10 Maintenance Tips
Car maintenance is not about waiting for your dashboard to light up, your brakes to squeal, and your power steering pump to fail. Conscientious car maintenance is about being proactive and preventing those things from happening. But that requires you to practice a number of good habits. Here are some great car maintenance tips that you should try to keep in mind all the time!
Change your oil
Okay, this is obvious and I mention it all the time. Seriously, all the time. But it’s important. Check your oil level regularly to make sure you don’t have a leak. If the oil level is good, just get an oil change as often your manufacturer recommends. Regular oil changes are perfectly affordable and keep your engine in good health for the long-term.
Park it in the garage
Studies have shown that vehicles parked in the garage have bodies that last 5 years longer than those regularly parked outside. Weather and light are hard on your paint and cause it to fade. The sun also dries out plastic components in the interior. In a warm garage, your vehicle is in no danger of light damage, hail, or old-fashioned vandalism.
Use it or lose it
This may seem counterintuitive, but disuse is bad for your vehicle. To start with, your battery will drain, even if it’s disconnected. Belts, wires, valves, and seals can corrode or crack when left in disuse and not exposed to oil or lubricants. This can lead to leaks and other damage. Even gasoline can go bad if you leave it in your tank long enough. Try to drive your vehicle every week.
Sand is abrasive. Salt is corrosive. That means winter driving is terrible for your vehicle! If you want to prevent premature rust, get your car washed during winter – every month if possible. And when you do, make sure you hit the undercarriage. It catches the majority of the salt and sand and is harder to reach.
Rotate your tires
I know. Tire rotation sounds like a made up service designed to make money. But it’s important. If you don’t rotate your tire, each will wear in specific stress points. When you rotate your tires, it ensures that each of your tires wears evenly throughout its life. That means your tires will last longer overall, saving you hundreds of dollars.
Check tire pressure
Checking your tire pressure is easy but often ignored. Over time your tires lose air pressure. When they do, you’re at a greater risk of puncture, your braking distances are longer, and your fuel economy suffers. The correct air pressure is listed in the doorjamb and you can fill up at any gas station if you don’t have an air compressor at home.
Check Air Filters
You have two air filters, one for the cabin (the air you breathe) and one for the engine (the air the engine breathes). You should change both of these filters between 25,000 and 50,000 kms. Your owner’s manual will provide a more specific estimate. Always stray toward the early side of any range if you regularly drive in polluted air or on unpaved roads.
Don’t let your brake pads wear down completely. Manufacturer’s have gone to trouble of installing wear indicators that scream at you when the friction material is almost depleted. If you let the pads wear down completely, the the calipers will make direct contact with the rotors. That’s metal on metal contact that will destroy the rotor necessitating a costly replacement. Plus, your braking power will be severely impeded.
The way you drive affects the life of your vehicle. If you accelerate quickly, brake quickly, drive short distances, and start your vehicle in the cold, its components aren’t going to last as long as those in vehicles driven more conservatively.
Belts and hoses
Even if you don’t know much about auto maintenance, you can still check on the health of your car’s belts and hoses visually. Look for cracks and leaks in the plastic and rubber bits. Noticing damage to belts and hoses early helps prevent more costly repairs down the line.