Ever came across an old high-mileage car of your uncle, grandparents or neighbors, which keeps running smoothly year after year? You might go crazy wondering about the secret of that 1970s or close to vintage vehicle trucking on the roads vs. your three to two year old short-lived hulk presenting you bills for repairs every now and then.
Most of us get tricked by the tremendously polished infomercials of miracle liquids, mysterious polymers, enchanted dust for car paints or ionized marvel water for interiors that claim to keep cars shiny and everlasting.
Regrettably, in reality, there is no pixie dust or miracle automotive fairy (like tooth fairies) that would gift your car with self-healing super power. The secret lies in not just the model of the latter or the car care products either, but in a regular and pious maintenance routine! Before we dive into the details of such a routine it is important to know the basic prerequisites of car maintenance.
Whenever we buy a new gadget like a phone or a tablet, we try to spend some time on exploring it. Similar is the case with your car; the more you get inquisitive about it the better you understand its functioning. The owner’s manual is your ultimate savior that contains all the basic car maintenance details along with the information about when to perform them. With regular inspections you can easily assess different parts of your car yourself by following the checklist shared below and call for professional help only in case something looks amiss and advanced tool or extra human help is required.
If you have major issues like malfunctioning essential parts, flat tires or windshield damage then find professional services for the repairs or in case of windshield replacement search “windshield replacement near me”.
Understanding Warning Signals – Dashboard Light Indicators
Modern sensors and warning mechanisms in your car can provide insights that even a meticulous assessment could miss. Make sure you understand the meaning of the lights flashed by indicators like:
● Service engine light-nearing scheduled car maintenance
● Check engine light-monitors cars motor
● OBD-II interface
● Anti-braking system warning light-needs specific professional tools for repair ,
● Coolant warning light
● Electrical fault light
● Oil warning light
Now that we got to know about the prerequisites, let us also get familiarized with what to look for and when to look. Below is the car maintenance checklist to be referred to by you/mechanic:
● Regular – Dashboard indicator lights, vehicle lights, tire inflation and condition, windshield washer fluid and engine oil level.
● Every 3 Months – Items in regular checkup plus automatic transmission fluid, battery, cables, belts, engine air filter, exhaust, hoses and power steering fluid.
● Every 6 months -All of above items plus chassis lubricant and wiper blades.
● Every 9 months-Same as the items listed for every 3 months.
● Every 12 months-All of the above plus brakes, cabin air filter, coolant (antifreeze), steering, suspension and wheel alignment.
Now that we are all set with the prerequisites and checklists, let us glance at the comprehensive list of car maintenance focusing on car parts that will help you maintain your car in a top shape:
1. Vehicle Lights Maintenance:
● Indicator bulbs are the most neglected fixtures; however, they are vital because these indicator lights guide fellow drivers about your direction of movement or whether you would like to switch between lanes. Broken indicator bulbs are easy to replace as modern lighting modules come with easy fixtures; provided it is specific to vehicle’s make. So ensure that your indicator lights are not blown off for any reason.
● Bulbs are prepared with specialized coating that heat up and may catch dust and grime. So, be careful while replacing damaged bulbs.
2. Maintaining the Engine:
● Drive belts -Engine is the heart of your vehicle that pumps energy into each and every part that relies on mechanical power. Drive belts transfer energy from crankshaft to power steering pump, air pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor etc. Frequent visual checks help to locate hairline cracks and other breakage aspects of the drive belt. So, instead of blindly following mileage guidelines for replacement, you can save costs by following average maintenance and avoiding hefty repairs.
● Oil levels-Engine oil monitors frictions of mechanical moving parts that generate heat. To maintain fuel economy (You can use free mobile apps to monitor fuel economy)at a desired level, engine oil level should be checked in a timely manner. The correct way to do it is to pull out the dipstick, cleaning it with a rug and then again dipping it in oil. Verify the indicator levels (H and L) and color of oil. Darker oil means more heat and at the worst, presence of sludge.
