How to Keep Your Car in Tip-Top Shape

Whether you’ve purchased a new or used vehicle, you can prolong the life of the car with regular maintenance. While current model vehicles don’t need service as often as older models, they can still benefit from regular checkups and visits to a trusted mechanic.

Change the Oil and Other Fluids

Every few months, you should check the oil and have it changed. Some manufacturers recommend every 3,000 miles, but you should check your manual. If you drive in severe weather conditions, you might need an oil change more frequently.

As fluids move through the car’s system, it’ll pick up contamination. When you don’t remove the contaminated fluids, it’ll start to erode and wear the internal parts of the vehicle. This is why it’s vital that you change these fluids regularly. Always include oil and automatic transmission fluid changes with every tuneup.

While some fluids should be changed, others need to be topped off during the fluid check. Brake fluid, coolant and power steering fluid levels should be checked with every visit.

Filters and Exhaust System Exam

Most car owners know about the engine filter, but most don’t know that there are other filters in the car like the in-cabin filter that keeps dirty air from coming through the vents. It’s tough to get to some of the filters, which is why you should have a professional change them occasionally. They don’t need to be changed as often as the engine filter, but should be changed on a consistent basis.

When changing the filters, have the exhaust system examined to make sure there are no holes, cracks or seals that are breaking. The whole point of maintenance is to catch tiny problems before they turn into serious ones.

Brakes, Battery and Tires

You can check these yourself visually before bringing them to be serviced by professionals. Most cars have disc brakes on the front tires. You can see if these are worn by checking them. You don’t have to remove the tire on some cars either. If the pad has disappeared into the steel, it needs to be replaced.

Tires that are going bald can be as dangerous as brakes that are worn. The tread is what grips the road and keeps you from skidding around corners. You can easily to a tread check with a penny. The Department of Transportation recommends that tires are replaced when the tread reaches 2/32 of an inch. Place the penny with Lincoln’s head facing down. If the top of his head disappears, you still have enough tire tread and don’t need replacements.

Batteries can last 3 to 4 years, but after that, they need to be replaced. If you live in a climate that sees seriously cold days and nights, you might need to replace the battery more frequently. Old batteries are not reliable, and you should see about replacing them every few years.

Watch for Signs

Along with routine maintenance, you should be watching for signs of trouble. When you ignore signs of trouble, it could end up costing you more in the long run. Instead of a timing belt replacement, you could end up with thousands of dollars in damage.

  • Pay attention to the check engine light. It means that you should take the car to a mechanic. Don’t assume it’s a flickering light in the dashboard.
  • Oil leaks under the car signify a serious problem. Your car needs that oil to lubricate the engine.
  • If your car is loud or has terrible vibrations while driving, it should be checked by a mechanic. Don’t ignore any of these problems.

The first step to keeping your car in pristine condition is to have it checked regularly and have routine maintenance done. Always be conscious of signs that the car needs to be repaired and don’t leave minor repairs to turn into major issues.

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