One of the most important things that you can do for your car is to have regular maintenance done on it. This will keep your vehicle happy and it’s also going to help you with saving money on any future repairs. The thing is that a lot of people disagree on what exactly is preventative maintenance, what should be done and when it should be done. We’ll look at this and then we’ll give you some tips that you can apply to any type of vehicle.
One thing that everyone can agree on is that you shouldn’t ignore doing preventative maintenance. This is things such as changing the oil in your car, checking the tire pressure in your tires, and making sure your vehicle has scheduled work and inspections done. This is like regularly going to your doctor. This will help with keeping your vehicle healthy and make sure that you’re catching small things before they become big problems.
Read the Owner’s Manual
The first thing you want to do is make sure you’re paying attention to what is in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. No matter what vehicle you’re driving, the vehicle’s schedule of regular maintenance will be found in it. You shouldn’t follow myths such as it’s important to have your oil changed after 3,000 miles. The only time you should do that is if it’s in the owner’s manual. You’re going to discover the manufacturer’s suggested guidelines about oil changes, since it’s going to widely vary based on the vehicle that you have. It’s also going to tell you when your filters, timing or drive belts and other things should be checked/changed. You’re even going to discover if you’re putting the correct type of gas in the vehicle or if you’re using the correct type of oil.
Think of your vehicle like a new appliance for your home, but even more so. When you buy a new refrigerator or washing machine, chances are that you read its owner’s manual before you use it. Your car shouldn’t be any different. Most of the people who love cars know that this is important, but people who are new drivers or who are young may not know this. If you use the wrong type of oil, or you’re using low octane gas in a car that needs higher octane, your warranty could be voided and you might cause damage that is going to cost a lot of money to fix.
Preventative Maintenance Necessary for Every Vehicle
Even if you are taking your car in for every inspection, there are things that you can do on your own to help your car last longer. Below are some tips that you can use for helping to extend your car’s life.
Give Your Vehicle a Once-over
This is something basic, but when you’re doing this every once in a while, you’re going to catch things that could look odd. Be sure your lights are all working (this can also help you avoid getting a ticket). Be sure that your tire’s air pressure is correct once per month. Buying a pressure gauge is a good idea, keep it in your glove compartment. This is going to help your tires last longer, give you more miles per gallon and will help you with saving money when it comes to gas. Make sure you’re listening for any weird sounds, outside and inside. Also make sure there is enough tread on your tires. Look for the wear on your tires and if there is anything that looks weird, have it checked.
Learn How to Check Fluids
You might never change your power steering, coolant, wiper fluid or antifreeze, but you should know how to check them and know whether or not they are low. Sometimes you’ll be able to see the tank’s level directly. However, most of them will have dipsticks or gauges you’re able to remove so you can check their current levels against notches which indicates the best level. Although your vehicle’s owner’s manual might not say much about checking your antifreeze or transmission fluid, you should feel free to pop open your hood, then see if you’re able to find it. If you discover that any fluid is low, put some more in if you’re able to or get the fluid changed. Remember this too, a leak should never be ignored!
Check Your Serpentine and Timing Belts
A lot of people will say that it’s important to have a timing belt replaced around the 60,000 mile mark and that replacing a serpentine belt is important at 40,000 mile mark. You should read the owner’s manual and find out what the manufacturer suggests. You can also find out the information for your car online. This should be used as your guideline. When your vehicle has reached the milestones for replacing them, ask a mechanic to look at them. If those belts still are doing good, you can wait. However, if they’re worn, they should be replaced because otherwise they’ll fail. When this happens, you’re going to break down. That damaged belt also can damage some of your other accessories, which will make the price even higher.
Regularly Check and Change Your Oil
Depending on the age of your vehicle, you may use a dipstick to check the color of your oil or you might have a more modern electronic gauge. Either way, you want to know the way that it’s checked. You should know how to know if it’s dirty or clean, because this is going to help you with saving money and letting you know when and if something’s wrong with the engine. For example, you just had an oil change but your oil is looking terrible. Since everyone’s vehicle is different, making a recommendation for frequency of oil changes is going to be hard. However, you can’t go wrong with going by your owner’s manual. Depending on the age of your vehicle, you may need to change it every 10,000 miles based on the kind of oil your vehicle uses. That is why reading your manual is so important.
Do Battery Checks
The majority of batteries that are sold these days won’t require a lot of maintenance. However, you want to know where your battery is and also check to be sure it’s not leaking. You also want to look at the contacts and see if there’s any type of buildup on the contacts. If you find buildup there, use a brush made specifically for cleaning your battery. You can find this at a department or auto parts store. Keep it in your trunk. You also can think about buying a jump starter or battery tester. This way you can save time by not having to call AAA or asking a stranger to help if you need a jump.
Replace Windshield Wipers
There are a lot of people who ignore their wipers and just have them replaced when someone tells them to do it. This can be really dangerous because it’s going to make it harder for you to see when it’s raining or snowing. You should replace your wipers when they need it not when someone tells you that they need to be replaced. Also make sure that you are cleaning your windshield well, both outside and inside.
Replace Your Cabin’s Air Filter
This is probably one of the things that’s easiest to do to help with keeping your vehicle comfortable. This air filter is very easy to access and all you have to do to replace it is to open up a box. You’ll able to find a filter that fits in any store that sells auto parts. This may not be important to your vehicle operating but it will make your ride much more pleasant, it’s simple and this is one repair you’ll be able to do on your own.
Replace the Air Filter in Your Engine
This could be tricky based on your vehicle, but it’s important to replace it regularly. You will find your mileage estimate in the annual for how often you should replace it. But if you’re someone who drives a lot of miles, you may discover it’s getting dirtier a lot quicker.
Keep an Eye on Your Tires
Rotating and balancing your tires and having your vehicle’s alignment checked is very important. You’ll find out how frequently it needs to be done in your manual, and this is essential for ensuring your tires are wearing evenly so that you have a smooth ride. It’s possible to make tires last a lot longer by having them balanced and rotated. Your vehicle’s alignment is also very important. If you’re finding that your car isn’t going straight, it’s a situation that you can fix with an alignment.
Check Your Vehicle’s Spark Plugs
You want to keep an eye on your vehicle’s spark plugs. If they’re covered with buildup or worn out, you’re going to discover your engine is not efficiently working. Not only can it cost you lots of money in fuel, it also can lead to your vehicle breaking down. Although this could sound daunting, but it’s not really hard to check and replace your spark plugs. If you’re not comfortable doing it on your own, or your vehicle makes it complicated, follow the recommendations in your manual and have them regularly changed. For the majority of vehicles and spark plugs made of copper, this is every 30,000 miles. You should remember that if you use some types of iridium plugs, they can last as long as 100,000 miles.
These are some of the things that your vehicle is going to need, no matter what type of vehicle you have, and most of them can be done on your own. But you want to check your vehicle’s manual to find out what the recommendations are for your specific make and model. Your manual can be found online if you can’t find yours. Taking these small steps can make your car run a lot more efficiently and to help you have a better ride overall. You may even help your vehicle to last a lot longer. Not only that, but your vehicle is going to be a lot safer for you and the other drivers on the road.
Contact Kurt’s Automotive in Naples
Conveniently located at 5430 Yahl St., Suite D, in Naples, Kurt’s Automotive is the place to take your American and European car so it stays in tip-top condition. Contact us at 239-263-3500 to book an appointment for service and maintenance.