Have you ever been driving along happily singing along to your favorite song on the radio and then “BAM” your car just stops and you end up stranded on the side of the road? That can be nerve wracking, to say the least. But, the next thought it your ad is probably, “I wonder how much I’ll be out to fix this problem.”
What is Automotive Preventive Maintenance?
As a car owner, preventive maintenance is the single most important thing you can do for your car. Preventive maintenance includes regular services, inspections and repairs that prevent potential problems – such as lubrication, adjustments, cleaning, testing and replacement of worn parts.
There are seven preventive maintenance tasks you should schedule this year and then continue a set schedule as you move forward.
#1 Oil Changes
Check your vehicle’s owners manual to determine how often your oil does indeed need to be changed. Many people believe its every 3,000 miles but that might not be the case. The manual will also tell you the right type of oil to use as well as filters and other parts. This can be helpful for you, more than the auto mechanic, who likely already has access and knowledge about these things.
#2 Fluid & Belt Inspection
Have an inspection performed, or do it yourself if you are able. Check your fluids including:
- Antifreeze / Coolant
- Wiper Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Transmission Fluid
- Brake Fluid
Check your timing and serpentine belt. Most vehicles need these replaced every 60,000 and 40,000 miles respectively. Your owner’s manual will give you a specific range for your vehicle, and if you don’t do the preventive maintenance on these, you could break down and cause additional damage to others areas of your engine.
#3 Check Your Tires
Check the tread on your tires to see if it is low and wearing evenly. If the tread is low, replace the tires – they are not something to wait on. Worn tires are very dangerous to drive on. Getting tires rotated and balanced will help them last longer. Your manual will tell you how often to get this done. An alignment on your car is needed if the tread isn’t wearing equally on the tire.
#4 Change Filters
Your engine’s air filter needs to be replaced according to your owner’s manual and is based on mileage, Likewise the type of driving you do and the location where you are driving can impact how dirty the air filter gets and how often it will need to be changed.
Replacing a dirty air filter in the cabin is something easy you can do yourself. Get a replacement filter at your auto parts store and check your manual for replacement instructions. This won’t cause your car to break down, but it does keep your car more comfortable.
#5 Inspect & Clean Battery
Take a look at your battery and notice if there is any mineral buildup on the contacts. Clean it with a battery cleaning brush. Make sure your jumper cables are in good working order and consider purchasing a battery tester. Automotive shops as well as auto supply stores can check your battery level as well.
#6 Spark Plugs
Worn or damaged spark plugs can lead to a breakdown, therefore they need to be checked and changed regularly. Ignoring them causes your engine to not work efficiently, about every 30,000 miles or in accordance with your manual.
#7 Keeping It Clean
Replace windshield wipers if they are not doing a good job of clearing your windshield. This can become very dangerous quickly if not. They are rather inexpensive and are easy to replace. Keeping the exterior of your vehicle clean is important to prevent rust. In the case of an accident, anything in the cab of your vehicle can become a projectile, therefore not having unneeded items, is good. Remove or discard anything that doesn’t need to be in the car or isn’t secured.
Auto care preventive maintenance can save you money and keep you safe on the road. It’s not just some manipulation by auto mechanics to get you to spend your money, it really is a benefit to you as an auto owner.