Hello, everyone, I’m back with yet another vital topic, and this time we’re gonna talk about maintenance. It’s an extremely important thing to do, if you want your steel friend to have a long and happy life. Nowadays people are just worried about buying the car, with little or no consideration regarding the maintenance routine every vehicle requires. Believe it or not, an up-to-date car can have roughly around 70 thousand little parts, and the malfunction of even one of those may have a very unpleasant effect on your car’s behavior and health.
Watch My Back And I’ll Watch Yours
Your car is your best friend on the road – I’ve been saying this a lot, but I still can’t stress it enough. You take care of it, it takes care of you – that’s how it works. And this is your life and the life of your loved ones we’re talking about, so, you need to be extremely serious about this, and leave no room for accidents. Keeping your 4-wheel buddy in good condition guarantees a solid lifeline for it, with significantly less hassle and unexpected break-downs in the middle of the road. Not to mention the opportunity to sell if for a far better price sometime in the future.
The Most Important Parts Of Your Car
For organizational purposes, as well as for making your task a lot simpler and easier, it’s a good idea to make some kind of a schedule and check back with it every once in a while to see the state of things, so to speak. Try to break down your list into six main sections, like Tires, Brakes, Interior, Windows, Oil, and Other, the last one being a collective stamp for the rest of the maintenance duties you’re gonna be doing to keep your car happy and ready to rumble. I believe the tires to be the most important part of the car, along with the brakes, as they play a vital role, especially when you’re on the road during winter time, and there’s that glassy ice on the road. If – God forbid – your breaks stop working, and your tires get shabby, a regular drive down the road can turn into a catastrophe in no time. So, that’s why I want to start with the tires first, then the brakes, and down the list.
Maintenance 101: Tires
So, the thing to know about tires is they need to be inflated to the exact pressure indicated by the manufacturer. You can check the pressure with tire gauges – they’re pretty cheap and don’t require any special skills to use them. If the tread wear indicators are somewhere between the treads, that means you gotta go shopping for new tires. Try to replace them as soon as possible – don’t put this off for too long. As I said, it’s pretty easy, but, if you’re having a hard time indentifying the wear indicators, ask about it the first mechanic or, better yet, tire dealer in the neighborhood. Check your tire’s pressure on alternate days, and check them for wear every week or so.
Maintenance 101: Brakes
The braking systems in cars nowadays are made in a way that they can be easily replaced once in a while to maintain a good braking efficiency. If you feel that your car’s got even the slightest problem with the brakes, drive to the service center, and have your brakes checked right away. As I warned you before, if the brakes break down, you’ll run the risk of having a serious crash – fatal, even. Next, we’ve got the belts. They also require some taking care of, so, check them periodically for tension and wear “symptoms”. Usually loose belts (that’s when they’re not tight enough) like to make a pretty loud and somewhat squealing noise; if that’s the case, visit the service center, and have them take care of it.
The Batteries Are Not Everlasting
The battery is a very important part of the powertrain, and it needs no less attention from you. Check it once a month for any signs of corrosion, and clean it if necessary (or, you can have the service center do that for you). And try not to run your battery down completely. It’s gonna be hard to get it back to life, even with a jump start. Batteries get old – keep that in mind. If you decide to have your battery replaced, it’s generally a good idea to check the alternator and the distributor to see whether they are the reason for the disorder or not. Only after you made sure they work properly you can proceed with the replacement.
Maintenance 101: Take Care Of Your Car’s Oil
If the engine is the heart of your vehicle, then oil is the blood rushing through the vessels. Without oil the car can’t really go that far – it’s not going to be a pleasant ride, that’s for sure. If you don’t know how to change the oil in the engine properly (not a lot of people do), you can ask the local mechanic to at least demonstrate you how to check it the right way. Generally, experts recommend changing the oil every 3-3,5K miles.
By the way, oil manufacturers swear that their oil can easily last at least 10K miles, but practice shows, that anybody who cares about his engine and his own well-being, should run the car on the same oil for no longer than 5 thousand miles. That’s gonna ensure maximum engine efficiency and reliability over the long run. So, just make sure to check on the oil once a week or so, and change it, or ask a pro to do that each time you reach the 4-5K mile threshold (that’s about 6, 5 – 7.2 kilometers).
