These Maintenance Tips Will Keep Your Car Running At Its Best
December 2nd, 2016 by Eli P
Auto maintenance can cost a lot of time and money, but it’s definitely more cost-effective in the long run. Taking good care of your car will add years to its lifespan and save money by avoiding more expensive repairs. It will also make your car safer to drive every time you get behind the wheel. To keep your car in top running condition, here’s what you need to know about auto maintenance.
Changing the oil is one of the simplest, yet most important maintenance tasks for your car. It’s also the single best thing you can do to keep your engine operating smoothly and efficiently. Depending on the make and model, auto manufacturers typically recommend changing the oil every 3,000 to 10,000 miles. However, for most cars changing the oil every 5,000 miles is sufficient, although synthetic oils can often go longer before needing to be changed.
A clogged air filter can reduce airflow to your car’s engine, causing it to burn fuel inefficiently. Replacing it with a new filter at regular intervals will increase fuel efficiency, reduce greenhouse emissions, and prolong engine life. As a good rule of thumb, replace your air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or sooner if you drive in areas with poor air quality.
Radiators perform the essential task of cooling your engine to keep it from overheating, so it’s important to make sure it doesn’t run out of coolant. Fortunately, anyone can easily check the coolant level and add more if needed. Instead of unscrewing the radiator cap, simply check the fluid level in the coolant reservoir next to the radiator. If the level is below “full,” add a 50/50 mix of water and coolant until it reaches the “full” line. For safety, always wait until the engine is cool before performing this maintenance task.
Spark plugs don’t need to be changed very often, but if you go too long without replacing them it will affect your engine’s performance and your fuel efficiency. Signs that you might need to replace the plugs include:
- Trouble starting the engine
- Rough idling
- Engine misfires or surges
- Poor gas mileage
- Weak acceleration
Unless you know your way around cars, this maintenance task is better left to the professionals.
The fuel filter is another small but very important part of your car’s engine as it helps to keep the fuel clean. Over time, it can become clogged from dirt and debris, when means it’s time for a new one. Fuel filters generally last around two years or 30,000 miles on older cars, and longer on new ones. If you’re not sure when to change it, have a mechanic perform a fuel pressure test.
Belts and hoses.
Belts drive many important engine parts, such as the alternator, water pump, power steering pump and more. Hoses carry essential fluids to these components. In general, belts should be replaced every three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Hoses can usually last four years before they need replacement. One exception is a “serpentine” belt, which powers many different things depending on the make of the car. These typically last five years or 50,000 miles before needing replacing.
Your car’s brakes will let you know when they need servicing, either by having to apply more pressure to the brake pedal and/or metallic scraping noises when you come to a stop. You can also check for wear on the brake pads by looking at them through the spokes in your wheel. For safety reasons, this is one maintenance task you do not want to defer.
Many drivers pay close attention to their brakes while overlooking the importance of brake fluid. Recommendations for when to change brake fluid can vary widely by auto manufacturers. As a general guideline, every two years or 40,000 miles should be sufficient. It’s also a good idea to use new brake fluid after a major brake replacement to ensure the brakes work properly.
Power steering fluid.
Power steering fluid isn’t as critical as break fluid. Still, when it gets dark and cloudy, it’s a good idea to change it to keep the power steering functioning properly. Repair shops will typically recommend flushing all the old fluid before putting new fluid in, but this isn’t always necessary. To avoid the cost of this service you can use a turkey baster to suck out most of the old fluid and put in new fluid yourself.
Changing this fluid at proper intervals can save you the cost of a new transmission, regardless of whether you have a manual or automatic. For manual transmissions, most manufacturers recommend replacing the fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Replacement commendations for automatic transmissions can vary widely depending on the vehicle, although the typical service interval is between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. When in doubt, check your owner manual.
Many drivers don’t consider tires to be a maintenance issue, but they need replacing like all other parts. Virtually all tires come with a mileage guarantee, but the mileage you get will depend on how you drive and how you treat your tires. To get the longest life, keep the air pressure at recommend levels and rotate your tires every 6,000 miles. When the tread wears below recommended levels, or you notice bulges or other deformities, it’s time for new tires regardless of the mileage.
These days, most car batteries don’t require maintenance, but they do wear out, usually after five to seven years of use. Fortunately, most batteries lose their ability to start your car gradually, so they give you a warning signal before they go completely dead. If you’re having difficulty starting your car, check the date on the top of the battery or have a technician check its charging ability.
The timing belt is a key component as it synchronizes the engine’s many different functions. It’s also expensive to replace, which is why many drivers wait until it’s too late. Unfortunately, timing belts rarely show obvious signs of needing replacement. However, if they break, it can cause significant damage to the engine, requiring even more expensive repairs. Depending on the model of car, mechanics typically recommend replacing the timing belt every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual for your car’s specific recommendations.
If your well-maintained car ever needs body work, bring it into your nearest Fix Auto USA repair shop. We’ll be happy to keep it looking as good as it drives.
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