Preventative maintenance isn’t just good for personal health, it’s also necessary in car care to avoid breakdowns and costly repairs. Items like routine wiper blade replacement, changing fluids and tuneups will increase the life of your vehicle and allow your service technician to spot potential problems ahead of time. Most of us know that you should have your oil changed on a regular basis, but there are some car care basics that many people overlook.
Most of us only perform a vehicle spot check when we are alerted to a problem, like when another driver pulls alongside you and alerts you that you have a tail light out or a tire is going flat. At one a week you should do a visual check of your car or truck’s exterior. Things to look for include:
Worn tire treads/low tires
You should examine your vehicle on a flat surface – from all angles – to look for tilting or leaning, and check your normal parking spot for signs of brake fluid, transmission fluid and anti-freeze.
Checking Your Engine
Even if you’re not mechanically inclined, many problems under the hood leave tell-tale signs that almost anyone can recognize as a problem. Regular checks also give you an idea of what your engine and components should look like when they’re functioning properly, so any differences will be more apparent. What you’re looking for here are:
Signs of oil or other fluids on engine parts
Fluid levels in brake reservoir, radiator and power steering reservoir
Wear or signs of fraying on belts and wires
Accumulation of excessive dirt and debris
Replacing Wearable Parts
In addition to checking for visible damage and leaks, some wearable parts should be changed or replaced regularly. These include:
Oil and air filters
Windshield wiper blades
Head, tail and brake lights
Another component that you should examine – and not only for replacement – are the spark plugs and wires. What you find in your spark plug chamber may alert you to very serious problems with your engine. A healthy engine will contain a little oil residue on the spark plugs, as this supplies the lubrication your engine needs in order to function. However, if it’s filled with oil, it’s a sign that your valve cover gasket needs to be replaced. If you find oil that’s a muddy color, it means that anti-freeze is leaking in due to a blown head gasket or cracked engine block. Any of these problems are a fire hazard and could cause your engine to fail.
Pennsylvania tire rotation centers usually also provide a range of routine service and maintenance duties; some car clubs offer discounts for routine servicing needs like regular oil changes. You can speak to a service manager at your local auto shop, car dealership or car club representative for more information.