Maintenance is key when it comes to keeping a smooth running vehicle. And a smooth running vehicle is important for keeping you and others safe. While proper maintenance should be done professionally, you can always take proactive steps to ensure your vehicle is in tip top shape.
Let’s take a look at 10 essential car maintenance tasks all drivers should prioritise:
Checking tires is as straightforward as they come. It’s also one of the most critical aspects of car maintenance. Properly inflated and well-maintained tires will bring a ton of benefits to you and your vehicle. Here are 2 things anyone can check on:
- Pressure: A good way to check tire pressure is the old foot to tire test. But it’s even better to use a tire gauge for accuracy. The recommended pressure can be found in your vehicle’s manual or when in doubt, just Google it!
- Depth: Tire threads are crucial for traction especially in wet and slippery conditions. The penny test, a simple way to check tread depth, requires nothing more than a penny. It’s an easy way to determine the condition of your tire thread.
A routine oil check is just as important as checking your tires. Check your oil level each month and make sure it’s within the recommended range. If it needs a change, you can either do it yourself or take it to a service centre.
Changing it on your own can get very messy however but it’ll definitely save you a buck or two. Regardless if you do it on your own or not, make sure you know the right motor oil for your car.
Last but not least, make sure to check your exhaust. This can be a bit tedious as you need a jack or ramp to prop your car up. Once you’ve got your car propped up, remember to look out for:
- Rust and Holes: Rust or holes in the pipes or mufflers can lead to exhaust leaks. This can be dangerous as it can cause cabin fumes and failed emissions.
- Exhaust Noise: Your exhaust shouldn’t be making weird noises and you should replace it as soon as it does.
The coolant prevents your car from overheating and it also protects the engine from freezing in cold temperatures. Regular checks is crucial to maintaining your vehicle’s overall performance and there are several things you need pay attention to:
- Coolant Reservoir: Check the reservoir tank and make sure the coolant is not at “MIN”. Top it with a mixture of coolant and water if it is.
- Coolant Valve: Make sure the water in the valve is visible. Top it up with some water, preferably distilled, if it is not.
- Check for Leaks: Check for coolant leaks under your car. They usually have a sweet, syrupy smell.
Lights are as straightforward as they get when it comes to inspection. All you need to do is make sure all your lights are well lit. This includes headlights, taillights, brake lights, reverse lights and turn signals.
Replacing worn out bulbs is a task that can greatly enhance your visibility on the road. It’s also fairly easy, something most car owners can do on their own.
A lack of brakes will put your car on skates so always get them checked. Basic break inspections include:
- Listening for Unusual Noises: Pay attention to unusual sounds when you apply the breaks. This includes squeaking, squealing or grinding.
- Brake Fluid: Check the brake fluid levels and ensure they are within the recommended range.
- Brake Pedal: A spongy or soft pedal is an indication of air in the brake lines or a brake fluid leak.
These are all telltale signs of worn out brakes and you should get them fixed immediately.
Car batteries have an average lifespan of 3-4 years. They can last less or more depending on how well you maintain it but you should check on it regardless. Use a multimeter to test your car battery or take it to a workshop if you don’t have one.
And don’t forget to clean your battery terminals. That white powdery residue on your battery is called corrosion and it can cause serious damage. A small amount of the stuff is fine but make sure you clean it if you see an excess amount.
Wipers may seem like a minor detail but they play a major role in getting you out of extreme weather. Inspect your wipers for any signs of wear and tear or look out for streaks on your windshield.
Replace them if you do find any and fortunately, changing wiper blades is a simple task most car owners can tackle. And don’t forget to top up your wiper fluid!
9. Belts and Hoses
There are many belts and hoses under your car’s hood, each playing a role in ensuring a smooth engine. These components consist of; serpentine belts, timing belts and hoses.
Driving with a broken belt or hose is dangerous and could cause serious damage to your engine. Inspect them regularly for signs of cracks and replace them immediately.
You can replace them on your own too but it may not be as easy as replacing your headlights per say.
10. Air Filter
The air filter ensures clean air is delivered to the engine for combustion. A clogged air filter can lead to decreased fuel efficiency and reduced engine performance. Not to mention the possibility of an engine failure.
It’s a good idea to replace your air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles and thankfully, it’s something you can do on your own. All you need is a screwdriver and a rag because it can get messy.
Maintaining your car is not just about conserving its appearance; it’s about ensuring its efficiency, reliability and most importantly, safety. Neglecting maintenance can lead to a whole range of issues that no car owner would want to experience.
So take the proactive step to check on your car and if you can’t make the replacements on your own, you can always rely on your trusted service centre.