I hate it when my car breaks down, and I am sure you do as well. The best way to prevent your car from breaking down is to practice preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance is the service you or your mechanic provides to your car to keep it running correctly and efficiently, extend the life of your car, and prevent it from breaking down.
The better ongoing preventative maintenance and care you give your car, the better it will perform and the more reliable it will be. Giving your vehicle the love and care it deserves can help maintain your fuel economy and reduce your emissions. If you follow these essential preventative maintenance tips, your car will spend more time on the road and less time in the repair shop.
If your engine is sluggish to start, then it can be the first sign that your car battery is failing and needs to be replaced. The majority of car batteries today do not require upkeep and will last about 3 years.
You should have your tires rotated roughly every 6,000 miles to help prevent uneven wear. Check your car’s owner’s manual for the proper tire inflation. Keeping your tires properly inflated will provide you with better traction, fuel economy, and prevent uneven wear. Replace your tires, if they become too worn. If your car has a full size spare, do not forget to check it as well.
- Oil and Oil Filter
One of the basic steps in preventative maintenance is checking and changing your engine oil regularly. Most auto manufacturers recommend that you change out your car’s engine oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles (roughly every 3-6 months), however many newer car models are able to go further between oil changes.To check the oil, make sure your car is parked on a level surface with the engine off. Lift up the hood, pull out the oil dipstick, wipe it off, and place it back into the oil reserve. Remove the oil dipstick again and check the oil level against the markings on the dipstick. If necessary, add oil to appropriate levels. Do not feel the need to overfill your car with oil as this can damage your engine the same as having too little oil.
- Coolant and Antifreeze
It is recommended that you replace your engine’s coolant/antifreeze approximately every 30,000 miles, however newer coolant formulas will allow you to go up to 50,000 miles. When the engine is off and cool, find the reservoir containing the coolant/antifreeze. The reservoir will usually have a clear mark on it, where the coolant level should be. If necessary, fill the reservoir with the correct coolant/antifreeze to the designated line.
The initial signs that your brakes are in need of maintenance are noisy brakes or your car vibrating or sticking, as you try to come to a stop. The frequency with which you change your brake pads depends on the typical driving conditions in your area and how aggressively you start and stop your car over time.
- Transmission Fluid
Most auto manufacturers recommend changing out your transmission fluid about every 30,000 miles. To check your automatic transmission fluid levels, find the transmission fluid reservoir marked ATF. While the engine is on and running, follow the same basic steps as when you check the oil, except you will be checking the transmission fluid dipstick.
- Power Steering Fluid
Under normal usage, it is recommended that you change the power steering fluid every 50,000 miles. Use your owner’s manual to help you locate the power steering fluid reservoir. There is usually no need to fill this, so low levels of power steering fluid can indicate the presence of a leak.
- Fuel Filter
Many people forget that keeping their car’s fuel filter clean is critical to maintaining fuel economy. Best practice suggests that you change out your fuel filter yearly to prevent debris and build-up from blacking your fuel line or hurting your fuel economy.
- Air Filters
An air filter helps keep dirt and filth out of your engine. It is recommended that you replace your air filter every 15,000 miles.
Keeping your car running smoothly and efficiently over the long haul is a matter of caring for it. Get in the habit of doing routine preventative maintenance to help extend the life of your car and keep it out of the repair shop.
Lawrence Reaves writes for Woodfins Auto Parts, a company offering guaranteed used auto parts from transmissions and engines to every part in between. Go here to find the parts you need for your vehicle.