Most drivers know, as we’ve covered before, that owning a vehicle is more often an expense than an investment; Typically, the cars we drive day-to-day aren’t gems worth thousands of dollars when they reach the end of their life cycle. Since drivers know that eventually the car they spent thousands on will die out and need to be scrapped, most drivers want to stretch their dollars and keep their car on the road for as long as possible without dumping a lot of money into maintaining it. The easiest way to do just that and keep your car running strong for as long as possible? It’s as simple as regular vehicle checks and maintenance.
Under the Hood
When vehicle maintenance is mentioned, the first thing that usually comes to mind is regular oil checks and changes – and it’s for a good reason! Oil is like your engine’s bloodline; Without the proper amount and type of clean oil, your engine most likely won’t run properly and could give way to all sorts of damaging problems that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. It’s best to check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specifics on how often you should change the oil and with what type of oil, however a good rule of thumb is to change your oil every 3,000 miles or so. If you want to really stay on top of things, check your oil levels via the dipstick every other time you fill up on gas and change it when things start looking dirty or low.
While you’re changing the oil in your car, take the time to make other important checks around your vehicle. While under the hood, you or your mechanic should check all the belts and hoses for signs of cracks, leaks, damage, or any other signs that indicate they should be replaced. After checking the belts and hoses, check your air filter and either clean it or replace it if necessary. In the worst scenarios, a clogged air filter can lower your fuel economy, put stress on your engine, cause overheating and even engine stalls.
You should also take this time to check your fluid levels. Most obvious is the wiper fluid, but you should also make sure your brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant are filled to the proper level and are free of leaks and/or contaminants. Finally, double check the wiring and cables under the hood to make sure there aren’t loose connections or split wires, and make sure your battery connections are clean and secure. It’s a good idea to have your battery tested a few times a year as well to make sure it’s still performing at its highest capacity. Using battery lube and pads can help maintain a secure, clean connection and help to prolong the life of your battery.
Around the Vehicle
Getting out from under the hood, there are various simple checks you should regularly perform around your car. First things first, keep yourself as safe as possible and avoid potential fines by making sure all your lights work – headlights, taillights, blinkers, license plate lights, and any other lights you have in and around the vehicle. If you replace any bulbs, make sure you use the right type of replacement bulb and wear gloves or take caution as to not touch the bulb with bare hands.
Once you finish checking your lights, take a look at your wiper blades. If you haven’t had them for too long but they aren’t performing like you’d like, clean the blades and your windshield with denatured alcohol. This should help preserve your wiper blades and provide a better, streak-free clean on your windshield. If that doesn’t help or you’ve had your current blades for some time, consider replacing them with new high-quality blades.
Finally, you’ll want to finish off your vehicle check inside the car. If you can access it yourself, check the cabin air filter and clean or replace as needed. After checking on that, look at the rest of your car’s interior. Is it clean? Although it won’t necessarily help your car perform better, by keeping things clean you could greatly increase the car’s resale value should you decide to sell it later on. Put yourself in the seller’s shoes; It’s easy to spot a car that hasn’t been cared for, and often that’s a sure turn-off to potential buyers.
In all, by simply being an aware, careful driver and performing simple, regular checks around your vehicle, it isn’t hard to prolong the life of your vehicle and help it maintain its value. Keep in mind, however, that these simple maintenance items alone aren’t enough to catch all potential issues with your car. It’s a good idea to see your mechanic a couple times a year to run full checks on your vehicle, that way if there are any hidden problems you can catch them before they get worse. If you’ve performed your regular maintenance checks and find you’re in need of parts or supplied for a quick tune up, stop by Holbrook Auto Parts for affordable everyday prices on the quality auto parts you need to stay On the Move!