Your car is one of the most expensive items you will buy, and it’s important to look after it and carry out regular maintenance. A well-maintained vehicle will run better, be safer, have a longer life, and save you money. Each season brings different challenges for your car, with extremely hot or cold temperatures being particularly tough on many components.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the routine vehicle maintenance you should carry out throughout the year. From changing the oil to rotating the tires, these basic tasks will provide you with wide-ranging benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Regular Car Maintenance?
One of the most important aspects of regular maintenance is keeping your car in the safest condition. Many road accidents are caused by the failure of parts on a poorly maintained vehicle. Your tires, brakes, and suspension need to be in good condition for your car to operate properly and for the safety of you, your family, and other people on the road.
Additionally, when your car is not well-maintained, it is more likely to break down. If that happens at night on a quiet stretch of road, it could leave you or a family member stranded in a vulnerable position.
You’ll Save Money
Regular car maintenance will save you money in a number of ways. When your car is running at its best, it is also more fuel-efficient. A poorly tuned engine, for example, can increase your fuel consumption by up to 50%. The condition of your engine oil, filters, and tires can all affect your vehicle’s fuel economy, so following the recommended service schedule and getting regular engine tune-ups will mean fewer visits to the gas station.
With regular inspections under the hood, you can also avoid unexpected repairs. Each time you check the fluid levels, take the opportunity to look for any leaks, cracked or leaking hoses, worn belts, or any components showing excessive wear and tear. When you check your tire pressure, inspect your brake discs and pads for wear. Catching and rectifying problems early can save you expensive repairs or replacements later.
When it’s time to sell or trade your car, providing a full service history can increase its value. Keep all the receipts for maintenance work you have done and any parts you replace so that a prospective buyer will know that the vehicle has been well cared for.
Extend Your Car’s Life
Another important benefit of regular maintenance is that your car will last longer. If you neglect simple things like changing the oil, your engine will suffer from increased wear and tear as less lubrication means more friction. Taking care of your engine, transmission, drivetrain, cooling system, brakes, and tires will prolong the life of these components.
It’s always advised to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. However, between inspections, you should carry out routine maintenance to keep an eye on things. How often you perform the maintenance tasks might depend on how much you drive and the type of driving you mostly do, but bear in mind that sitting idle can also be hard on your car.
Generally, you should check your fluid levels and tire pressure on a weekly basis. If your daily commute involves stop-and-go driving in the city, you might want to check your brakes every week. If most of your driving is on free-flowing highways, a monthly inspection may be enough. A lot of off-road driving can take its toll on your vehicle, so if your driving style involves off-roading, you should have your suspension and shocks inspected regularly.
Check Your Fluid Levels
Your car depends on several fluids to keep it running smoothly. Your local service center will check and change them as necessary during a scheduled service, but you should keep an eye on the levels in between maintenance appointments. Be sure to check the following:
- Engine Oil. Your engine needs oil to lubricate the metal parts and absorb heat as the components move against each other. The oil needs to be at the correct level to work efficiently, so check it with the dipstick. It’s recommended to have an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
- Transmission Fluid. Much like your engine, the automatic transmission has parts that need the proper fluid to work smoothly together. If the fluid runs low, it can become contaminated and reduce the life of your transmission.
- Coolant. Keep your radiator topped up with the correct mix of antifreeze and water. The coolant doesn’t just prevent freezing; it also helps to stop rust from forming.
- Brake Fluid. Your brakes are operated by a hydraulic system, and the brake fluid is essential for efficient braking. The fluid doesn’t evaporate, so if it runs low, there may be a leak in the system which needs to be checked by a qualified technician.
- Power Steering Fluid. If your steering fluid is low, your car could become difficult to steer. Check the level and have the fluid changed as required.
Have the Brakes Checked
Efficient brakes are essential for safe driving. Over time, the brake pads wear down, and, if they’re not changed in time, you will end up with metal grinding on your discs. You will then have to replace the rotors as well as the pads. Regularly check the thickness of the pads and change them before it’s too late. If you brake and hear a grinding noise, or you feel shuddering, or the pedal feels spongy, you have a brake problem that needs to be checked out.
Your tires are the only connection your car has with the road, and it is crucial that they are in good condition and at the right pressure. If the tire pressure is too low or too high, your car’s stability, braking, and cornering can all be affected. When you check your tires’ air pressure, also inspect the tire tread for wear, and check the sidewalls for any cracks or bulges that could cause a blowout.
Performing these routine maintenance tasks will help keep your car running smoothly and safely, and it can also save you money. At Huffines Hyundai McKinney, we can help you with all your servicing needs, so get in touch today.
Image via Flickr by theKCB