Your vehicle will do a great job if you look after it, but it is more likely to succumb to trouble without regular maintenance. Some little car care routines performed regularly could make the difference between a small outlay today and a huge repair bill later. Here are five car care tips to help you run your car smoothly for longer.
Regular 360º Check
Driving instructors preach this routine and it’s written up in the car driver’s manual: the 360º check up. An owner simply walks all the way around her car looking for potential problems. She kicks the tires looking for loss of air. She checks for broken lights or cracks in the window. She sees if anything is hanging off like a bumper or exhaust. Windshield wipers are examined and the hood lifted. This is also a good time to clean lights, fill the washer fluid bottle, top up radiator fluid or anti-freeze if needed, and wash windows. Little things like this ensure you can see if the weather turns nasty or there is a lot of glare.
Even good tires need a pump up now and then. When you go to add a bit of air, look out for gouges or wear. This is the time to determine if your tires need repair or replacements. Low tires cause your car to pull in one direction so you can’t drive straight. If a tire tends to run a little low but is not flat and you can’t afford to change it right away, move it to the back. You might take this opportunity to change summer tires for winter ones too or vice versa if you live somewhere that experiences wintry conditions.
Every six months you should change the engine oil – or perhaps a bit more frequently if you tend to put a lot of miles on your vehicle. This keeps the engine clean and helps it to run smoothly. Replace the oil filter at this time too. While the job is dirty, especially the first time you do it, it’s not technically difficult. If you aren’t confident or hate dirt, have it booked in for service twice yearly. Check for oil leaks too.
Break pads wear down and you might not realize until you try to stop and just keep moving forward. There are lots of signs the brakes need new pads or other repairs. They might make strange noises. When braking, you have to push the pedal down further and further all the time to stop. Pulling from your breaks is a bad sign too.
The heating core can sometimes become blocked. If you switch on the heater to clear your frosty screen it won’t work. Not only is the car cold inside but you can’t drive this way. Check the temperature that’s coming out in the weeks before cold weather hits.