Regular vehicle maintenance helps the car last longer and helps prevent major issues that could leave you stuck on the side of the road. Knowing what to check is crucial as many car owners will not know everything they should be checking to ensure the vehicle works properly. This could lead to issues being overlooked until they get a lot worse. Before you start having issues with the vehicle, make sure you’re handing maintenance tasks for all of the following parts of your car.
The Vehicle’s Emissions
In some states, drivers are required to have their vehicle checked to ensure they meet emissions standards. Make sure to check the vehicle’s emissions regularly and to stay on top of any check engine lights that may come on. Check engine lights can indicate issues with the vehicle’s emissions. Keeping an eye on the check engine lights and fixing any potential issues will help ensure you pass your yearly smog check so you don’t end up needing to quickly have costly repairs done to ensure the vehicle is up to standards.
The Oil Levels
Low oil can cause severe damage to the vehicle, so be sure to check this regularly. Find out whether the vehicle has conventional or synthetic oil in it and learn how frequently the oil needs to be changed. At least once per month, check the oil levels on the vehicle to make sure they aren’t too low. If they are low, add oil.
Though there is a tire pressure gauge to let you know when the tires are getting low, it’s important to inspect them regularly. Once a month or so, check the tire pressure manually, look for any issues with the tire, and check the tread. The penny trick can help you determine if there is enough tread on the tires or if it’s time to replace them.
The Engine Air Filter
The engine air filter should be checked regularly to make sure it’s in good condition. The vehicle’s manual should specify how often to replace the air filter but check it a little more frequently to catch potential problems as fast as possible. If it is dirty or damaged, go ahead and replace it. Check the manual to purchase the right size for the air filter and to find out how to inspect and replace it.
Don’t just listen for the brakes to start squealing. Check the brakes periodically to ensure the brake pads are still in good shape and look for any leaks. If it does look like the brake lines might be leaking, check the brake fluid reservoir and make sure it has brake fluid in it. Add some if necessary and have the brakes professionally inspected.
Though batteries work for around four years, they can start having issues much earlier. Looking at the battery can help make sure it’s still in good shape. If the connections have buildup on them, carefully clean the connections. This will help when the battery does start to die as it will be easier to jump the vehicle or to remove the old battery so a new one can be installed. It also helps the battery work properly, which means it will last a lot longer.
The Drive Belts
There are a few different belts on the vehicle and all of them should be checked regularly. Though they will make noises if they break or if they become too loose, check them regularly for signs of wear or for small amounts of loosening. If they do appear to be loose or wearing out, have them replaced before they break.
When you’re checking the vehicle’s oil levels, go ahead and check the other fluids as well. Look at the power steering fluids, transmission fluids, and the coolant to make sure there are sufficient levels of all of them. If needed, add a little bit more. If extra needs to be added, keep an eye on it to make sure it isn’t leaking out after the vehicle is driven.
The Spark Plugs
The spark plugs can wear out and cause the engine to not work as efficiently. Check the spark plugs around every 30,000 miles and replace them as needed. Information on how to check and replace the spark plugs should be in the vehicle’s manual if you want to do it on your own.
If the vehicle’s indicators are blinking rapidly when they’re turned on, it usually means light has burnt out. These are usually simple to replace, so go ahead and replace them whenever one burns out. Check headlights, tail lights, and brake lights on a regular basis to ensure they are all working properly. If any are not working, try replacing the bulb. This will fix most issues, but if the new bulb doesn’t work, it may be a wiring issue.
The Windshield Wipers
Unless it’s raining, it’s easy to forget about the windshield wipers. When it does rain, though, they’re crucial. Inspect the windshield wipers once in a while to make sure they’re working properly. If they cause streaks on the windshield, it’s time to replace them. They’re usually easy to replace, so this is something most vehicle owners can do on their own.
The Cooling System
Make sure the cooling system is working properly long before the weather gets hot. Check the coolant reservoir to make sure it has the right level of fluids and look for any potential leaks. Check the hoses as well and replace any that are damaged or cracked. If a hose is loose, tighten it to prevent possible leaks.
How long a vehicle lasts depends a lot on the maintenance done to keep it running in great shape. Follow this list to make sure you’re inspecting the vehicle on a regular basis and taking care of any maintenance issues before they become worse and lead to major repairs being required. With proper care, your vehicle should last a very long time and you should be able to continue driving it for years without major issues.