Car maintenance is essential for your vehicle to maximize its performance and life. You can do several things yourself to make your car run smoothly. In addition, a well-maintained car can surely cut down on expensive costs that come with car maintenance and repair. Continue reading the article below to learn some basic maintenance and repair tips.
Essential Maintenance & Repair Tips
While keeping your vehicle running properly and caring for, it does take effort; you don’t need to be an expert to maintain your car. However, here are a few tips you can follow for your car maintenance and repair.
1. Oil Change & Oil Filter
Oil is a critical component of a vehicle, serving many functions. It not only lubricates the engine’s moving parts but also cools the engine, minimizes engine wear, and prevents engine corrosion. On the other hand, the oil filter ensures continuous oil flow between parts by removing particles.
Action: Keep the oil filter clean. Typically it would help if you replaced it every second time you change your oil or when you find signs of wear. Change engine oil between 7,500 to 10,000 miles or as your car manufacturer recommends. Always use the best engine oil brand, and never compromise on your engine’s performance.
2. Engine Oil Level
As mentioned earlier, oil is an essential component of a vehicle’s engine. The engine needs a constant supply of oil to run smoothly and reduce mechanical erosion of the engine’s components. However, low levels of oil can cause damage to the engine.
Action: Check engine oil levels once a month, or a few gas refills, especially before going on long road trips. Several cars also have indicators that will light up and show “MIN” when the oil level is low. Refill it as soon as the indicator lights up.
3. Windshield Wipers & Fluid
Another component of your car that you should maintain is the windshield wipers. They are responsible for letting you see clearly in rain, snow, ice, hail, and even mud and dirt. With them, you can stay safe on the road.
Action: You should keep your windshield washer reservoir filled with washer fluid. Please don’t add water; it may damage the system and not clear dirt effectively. Also, only run the windshield washer with fluid in the tank. Also, change wipers every 6 to 12 months, as the wiper’s rubber starts deteriorating.
4. Tire Pressures
Tire pressure inspection is necessary from time to time, as low pressure can make your tires less stable and lose their traction and grip. Moreover, underinflated tires greatly increase fuel consumption and braking distances and can affect steering and handling.
Action: Make a routine to check air pressure at least once a week. Some cars also have indicators for tire pressure. If the indicator lights up, it means at least one of the tires has less air.
5. Tire Rotation and Alignment
The next thing you should focus on is tire rotation and alignment. Wheel balancing and alignment are crucial to improving a car’s fuel efficiency and road safety. Rotating tires help expand its service life and prevent noise and vibration problems.
Action: On average, you should rotate your vehicle’s tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles or as your car’s manufacturer recommends.
6. Tread Depth
Tread depth is a vertical measurement between the tread rubber’s depth and the bottom of the tire’s deepest grooves. Tread is important, as it grips the road while driving. Your car can lose traction and suffer increased braking times if it is not deep enough.
Action: Check the tread of all four tires to diagnose potential problems. Check them at least once a month or before and after long journeys. Worn-out tires are more likely to put you at risk of hydroplaning in wet road conditions and while sliding on snow or ice.
7. Flat Tires
There can be several reasons for tires to go flat, including bad road conditions, being punctured by a sharp object, damage to the valve system, a ripped tire, etc. However, don’t try to drive on a flat tire, as it can decrease your car’s handling and damage the wheels, brakes, and alignment.
Action: Always keep a spare tire in your car. Replace your tire as soon as you find your tire has gone flat.
8. Air & Cabin Filter Replacement
Ensure that your car’s air filters are in working order, as an old air filter may cause a weird smell to your cabin. Just like other components of your vehicle, such as oil filters, windshield wipers, etc., air filters need replacement.
Action: Typically, you should inspect the car’s air filter once a year or every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. However, this number may vary based on your car and driving environment. For example, if you drive in a dusty environment, you might need to change it more frequently.
