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Basic Vehicle Maintenance, How to Extend the life of your car

August 05, 2019 5 min read

Cars aren’t cheap. After the purchase of a home, your vehicle is likely one of the biggest investments that you’ll make financially during your lifetime. Thus, your goal is probably to ensure you’re doing everything you can to increase the lifetime of your vehicle. By practicing these preventative steps, you’ll not only have a higher chance of being able to get use out of your vehicle for years to come but will likely avoid the risk of costly breakdowns and repairs in the future. These are just a few major steps that we encourage you to take to extend the life of your vehicle. While these tasks might take some time to compete, you’ll ultimately be saving yourself time and money in the future.


Review Your Owner’s Manual

Did you toss the owner’s manual of your vehicle into the glove box shortly after purchasing your car and haven’t looked at it since? Dig it back out and take the time to review it because the manual has important information about the maintenance and care of your vehicle. The maintenance schedule section should provide you with an estimated time frame you should use to take care of various maintenance items such as tire rotations, changing your engine oil and filter, and so on. Can’t find your copy of the owner’s manual? You should be able to find one easily online by simply typing in the year, make and model of your vehicle. You could also contact the dealership and they will provide you with one.


Check Your Tires at Least once a Month

Few people take proper care of their tires. Often, they wait until they have a flat or the low tire pressure light pops up on their dash to check their tire pressure. You should be making it into a habit to check your car’s tire pressure at least once a month. It takes five minutes or less and decreases your risk of ending up stranded somewhere due to a tire problem. Your tires need to be inflated properly to ensure your vehicle can operate to its fullest capacity and you don’t experience a blowout when driving. Also, improperly inflated tires will decrease your gas mileage causing you to fill up on gas more frequently. You can find the proper tire pressure for your tires within the owner’s manual of your vehicle. Inflate your tires to the prescribed amount if they are lacking.


If you find that one of your tires is significantly lower that the others, then you could be dealing with a slow leak caused by a nail or other debris from the road. It’s better to take your vehicle into the shop now to get the tire patched rather than waiting for a blowout and having to purchase a whole new tire. While you’re checking your tire pressure, don’t neglect your spare tire. Make sure it is at the proper air pressure and prepared for you to use in the case of an emergency.


Inspect Fluids

Many people take care to check their motor oil but neglect the other fluids essential to the safety and function of the vehicle, such as brake and transmission fluids, coolant and washer fluid. You’ll use a dipstick like the one you would use to check your motor oil to check your transmission fluid. The dipstick will indicate what a normal range is for your vehicle. If you’re not sure, your owner’s manual will provide you with the correct amount. Be sure to check the color and viscosity of the oil. Clean oil will be a nice golden, almost transparent and runny. Bad oil will be very viscous, thick and have the appearance of dark chocolate.


Examine the levels of your brake fluid, coolant and washer fluid by lifting the various covers. For coolant, you will want to ensure that the liquid is at least up to the minimum line. If it isn’t, you’ll want to fill it with a combined mixture of water and antifreeze. Doing so will keep your car safe and allow the air conditioning to work to its fullest capacity.


Brake fluid maintenance is the same process. If the liquid is low, refill it, being careful not to go above the maximum fill line. If it is excessively low, you may want to take your vehicle into the shop as a precautionary measure because this could be a sign that there is a hidden leak or that the brake pads are wearing down and need to be replaced.


Your windshield washer fluid may seem like the lowest priority of all the fluids your vehicle needs to run smoothly and reliably. However, you don’t want to get caught without it. It’s important to keep your windshield clean to reduce glare and drive safely.


Have Your Belts and Hoses Regularly (engine bay)

While you might already be doing everything, you can to ensure the proper maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle, there are some items you may want to have checked at the shop, for example your belts and hoses. If your drive long distances frequently, you’re giving your engine quite the workout. In turn, your belts and hoses are going to get worn down a lot faster. By replacing these items when needed, you’re going to notice you’ll notice your vehicle operating at an increased level of performance.


Check your owner’s manual to see how frequently your belts and hoses should be replaced. When you or a mechanic examines your belts, the first think you’re going to be looking for is wear. Is the belt starting to show signs of overuse, by getting thin, dry, or cracking? If this is the case, you’re risking the chance of it snapping at any given time while you’re on the road. Hoses are also not built to last forever and will become brittle over time. These should be checked regularly to ensure they are secured tightly and are not in need of a replacement.


Take Your Vehicle in For a Professional Inspection

If you’re not experienced with vehicular maintenance but still want to ensure your car is operating in tip-top condition, it’s prudent to take it in for an inspection from time to time. Even if you’ve replaced parts such as belts and hoses on your own, it is a good idea to have a professional verify that you’re using parts that are recommended for your vehicle and safe.


By completing these steps on a regular basis, you are not only ensuring your own safety and the safety of others joining you on the road, but you’ll be extending the life of your vehicle and saving money.

Written by Helen Storms