an extremely important part of the vehicle and there are a few different transmission fluid types. The fluid types differ based on the make of the vehicle, so make sure you have the right fluid for the make of car you own. Although there are varying fluid types, it is recommended that transmission fluid be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
Power-Steering Fluid: The power-steering system in a vehicle is driven by the power-steering hydraulic fluid that transmits the power in the power steering. In order for you to continue to properly steer your vehicle, the power-steering fluid should be checked during every vehicle inspection and is typically changed every four years or every 50,000 to 75,000 miles.
Brake Fluid: Brake fluid is responsible for moving several components of your car’s braking system, allowing you to stop when you push the brake pedal. Experts recommend fresh brake fluid every two to three years and between 24,000 to 36,000 miles. These recommendations can vary depending on the braking habits of the driver; such as if they are heavy on their brakes or brake in a responsible manner.
Air Conditioning Coolant: A/C coolant is used in the air conditioning system of the vehicle, which regulates the interior temperature of the vehicle. There is no exact mileage or time this coolant needs to be replaced. The need for new A/C coolant is determined by the vehicle owner when they feel their system cools less than it used to or it has completely stopped cooling.
Washer Fluid: Washer fluid has a simple job! This fluid cleans the vehicle’s windshield with the windshield wiper while the vehicle is being driven. Similar to the air conditioning coolant, there is no exact mileage or time this fluid needs to be changed or replaced. Washer fluid is replaced when no fluid is discharged from the vehicle.
Cars Are Like People, Get Your Check Ups!
We are always told to see a doctor for our yearly check up and this same advice needs to be applied to our cars. Older cars require tune ups every 10,000 to 12,000 miles (or every year), while newer vehicles don’t need major tune ups until they hit 25,000 miles. A car tune-up is preventive maintenance performed on your car to ensure that everything is performing well and to check if typical wear-and-tear parts need to be replaced.
In addition to a tune-up, we should be inspecting our fluid levels and tire health at home. When inspecting your tires at home, you should be checking your tire tread depth and tire pressure. To inspect tire tread depth, use the penny test. The penny test is conducted by inserting a penny into the tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If Lincoln’s head is completely visible, then your tread depth is less than 2/32 inch and your tires need to be replaced. Secondly, tire pressure can be measured by an air pressure gauge, a simple tool that can be found at any multi-purpose store. Remove the cap from the valve stem on the tire, place the air pressure gauge on the stem, press down until there is no hissing of air, and record the reading. An owner’s manual will outline what tire pressure your vehicle’s tire should be set at. Lastly, your vehicle’s tires should be rotated and balanced every six months or 6,000 to 8,000 miles to ensure that tires wear evenly and is important for the balance of the vehicle.
Everyone Enjoys A Clean Car
Ever been in someone’s cluttered or dirty car? It can be an uncomfortable experience for the rider as well as destroying the integrity of the car. A car’s value not only comes from underneath the hood, but the interior of the vehicle as well. Keeping your car clean will increase the value of the car as well as provide a comfortable ride for all passengers. A few tips for maintaining a clean car are:
- Keep surfaces clean with all-purpose cleaner (of course, always read what surfaces it works on)
- Shake out mats and vacuum regularly
- Follow the in-and-out rule: whatever trash is brought into the car, must be brought out of the car
- Clean out cup holders
- Maintain these habits monthly
Car Parts Are Not Invincible
Automobiles are a very impressive piece of machinery, but this does not mean they are perfect. As vehicles are driven for thousands of miles, regular wear and tear occurs. There are a handful of car parts that have a shorter life than the larger components of the vehicle, and are affected by typical wear and tear. The most often replaced car parts are air filters, oil filters, wiper blades, the battery, brake pads, headlights, taillights, and spark plugs. The majority of these parts are replaced during tune-ups and when it is obvious a part isn’t working, such as a headlight or battery. It is difficult to put a mileage or time frame on when these parts should be replaced, but regular tune-ups will check these parts and make sure that you aren’t driving with a damaged or worn-down part, putting your safety and the safety of your passengers at risk.
Be A Safe Driver
Don’t just save your car, save a life! Of all the rules that are outlined here, the number one rule is to be a safe driver. There are millions of car accidents per year in the United States and many result in damages to vehicles and unfortunately many result in injury or death. Avoid both of these severe problems by driving safely. A major driver safety tip is to ignore any distractions. These distractions may include use of phone or any electronic device, excessive conversation, eyes wandering off the road, and reaching for an item in another seat. Secondly, many people check their mirrors, but it is common to forget to check blind spots. Be mindful of blind spots, as mirrors can’t detect this sneaky zone for cars to creep up on you. Lastly, buckle up! This doesn’t keep the car safe, but can most definitely save your life!
Plan For Disasters
Some things in life we can’t control, and disasters are one of those things. Although we can’t control disasters, we can plan for them. These disasters can range from natural disasters to poor road conditions. For natural disasters, such as floods, try and save your vehicle from being drowned by water. Water-logged vehicles are known for having poor interior and engine problems. If faced with the threat of a flood or hurricane, try and park your vehicle inside or on a higher surface in order to avoid water damage.
Additionally, road conditions pose a great threat to geographic areas that aren’t devastated by natural disasters. Poor conditions such as pot holes and uneven roads can be terrible for a car’s suspension. Difficult to avoid, the best practice to eliminate these conditions from affecting your vehicle is to drive the speed limit or slower and to find alternate routes.
Enjoy Your Car!
Simply put, check your fluids, get regular tune-ups, keep your car clean, monitor regular wear-and-tear parts, drive safe, and plan for disasters. Hopefully this guide is effective in setting guidelines for regular car maintenance and you can enjoy your car a little more and for a little longer.