A Clean Interior Equals A Happy Customer
Pay extra attention to the well-being of your interior. Clean it, and vacuum the cabin, if need be. Most people don’t know this, but the interior is likely to be the critical mass, the selling power if you ever decide to trade your vehicle, or sell it. The vast majority of buyers doesn’t really know, or maybe even doesn’t care about the state of your car’s tires or oil; however, if the radio, or the CD-player doesn’t work properly, or if the interior is somewhat old and dusty, the deal might just be off.
Yep, you can have a superb engine, tires and oil in great condition, but that’s not what people pay attention to. Some wise guy said once, that the price of the trade is valued, depending on the state of the cabin, and that statement proves to be true to this very day. So, if you’re set on selling or trading your 4-wheel steel friend, then you’ve got to spend some extra time in your cabin, beating the dust and cleaning the dashboard, seats, and, most importantly, the floor. This certainly isn’t the most pleasant activity out there, but your hard work will eventually pay off – trust me on that.
Naturally, the exterior also needs some attention, but it’s much simpler, compared to cleaning the interior. All you need is a bucket full of water, mixed with car wash soap (see the needed quantity on the bottle). Next, you’ll need some rags, or maybe sponges, and that’s it! Actually, this can be very relaxing and enjoyable, especially if you get your kids to participate. And, if you don’t even wanna do that, you can just drive to the nearest carwash – they’ll get your car all-new and shiny in two minutes.
Maintenance 101: Windows
Alright, so, it’s pretty straightforward with the windows: just make sure that all the mirrors and lights (and windows, of course) are shiny clean, and that nothing’s broken. If you’ve got some damaged mirrors or lights, make sure to change them pronto. If your windshield got some minor cracks, drive to the repair center and ask the personnel to check if it’s still repairable, or if you’ll have to by a new one.
Protect Your Windshields!
And, as a general rule, check for small cracks and damages on a regular basis. Make a habit of leaving plenty of room whenever driving behind other cars, ’cause they can throw (not intentionally, I hope) all kinds of nasty objects at your window/windshield/mirrors from the ground. Yep, even a tiny pebble can make some major damages to your windshield, not to mention the reaction your wife/girlfriend will have.
Checking The Lights
You can arrange a full check of your lights by yourself, if you find a place to park that has some reflective windows. Or, you should rather ask your buddy to just slowly walk around the car, while you’re turning the car lights on and off. Do a thorough check, including reverse lights, taillights, and headlights. A quick tip: even though your headlights might work fine at the first glance, it’s important to see where exactly are they pointing at, and, if you find some tilting, make sure to have that corrected. The headlights should be beaming down and towards the outside of the driveway – not straight, nor up, or closer to the center. This is a serious factor, guys, don’t take it lightly. Misaligned headlights are known to distract and confuse the drivers you follow on the road, as well as drivers, who ride on the adjacent or opposite lane.
A lot of people complain about the windshield wipers wearing out too quickly. Well, you don’t have to replace the whole thing – just the wiper blades. It’s very easy to do that, actually, so, just make sure to put in new blades every year – right before the major rainy season begins. Nobody’s stopping you from replacing the whole wiper assembly, it’s just not practical (and it’s costly). If you live in a rainy neighborhood, and find yourself driving in wet weather almost every day, I suggest you consider a water repellent treatment for your windshield. This will make sure that water slides off your windshield, and doesn’t linger on it (you know, in long streaks right in the middle). A good choice would be the Rain-X. By the way, depending on the city you live in, you may be asked to get your vehicle checked for emissions on a regular basis. So, just keep that in mind.
Keep It Steady
Also, it’s wise to keep a tire pressure gauge and a small flashlight in the trunk (or elsewhere in the car) – that’s gonna be really helpful for all kinds of maintenance jobs. And, if you just feel like something is out of place, have your car checked at the service center. There can be a strange smell, some noise coming out, the dashboard acting funny, anything. It’s your civilian duty to keep your car in a good shape and as safe and trouble-free as possible, ’cause not only your life depends on it, but also the life of your passengers and people who drive by you on the road.
Next, find some spare time and study your user’s manual. It may be dull and agglomerated, but it will still have some useful information about your car. And finally, make it a habit to track your mileage and fuel consumption. This way, you’ll teach yourself to save fuel and drive more carefully; furthermore, you’ll be able to notice any changes in fuel consumption and that can be a sign of a maintenance problem. Ok, guys, that’s about it! Keep your car in a good condition, make a habit of regular checks, and drive safe!
Check out this video: Basic Car Care & Maintenance : How to Keep a Car Engine Clean.