The summer is winding down. After all the summer travel, road trips, and general life wear and tear, your ride could use a little TLC. Car maintenance should be done on the regular. However, when life gets busy, hectic, or it’s too dang nice outside, maintenance gets thrown to the wayside. Your car deserves a little love for everything it does for you. Give your car a little pick me up. You may laugh, but imagine the cost of having your car crap out and needing to replace it. THAT is an expense no one wants. Your car will last longer and function more effectively and efficiently if you perform proper maintenance regularly.
Inspect your tires
Love your tires like you would your women. Give them the old up and down, make sure everything is holding taught and isn’t looking worn. The entirety of your car is riding on your tires. They take the brunt of weather and travel.
- Tires should be rotated regularly to extend their life.
- Check for nails, uneven tread, and other hazards.
- Check the pressure of each tire with a tire pressure gauge when they’re cold, not recently driven. Follow the suggested tire pressure, which can be located on the tire itself.
Checking tread depth is fairly straightforward. The simplest way is to place a penny head-down into the treat. If you can’t see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tires need to be replaced.
Changing the oil
Changing your oil is essential to prolong engine life and keep your vehicle operable. The frequency at which you need to change your oil varies based on what product you use and your make and model. However, oil generally needs to be changed every 3 months or 3000 miles, whichever comes first. Some oils can go up to 5000 miles. Avoid going over the recommended timing or mileage. Oil breaks down over time and becomes less viscous, which prevents it from lubricating as effectively. Overused oil collects debris and gunk which should not cycle through the motor.
The best time to use an additive is before you need it. Additives will keep your vehicle running as efficiently as possible. Additives can also increase the lifespan of any components on which they are used. For example, injector cleaner can lengthen your injector lifespan by cleaning and decreasing blockages. Additives may seem unnecessary, but they are a small investment that may prolong the life of various car components.
Check your fluids
Check all fluid levels, including engine oil, washer fluid, coolant and transmission fluid, and brake and steering fluid. If you have no clue where to locate these, check your owner’s manual for proper locations and fluid levels.
Checking your lights
Lights are essential to keep yourself and other drivers safe. Your lights let other drivers know your location and what you are doing. Do a complete walk around to make sure all lights are working—headlights, turn signals, emergency lights and break lights all should be checked.
Check engine lights
It’s not going to fix itself. If a “check engine light” has been there a while, you need to quit ignoring it and get it taken care of. Some lights may turn on and eventually turn off. This doesn’t necessarily mean the problem is gone. After so many cycles, sometimes the car will store it in a memory bank, yet the problem still persists. Check the error code with a code reader to see if this is a repair you can perform yourself or if this is a problem for the experts. If you have no clue about vehicles, take your car in to have it looked over. The repair shop should be able to complete a diagnosis before beginning repairs. Ask questions about the problem, rate the severity, and estimated cost before beginning repair.
Taking your car to the shop
If you do not feel comfortable doing maintenance or repairs yourself, take it in. Many repair places will perform fluid checks and tire rotation services when completing an oil change. Be sure to ask!
I would suggest finding a respected mechanic and building rapport. It’s always great to have a good enough relationship with your mechanic that you can ask a question without having to first bring your car in. Personally, I have built a relationship where I can just call or text to ask a question. My mechanic will even discuss steps and give me lists of issues to check before bringing my car to the shop.
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