The battery is an essential part of your car since it provides power to your engine while starting. In addition, it provides electrical current to the starter and other parts of the engine, such as the control unit or ignition coils. If your battery doesn’t charge, it won’t provide power, and your car engine won’t start.
Action: Inspect your car battery at least twice a year or as the owner’s manual recommends. Batteries also need to be replaced. Change your car battery every 4 to 5 years or when it starts providing less power to the engine.
10. Brake System
Brake system is a critical component of the car as it ensures a safe and comfortable ride. However, this system also needs your attention. Insufficient brake fluid or worn brake pads can pose a serious risk of failing the brakes.
Action: You should get your brake system inspected every six months or more frequently if you drive aggressively. Also, get brake fluid checked at least once a year and change it every two years.
11. Disconnecting Battery
Disc disconnecting a battery is important, as any misconnection can lead to a short circuit. However, it is about more than just disconnecting terminals and loosening bolts.
Action: When disconnecting, remove the negative terminal first and then the positive. When reconnecting is concerned, do the opposite; connect the positive first and then the negative.
12. Light Indicators
Light indicators are there for a reason. Every car has its own set of indicators, which may vary depending on the make and model of the car. The color of the indicator light indicates how urgent it is to take action.
- Red light indicates issues and malfunctions and requires immediate action.
- Orange or yellow is less urgent than red but should be checked as soon as possible.
- Green refers to an activated function.
- Blue refers to the high beam, whereas white indicates a hind or any recommendation.
You can learn more about it in your car’s manual.
13. Transmission Fluid
Like engine oil, the transmission fluid is an oil responsible for minimizing friction between the transmission parts and keeping them moving and working properly.
Action: You should get your transmission fluid checked at least once a month. Moreover, getting this fluid changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles or as your car manufacturer recommends is recommended.
Airbags are an essential safety component in many cars that protect occupants from hitting the vehicle’s interior or object outside the vehicle in the event of any collision.
Action: If your airbags aren’t working, you will see an airbag indicator turned on on your dashboard. Get the system checked by a professional to avoid any inconvenience. Also, it is recommended to check the airbag system ten years from the manufacturer date and after that every two years.
15. Cooling System and Coolant Fluid Exchange
The cooling system is an engine component that ensures the optimum operating temperature. If any of the cooling system’s parts or the entire system fails, it can cause the engine to overheat, leading to other serious issues.
Action: You should get your coolant system, and radiator inspected every 12 months or every 12,000 miles. Inspect the fluid at least every 6 months. Moreover, it would help if you got your coolant flushed and replaced it with fresh fluid every two years or 30,000 miles.
16. Coolant Temperature Sensor & Warning Light
A coolant temperature sensor in your car will indicate whenever the temperature is getting too high for the engine and immediate action is required. Likewise, a warning light will come on when the engine is overheating.
Action: Turn off the engine immediately and wait for the engine to cool down. After that, add appropriate coolant and water if required. If the engine continues to overheat, get it checked by a professional.
17. Vehicle Wax
While vehicle wax is unnecessary, it can preserve your car’s paint by creating a barrier against pollution, sap, or bird droppings.
- Apply a thin, even coat of good-quality wax on your car’s surface with a damp sponge.
- Use a soft cotton or microfiber cloth to remove the wax after drying.
- Wax your vehicle every three months for maximum protection.
18. Tire Exchange
As mentioned earlier, tires are important for your vehicle to maintain grip and traction. Conversely, worn-out tires lose their grip on the road, leading to severe safety problems.
Action: Get your tires rotated as soon as you find signs of wear. It is recommended to replace tires every six to ten years. The legal safety standards in the U.S. recommend replacing tires if the tire’s tread doesn’t meet the 2/32″ standard.
19. Reverse Camera
The reverse camera in your car is responsible for helping you see what is behind the car to prevent any collision. It can prevent injury as well as any damage to your car. However, a blurry or faulty reverse camera can hinder your vision.