● Engine Coolant Level – To avoid engine from overheating, one must monitor the coolant level before hitting the road. The coolant reservoirs are translucent and have level marking making it easy to check visually. In order to locate it you might have to refer to your car owner’s user manual.
● Spark Plug-Iridium spark plugs need to be replaced after every 100,000 miles and other plugs after every 30,000 miles. With proper tools, it is easy to replace a spark plug but if you are not confident feel free to get a professional.
● Engine Air Filter- First-rate mix of air and fuel are one of the most major determining factors for engines operational efficiency. A mediocre air filter may cause issue like reduced horsepower or engine misfire so it is advisable to replace engine air filters as per recommendations in owner’s manual and only for genuine reasons.
3. Fuel /Gas Related Maintenance:
Although higher octane rating fuel implies higher power, you can save cost by using regular gasoline if your manufacturer doesn’t specifically recommend high octane premium gas. Remember not all but very few car engines are designed to require premium quality gas.
4. Wheels and Tires:
● Tire pressure – It impacts comfort, handling and also fuel economy. Therefore it is essential to check tire pressures on weekly basis. You can use mobile app assisted smart gadget or factory installed monitoring system that sends notification if air pressure drops in any of the tires.
● Tire Tread – Wider contact pattern of tire tread increases tires rubber versatility as it needs to provide optimum contact with road surface whether dry, wet or freezing cold. Modern cars come with tread wear indicators but you can easily get one if it’s not inbuilt in your car. This will save money over accidental expenses.
● Free Wheels Regularly From Brake Dust – Brake dust originates from brake pad and brake rotor sticks electro-statically and makes your tires look dirty. It usually is made up of iron particles and small amount of carbon that, with time, stains the wheels. This process could be pretty fast if you live in a sunny place.
● Wheel Balancing and Alignment-Get the tires rotated to check any wheel imbalance and alignment issues as it affects the fuel economy.This should be done as per miles suggested by manufacturer in your owner’s manual.
5. Paint or Bodywork Related Maintenance:
● Everyone dreams of keeping their car appearance near showroom condition even after years of driving. Falling and faded paint is definitely not an appealing fixture to anyone. Also, bird poop and falling fruits on a car parked under a tree are painful to clean. These types of dirt often contain chemicals that may stain the paint.
● Use car detailing waxes and polishes as recommended by manufacturer instead of going for high-end products that claim to protect paints.
6. Electrical Parts Maintenance:
● Whenever it comes to replacing batteries you first need to disconnect them. First disconnect negative terminals as this prevents chances of short circuits. If you need to reconnect batteries in order to work on any electrical components, first connect positive terminals.
● Mostly batteries are labeled maintenance-free, but battery terminals can be corrosive and buildup minerals. To prolong battery life, use cleaning brushes designed specifically for battery terminals cleaning and dust off the mineral build ups.
7. Other Important Parts:
● Car Interiors- Use UV protecting/window deflector screen to prevent the plastic and vinyl of car interiors from drying out.
● Grease the wheel bearing as per service intervals to avoid cost on spindle and hub replacement.
● Replace brake fluid and bleed the system once a year as the brake fluid’s hygroscopic nature captures moisture. This will save maintenance costs on expensive hoses, calipers and sensors.
● Lubricate every moving part of the vehicle like driveline components and ”U” joints.
● Replace power steering oil, transmission fluid and gear oil on regular service intervals.
● Cabin filter replacement is suggested every year or after 12,000 miles to prevent allergic airborne particles.
● Squeaking windshield wipers need replacement as they affect visibility of the road. Also, windshields can be cleaned from inside and outside while doing so.
With the above tips, the handy owner’s manual and technology to monitor car maintenance via apps like Autocare, aCar , etc. you will not only own a good looking and great running vehicle but also cut the cost and save apparent heartburns in the long run!