American motorists drove a record 3.22 trillion miles in 2015. Not only are Americans driving more miles, they’re also keeping their vehicles longer than before. In fact, the average length of vehicle ownership increased by 60% in the last 10 years.
All this means that you’ll need to keep on top of your car’s maintenance needs to make sure it continues to serve your needs in the years to come. And the first step in keeping your car maintained is performing basic car maintenance.
Not sure how to perform basic maintenance on your car? Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
This is what you need to know about basic car maintenance.
What Basic Car Maintenance Does Your Vehicle Need?
Regardless of what car or vehicle you own, here are some basic maintenance tips which you should know.
1. Read the Owner’s Manual
If you’re like most people, you’ve never bothered to read the owner’s manual that came with the car. This is a mistake; the manual contains a great deal of information about basic maintenance and how to perform it.
The manual will also tell you what things on your car you should check, as well as what symptoms indicate a problem with your vehicle. It will also tell you what the various warning lights on the dashboard mean which is important to know should they ever come on.
2. Inspect the Vehicle Regularly
You should routinely check your vehicle for signs of problems. From tires that are underinflated to spotting a fluid leak, identifying potential problems early is important for the safety of you and your family.
The owner’s manual will cover what things to look for during an inspection. The inspection will not only identify problems at an early stage, it will let you get to know the various parts which make up your vehicle.
3. Check Your Tires
Having properly inflated tires is an important part of basic car maintenance which maximizes fuel economy and improves the steering and braking characteristics of the car. To make sure your tires are properly inflated, you’ll need a tire pressure gauge to find out if the tires are inflated to the pressure recommended by the car manufacturer.
While you’re checking the tire pressure, you’ll also want to look at the tread depth to look for signs of wear. Worn tires will not perform well in wet or snowy conditions which could put you at risk during adverse weather.
4. Check Engine Oil Level
The vehicle’s engine oil reduces friction in the engine as it operates and prevents excessive wear and tear. You’ll want to follow the directions in the owner’s manual to locate the dipstick and check the oil level to make sure the car has enough oil to do the job.
You should also look at the color of the oil on the dipstick. It should be amber in color. Darker oil typically indicates contaminated oil which needs to be changed.
5. Check Engine Coolant Level
Your vehicle’s engine creates a lot of heat when it runs, and the engine coolant system makes sure it doesn’t get too hot. The key to the cooling system is the engine coolant which dissipates the excessive heat.
Follow the instruction manual’s directions to check the coolant reservoir and determine the engine coolant levels are proper when you perform your basic car maintenance.
6. Inspect the Engine Air Filter
Your vehicle’s engine runs on a combination of fuel and air. To keep contaminants out of your engine, the air filter screens the air and removes dirt and debris which could be harmful to your vehicle’s engine.
While the owner’s manual will tell you how often to change the filter, it’s important to inspect the air filter regularly. This is because excessive stop and go driving or dusty conditions can clog an air filter before the typical replacement mileage.
A visual inspection of the filter will allow you to see if your filter is getting dirty and needs replacement.
7. Using the Right Fuel
Your vehicle will have a recommended octane rating. You should always follow this rating when filling up.
Lower than recommended octane fuels may cause your vehicle’s engine to run poorly and produce a ‘knocking’ sound. This will reduce the vehicle’s performance.
At the same time, using a higher than recommended octane rating will not improve your vehicle’s performance and will cost you more money.
8. Inspecting Light Bulbs
The lights on your vehicle serve an important purpose by making sure you can see the road at night and others can see you. Because light bulbs burn out, it’s important to routinely check all the lights as part of basic car maintenance to make sure they are working.
Any broken bulbs can be replaced following the owner’s manual instructions. It will identify the correct replacement bulb, as well as how to change the light.
9. Inspect Windshield Wipers
Windshield wipers perform a vital function by cleaning the windshield as you drive. Having windshield wipers that don’t function properly can create a significant safety hazard during bad weather driving.
Inspecting the blades can identify worn wiper blades early on so you don’t find out about the need to replace them during a long drive in bad weather.
10. Track Your Vehicle’s Maintenance
Keeping track of when your car needs maintenance, whether it’s an oil change, tire rotation, or other services, is important.
The manufacturer will provide recommended maintenance intervals for your vehicle. This information is found in the owner’s manual.
There are many different apps that allow you to track your vehicle’s maintenance and alert you when your vehicle is due for maintenance. Of course, you can also track the maintenance schedule using the chart in the owner’s manual.
Keeping Your Car on The Road
Now you know what to look for when performing basic car maintenance.
Keeping your car running smoothly and safely is our top priority. When your car needs service, we’ve got a team of experts to take care of all your automotive service needs.
Just give us a call or go online and we’ll be happy to schedule an appointment today.