Action: If you see a blurry image on your screen, try cleaning the reverse camera with a soft microfiber cloth. If this works, the connection has been fixed. Get it checked by a mechanic to repair any damage.
20. Spark Plugs
Spark plugs ignite your engine’s air and gas mixture to power your vehicle. If they are working properly, they will provide sufficient power to the engine and run at impeccable power.
Action: Get the spark plugs checked by a professional if you suspect a power reduction in your engine. Replace spark plugs between 80,000 to 100,000 miles.
21. Blown Fuse
A car fuse is a metal wire strip used to protect the electrical equipment and wiring for the vehicle. It can melt if a strong current passes through it, interrupting the flow of current and breaking the circuit. If you find something electronic isn’t working, such as power windows, stereo, or lights, a blown a fuse can be the reason.
- If you suspect a blown fuse, turn off your vehicle and locate the fuse box.
- Remove the blown fuse and replace it with a new fuse of the correct amperage.
- Consult your owner’s manual in this regard.
22. Battery Replacement
While a battery is an essential car component, a discharged battery can affect the engine’s performance. This is because it gives power to your car’s electrical circuit and the engine when you start your car. Therefore, if your battery has completely discharged, you must replace it.
Action: Select a high-quality battery from a reputable battery brand. Get it replaced when you experience continuous inconvenience while starting your car. It is recommended to replace the car battery every 4 to 5 years.
23. Power-Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid is used in the steering system, creating a hydraulic link between the front and steering wheels. It decreases the amount of effort needed to turn the wheels. If the fluid is low, you might face difficulty turning the wheels.
Action: Check the power steering fluid once a month to ensure sufficient fluid in the reservoir. Replace it roughly every 30,000 to 60,000 miles or about 3 to 5 years.
24. Engine Cleaning
Cleaning the engine is essential, as it helps identify problems in the engine that might harm your vehicle’s performance. Also, leaks, cracks, and other problems are easier to spot in a clean engine.
Action: Clean your engine at least every year or two with engine cleaning products. Follow directions carefully and protect sensitive engine parts, such as air intake, distributor, and electrical parts.
25. Serpentine Belt
While the serpentine belt might look like a piece of rubber, it is essential to keep your car running smoothly by powering remote devices in your engine, such as the power steering pump, alternator, and air conditioner compressor.
Action: Ideally, a serpentine belt lasts between 60,000 to 100,00 miles. You should inspect it every 50,000 to 60,000 miles. It is recommended to replace the belt when damaged or every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
26. Car Exterior
Protecting your car’s exterior from everyday dirt and grime is essential. Your car’s paint starts deteriorating over time, which happens even faster when you park in the sun or dusty terrain.
Action: Buy a car cover as soon as you buy a car. Cover it when you need to park it somewhere in the sun or dusty area.
27. Leather Car Seats
While leather car seats are durable and don’t require much maintenance, they can become soiled after a few years. So cleaning them is essential to prevent any dirt buildup.
Action: Use a leather cleaner to clean your car seats at least once a month or whenever you notice dirt buildup on the seats.
28. Door & Window Seals
Like any other component, door and window seals start deteriorating over time. Faulty seals can let water in, causing damage to the car’s interior.
Action: Wipe silicon or rubber protectant on the door and window weatherstripping to keep them in good condition. While most seals last 10 years, you can consider inspecting them every five years.
29. Interior Cleaning
Your car’s interior also needs cleaning, as surface dust and trash can build dirt and grime inside the car, causing the car to smell bad.
Action: You should thoroughly clean your car’s interior once a month and wipe away surface dust regularly. Throw off any trash from the vehicle.
30. PCV Valve
The PCV valve is an emission control device present in the engines of older cars. It recirculates partially burned gasses from the crankcase of the engine to the combustion chamber. A faulty PCV valve can lead to engine contamination, oil leaks, and sludge buildup.
Action: Consult your owner’s manual to check if your vehicle has a PCV valve. Get it cleaned or replaced between 20,000 to 50,000 miles.