Friday, May 22, 2015

Five Tips For Preventative Maintenance On Your Car

Preventative maintenance is key to keeping any car running smoothly. Maintenance and general car care will extend the life of your vehicle and save you from making needless, expensive repairs. What does proper preventative car maintenance entail, however? Here are our top five tips:

Check and Change Your Oil

Whether you have to get out the dipstick or simply glance over the notifications on your car's dash, make sure you check your current mileage and adhere to a regular oil change schedule. You've likely been told a thousand times, but oil is the lubricant for your vehicle's engine and it is a critical component of the entire vehicle's operation. Most manufacturers recommend that the oil and oil filter gets swapped out approximately every 5,000 miles. Ensure that you adhere to this schedule to avoid complications, although you should consider performing this change every 3,500 to 4,000 miles.

Gauge Your Tires' Air Pressure

While maintaining proper tire pressure may not be as serious a routine as changing your oil, it's still an important aspect of preventative maintenance. Keeping your tires properly inflated will improve your fuel efficiency while also avoiding potentially more serious problems that can result from having a severely under-inflated tire. Ideal tire pressures vary from tire to tire, so check your owner's manual to know how to adjust your tire if you have a flat. Also, be aware of whether your tires are currently filled with standard air or nitrogen.

Top Off Your Miscellaneous Fluids

Fluids other than oil are also critical to the performance of any vehicle, and your car has quite a number of them. You'll want to ensure power steering, transmission, transaxle, brake, antifreeze, and even windshield wiper fluids are kept at their proper levels, as instructed by your vehicle's owner's manual.

Engine coolant should be checked at least one a year, while it's recommended that transmission fluid is attended to every 30,000 miles. Also, don't forget about brake fluid. Moisture builds up over time and can severely impact your braking system. You should also have this fluid flushed out approximately every two years.

Don't Act Like You Own a Race Car - Slow Down!

Outside of immediate safety concerns, driving quickly and pushing the pedal to the metal, so to speak, has its notable disadvantages. The United States DOE (Department of Energy) notes that it takes roughly 70 percent more horsepower to maintain a speed of 60 mph (miles per hour) than it does a speed of just 50. That's a surprising increase, and with it comes fuel efficiency concerns. However, it's not just about gas. An increase in average speed of about ten mph over time can lead to as much as a 40 percent jump in routine maintenance costs.

Have Your Engine Belts Closely Monitored

A lot of people may believe that they'll notice any serious issue with their car in time to prevent a catastrophe, but this isn't always the case. Unmonitored engine belts can wear down with little indication as to their debilitating state. Once they have worn down, they can fail in an instant with no warning. For example, a timing belt that is worn and doesn't get replaced can snap completely while you're driving. While the belt is costly to replace on its own, there can be monumental collateral damage. Even if you pull over immediately upon receiving an engine warning, a broken timing belt can wrap around the engine in such a way that it totals it, requiring you to either pony up for a new engine or face the prospect of biking to work or school.

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