Did you know that
5 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities are known to result from some form of automobile maintenance neglect? Don’t become another statistic, do the smart thing and keep your automobile in good running
The following preventive
checks will not only extend the life of your automobile, ensure a safer operation and even benefit the environment; but more
importantly, they may actually save your life or the life of a love one. They
are simple and inexpensive to follow; however, these maintenance requirements do vary depending on the manufacture so always
consult the vehicle owner's manual for individual service schedules.
Oil/Oil Filter Change: This
is the most frequent part of your automotive maintenance. Always consult with your owner’s manual, but short of that a good rule of thumb is to have the oil and oil filter
changed regularly, every 3,000 to 4,000 miles. If
using synthetic oil, then you may extend that to 5,000 miles or 6 months. Again,
consult your owner’s manual.
Have all fluids checked: This includes the brakes, power steering, transmission/transaxle,
antifreeze or radiator coolants and the windshield washer solvent. These fluids
all play a large role in the safety and performance of your vehicle and are perhaps the most neglected form of car care.
Both the Brake and Power Steering Fluids should always be at their appropriate levels, and are an easy check around the back
of your engine bay. If they look dirty, or for whatever reason are below
their low mark, then it’s time for a refill.
Transmission fluid keeps your transmission lubricated
and prevents corrosion and rust. Most manufacturers recommend changing the transmission
fluid once every 30,000 to 60,000 miles; consult your owner’s manual. If
the auto shifting in your car isn’t as smooth as it should be, it’s a good indication that a maintenance check
Windshield washer solvent should be refilled as needed.
radiator coolants should be checked at least every 12 months; again, consult your owner’s
Check tire inflation for
proper pressure: This is the least expensive form of both preventive and safety maintenance. Properly
inflated tires are essential for safe driving and long tire life; they also have an impact your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
Always remember that warm air expands as temperature rises. This fact will have a direct impact on your tire pressure, especially during the warm summer months.
Tire pressures will rise 1-2 PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10 degree increase in outside air temperature. Tire
pressures should be checked once a month but only when they are cold i.e. when they have not recently been driven on.
According to the
U.S. Department of Energy, properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage for most drivers by 3.3 percent. This translates to nearly 8 additional miles per tank-full for an average SUV or nearly 10 miles per fill
up for an average passenger car.
Tire Rotation: Your front and back
tires will experience different rates of wear on different parts of their treads. With proper tire rotation at every
5,000-8,000 miles, this wear should be uniformly dispersed across their tread surface. At this time also check for proper tire pressure.
Keep your engine tuned: A fouled spark plug or plugged/restricted fuel injector can adversely
affect gas mileage
by as much as 30 percent. Your owner’s manual should specify
when the spark plugs will need to be changed. Depending on the type of spark
plug used, this could be anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
Check battery cables and posts: Check for corrosion and clean as needed. At this time the battery fluid should also be checked and
filled if it is low. A fluid check does not apply in the case of maintenance-free
Chassis lubrication: This
step extends the life of moving components for the vehicle's suspension system. Chassis
lube used to be a standard part of car care packages sold at oil/lube shops. However,
with the more common use of higher grade, soft, pliable rubber in various sections of newer cars, they no longer need it,
or at least not as frequently. There is no downside to applying chassis lube,
but be aware that many lube shops will no longer apply chassis lube even if it is part of their “premium” package.
Again, consult your owner’s manual and insure your
maintenance tech does the same.
Have the lighting system checked frequently: This includes headlights, turn signals, and brake and tail
lights. It is always best to be safe and not sorry.
Inspect engine belts regularly: Worn belts will affect your engine’s performance. An inspection of your timing belt
should be done every 10,000 miles. However, if nothing is wrong with it, it doesn’t
have to be changed. Minor spider cracks on the surface of the belt are okay,
but if a visual scan reveals severe cracks or broken teeth, then it’s time for a new belt. Failure to do so can result
in hefty damages. These belts should also be changed at the manufacturer’s recommended mileage.
Have the air filtration
system checked frequently: The air filter should be checked approximately
every other oil change for clogging or signs of damage. A good clean air system
is required to ensure your vehicle is performing at its peak condition.
Windshield wipers: These should be replaced at least twice a year. They’re cheap and easy
to do yourself. In fact, most auto parts stores will replace them for you as
a free service at time of purchase.
Everything from the brake pads, to brake rotors, right on down to and including
the brake fluid should be monitored. There is no set time interval or mileage
limits as to when a brake pad might need replacing. It is largely affected by your individual driving style. In
other words, how hard you brake and how frequently. Replacement can be anywhere
from 20,000 to 40,000 miles. Brake fluid should always be at the appropriate
Since manufacturer maintenance requirements do vary greatly, it is always wise to consult with your
vehicle owner's manual for individual service schedules.