Anyone who owns a car has every intention of getting the most out of their vehicle. Among other things, this means keeping it in drivable condition for as long as possible. Yet many carowners simply don’t take the measures necessary to maximize the lifespan of their vehicle, and, as a result, they encounter serious mechanical problems that could have been avoided with a little preventive maintenance. Many people understand the importance of preventive maintenance. In practice, however, many people let things slide. Part of the problem is the understandable human urge to hold on to their money, but preventive maintenance doesn’t cost a substantial amount of money—and it pays off in the long term by averting more expensive bills down the road. Having said that, we’re left with this question: What should yourpreventive auto maintenance program include? What exactly needs to be done to ensure thatyour car will remain road-ready? Below we’ll list some suggestions that have been widelyshown to be highly effective in promoting good car health.
Check Your Owner’s Manual
One of the most important pieces of equipment in your car isn’t under your hood—it’s in your glove compartment. We’re referring to your owner’s manual, which is full of make- and model-specific information about the vehicle you drive. What kind of fuel does the manufacturer recommend? Can you use chains on your tires in snowy conditions without voiding the warranty? The answers to these questions and many more should be within the pages of your owner’s manual, and that’s all the reason you need to become acquainted with it.
Check Your Tire Pressure
Here’s one issue whose importance tends to be seriously underestimated. Underinflated tires wear out faster than properly inflated ones. Poor tire pressure also contributes to poor gas mileage. By the same token, however, you need to make sure that your tires aren’t overinflated—that increases your risk of a blowout, which is not something you want to experience while traveling 70 mph down the highway. You need to keep your tires inflated according to manufacturer specifications. If you need help with your tire pressure, you are welcome to stop by Integrity Automotive and one of our technicians can assist you free of charge. No appointment necessary, just call us before you head over.
Rotate Your Tires
While we’re on the subject of tires, you should try to have them rotated periodically. If you’re not clear on what this means, the practice of tire rotation involves taking off each tire and putting it back in another location: e.g., switching the left and right tires. The purpose of this is to ensure that the tires sustain wear evenly, which extends their lifespan.
Change Your Oil
For decades, car owners were bombarded with the message that their vehicle’s oil needed to be replaced every 3000 miles or every three months, whichever came first. The good news is that, in general, cars really don’t need oil service quite that frequently. So, how often should you have your oil changed? It all depends on the make and model of your vehicle. For the most part, however, cars can get away with an oil change every six months or 5000 miles—although, again, spending a lot of time in stop-and-go traffic or other tough driving conditions means you should bring in your car sooner than that. Between changes, it’s a good idea to check the oil periodically to spot any problems that might be developing, like a slow leak that gradually depletes oil levels.
Change Your Windshield Wipers
This isn’t as important as the other maintenance tasks we’ve mentioned, but it’s so easy and inexpensive to carry out that there’s no real excuse for not doing it. If your wipers are leaving streaks across the windshield, it’s time to get them replaced. Poorly functioning wipers pose a safety risk, as they can’t effectively clear liquids and particulate matter from your windshield, impairing your vision as you drive.
Change Your Driving Habits
This is another example of a change that doesn’t require any kind of mechanical knowledge. If you want to minimize wear and tear to your vehicle, you need to exercise sound driving habits. This includes slowing down as you approach speed bumps and avoiding excessive speed. Many drivers don’t even realize that their car and its various components sustain more wear at higher speeds, and over time this causes premature mechanical aging.
Change Your Timing Belt
If your timing belt fails while you’re out driving, you could be in for some serious repairs—not only will you have to the replace the belt, but you may have to fix other components damaged by its sudden failure. Consult your owner’s manual for your replacement schedule. Then, make an appointment at Integrity Automotive so we can take care of this for you.
Change Your Engine’s Air Filter
The air filter is another component whose maintenance schedule will depend on the manufacturer’s recommendation in your owner’s manual. Bear in mind that frequent driving in harsh conditions, like dirt roads, will clog up your air filter fairly quickly. Generally, however, when you come in for an oil change our technicians will let you know the next maintenance needs for your vehicle. So, if you’re unsure of when to change your air filter, you won’t need to worry as we will take great care of your vehicle’s needs.
Fill Up the Engine Coolant
Coolant is the fluid responsible for keeping your engine from melting down from excessive heat while in use, and, for obvious reasons, this is not something to be ignored. It’s important to make sure this is something that is taken care of at any oil change interval. At Integrity Automotive, we automatically check all fluids and filters and top off anything needed for your vehicle. If you have a leak, we will let you know if we see anything. But on regular occasion you should be mindful to check underneath the car to see any drips left from overnight. Depending on the color of the liquid left behind, it may be an issue to discuss with your technician at Integrity Automotive.
Check Your Battery
As a rule of thumb, car batteries should be replaced every four or five years, so if yours is in that age range, you need to keep an eye on it and prepare yourself to purchase a new one. It would be wise to have your vehicle brought in to Integrity Automotive for a starting and charging test. It’s an inexpensive way to find out the life that’s left in your battery and help you make a decision for what you should do next.