Regular maintenance is crucial to a car’s long and healthy life. Instead of neglecting it, risking it to break down while on the road, and spending money on repairs (which can cost a small fortune), you should take care of it as your car is probably one of the largest investments in your life. And there’s no need to take it to a car shop every few months just to have it inspected, because there are many simple tips and hacks you should know in order to inspect it yourself, and save yourself some time and money. Prevent from running into trouble in the future with these easy maintenance tips.
#1 Inspect Battery
Battery issues are some of the most frequent causes of car breakdowns, especially during the winter when batteries drain more quickly because of low temperatures. How to check whether your car battery is in good shape? Make sure that the cables and terminals are tight free of corrosion. You may need to change your car battery if you hear grinding or clicking sounds when your car starts, your headlights are dim, and the battery is more than 3 years old.
#2 Monitor Car Fluids
Car fluids, such as clutch fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and motor oil are quite easy to check. Grab your car’s owner’s manual to locate fluid reservoirs and see how to get an accurate reading on them. If the fluid looks too used or a dipstick is reading too low, than you should do a full change or add more fluid. As for the type of fluid to use, many cars have specific requirements. Don’t cheap out on them, and always have some of the fluids in your car in case you need to add or change it on the road. Fluid manufacturers like Nulon offer various fluids for long term engine treatment, oil flushes, engine oils and protective fluids, all of which you can use for treating your car properly.
#3 Check Your Tires
Modern cars are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems, but there’s always some skepticism about the accuracy of the PSI readings. So, a tire pressure gauge should always be kept in the car’s trunk. Open your owner’s manual to see the recommended tire pressure for your car, and make sure the readings aren’t too off from it. Also, if your tire tread is uneven or low, this could change how your vehicle tracks and handles, so give a look at how the tread is going. Tip: monitor tread depths by placing a coin inside it – if the head is easily visible, you should buy new tires.
#4 Car Lights
Call a friend to help you with this. Have him sit inside the car, pressing the brakes and using the turn signals while you walk around the car the check whether all lights are working properly. There’s no reason to get a traffic ticket because of a bad brake light or a bad tail light. You can check your headlights by parking in front of a garage or wall door (about two car lengths away) and shining your lights on the surface. Low beams should beam the light on the wall at the height of your head rests, so you should how to adjust them (both left and right light) so they are evenly set.
#5 Wiper Blades
Wiper blades should be checked at least every 6 months, and they are the easiest to inspect. If you notice that your wipers have begun to make a new noise or leave streaks on the windscreen while you’re driving, it’s time to replace them. However, checking them routinely, while washing the car, is the safest option, before their lousy condition impairs your vision during a drive on a bad weather. If you notice tears or cracks on the rubber, it’s time for new wiper blades.
When it comes to belts, you should check them for fraying and cracks, as these are the signs of damage or wear. A good belt should have no cracks, make no noises, and fit tightly. In order to soft squeaking belts, you can use belt conditioner (but this is only a temporary fix). The noises will resume once the belt becomes brittle and dry again, and regular use of belt conditioner will prevent drying and slippage, prolonging the belt’s life.
Don’t wait your engine to overheat or extreme weather to hit to check your coolant. The coolant shouldn’t be contaminated and always filled to the right level. If you frequently need to fill the system or notice floating oil spots, it means that there’s a leak somewhere. In order to ensure a healthy and long life of your car’s entire cooling system, you should use only approved filling and check your coolant level frequently. Avoid using liquid sealants and additives, because they could damage other parts of the system and prolong the problem.
Things can get bad if you don’t take regular care of your car, especially if you leave it sitting for a longer period of time. The rust accumulates, rubber parts dry up, and fluids start to leak. Eventually, a raccoon may find your car suitable for a new home. Turn the car on from time to time and give it some use, at least every 2-3 weeks.