Regular preventative maintenance is the most important habit you can have as as car owner to keep your car in good shape and save money on big future repairs. But preventative maintenance is a broad category. What exactly are some of the universal things within this category that you should make sure you’re familiar with?
First of all, read your owner’s manual. No matter what vehicle you drive, your regular maintenance schedule is inside of it. It will tell you useful information such as how often you should change your oil, what type of oil to use, what grade of gasoline is recommended, what kind of filters the car uses, various belts and other parts, and much more. If you bought a used car and it didn’t come with a manual, this website has one for just about any car: http://justgivemethedamnmanual.com/ . It is important that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for what type of oil and gas to put into your car, because using the wrong kind can potentially void your warranty and cause extensive damage over time.
Any vehicle owner should periodically do their own inspection. Look over your whole car and see if anything looks out of place – make sure that all of the lights are working, listen for any strange noises, and make sure that your tires have enough tread.
You should also check your tire pressure every few weeks – keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment, and to check the tire pressure, unscrew each valve cap and press the gauge into the valve. A number should pop up telling you how many psi of pressure you have. Having the wrong tire pressure can severely hurt your gas mileage and affect your vehicle’s performance, so making sure that it is up to specification can save you money.
Learn to check your vehicle’s fluids, including power steering, coolant, wiper fluid, transmission fluid, and motor oil. Most of these are done by pulling out a dipstick and checking the level – make sure to wipe it off once and dip it in again to get a proper reading – or by looking at markers on the side of the tank. Newer cars may have electronic gauges, and cars often have warning lights for some fluids on the dashboard. If you notice anything running low, check for leaks and add more or get it changed. Never ignore a leak, especially for fluids that, if gone, can cause catastrophic damage: coolant, oil, and transmission fluid. Also make sure to pay attention to how these fluids look, and if they do not look normal then consult a mechanic to figure out what is wrong. Cloudy or discolored fluids are often a sign that there is something severely wrong with your engine.
Inspect and get your timing and serpentine belts replaced when necessary. Most cars will need them replaced about every 50,000 miles, but your owner’s manual should tell you the specific numbers for your vehicle. Ask your mechanic to inspect them, and if they are worn out then get them replaced before they fail. If they fail while you are driving, your engine will not be able to keep running, leaving you stranded and possibly damaging other components and leading to more expensive repairs.
It is also important to get your tires rotated and balanced, and alignment checked regularly. Your owner’s manual, again, should tell you how often. This will help your tires wear evenly and your car drive smoothly. Tires will last much longer if they are properly rotated and balanced, and even if your car drives straight, your alignment may be off by a little bit, which can lead to excess wear.
These are just a few things that every vehicle owner should pay attention to. But even if you miss something, Orozco’s Auto Service will catch any small problems before they get bigger. Pay attention to what your car needs, and if it needs something, bring it to Orozco’s Auto Service and we’ll keep you and your vehicle safe and reliable!