A responsible driver should always take five minutes every other week or so to check the essential parts of his or her car. If you pay proper attention to your car’s maintenance needs, you will save a lot of time, money and aggravation by avoiding some expensive repairs. Here are a few basic maintenance tips to keep your car in good shape.
Maintenance You Can Do Yourself
The following checks can extend the life of your vehicle:
|Air Filter||Check the air filter approximately every other oil change. This ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.|
|Battery||Check the battery cables and posts for corrosion and clean them if needed. Most batteries have a condition indicator that displays different colors to indicate how it’s functioning|
|Engine Belts||Inspect regularly for cracks and warn spots. Worn belts will affect the engine's performance.|
|Lights||Inspect all vehicle lights (including headlights, turn signals, brake lights and emergency flashers). Replace burnt-out bulbs.|
|Tire Inflation||Check monthly. Under inflation can waste fuel.|
|Wiper Blades||Inspect for cracks and tears. Replace yearly or sooner of needed.|
Fluids to Check Regularly
The vehicle's fluids are very important and should be checked regularly.
|Antifreeze||This check is done by removing the radiator cap from the cooled engine and refilling, if needed, with antifreeze.(Caution: make sure engine is completely cooled and you use the recommended engine coolant as identified in your owner's manual)|
|Brake Fluid||This check is done by loosening the clip on the master cylinder and removing the lid. If fluid is needed, consult your vehicle owner's manual for correct type and fill to recommended level.|
|Engine Oil||Correct engine oil level should be maintained to assure proper lubrication of your vehicle's engine. It is best to check engine oil level approximately five minutes after a fully warmed-up engine is turned off or before starting the engine after it has been sitting for a longer period of time (overnight). Remove the engine oil dipstick, wipe the dipstick clean with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. Reinsert dipstick until it fully seats in its tube. Remove dipstick and read oil level. Add oil only when the level is at or below the ADD OIL mark.|
|Transmission/Transaxle Fluid||This check should be done while the engine is running in neutral with the parking brake securely set. The transmission should be at operating temperature. Remove the dipstick, wipe clean, insert and remove again to check fluid level. (CAUTION: DO NOT OVERFILL!)|
|Windshield Washer Solvent||This check should be done by removing the cap of the reservoir and refilling with wash fluid solvent.|
Maintenance That Should be Performed by Qualified Technicians
A trained, qualified mechanic with the expertise and equipment to do the job correctly should perform most of the maintenance on your car. Always check your vehicle owner's manual and follow the service schedules for specific recommendations for your vehicle.
- Change engine oil and filter every 3,000 to 7,000 miles.
- Have engine tuned up regularly. A fouled spark plug can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
- Have the fuel filter changed every 10,000 miles to prevent rust, dirt and other impurities from entering the fuel system.
- Change the transmission fluid and filter every 15,000 to 18,000. This will protect the precision-crafted components of the transmission/transaxle. The filter removes dirt and other foreign material from the transmission/transaxle fluid.
- Change the crankcase vent filter (if your car has one) every 24,000 miles. This filter cleans the air that is exposed to the crankcase and the working components of the engine.
- Check the differential (rear-end) fluid level.
- Lubricate the chassis frequently to extend the life of the moving components of the suspension system.
- Check the suspension system regularly. This will extend the life of the vehicle's tires.
- Change the vapor canister every 24,000 miles. The vapor canister collects gas fumes from the gas tank to prevent their escape into the atmosphere. These fumes are then burned by the engine.