Vehicle maintenance isn’t something you want to ignore. Your vehicle takes you from point A to point B, probably every single day. So, you don’t want to be caught by a surprise vehicle breakdown!
Of course, there are some maintenance issues that even preventative measures can’t always prevent. But, there are a number of things you can do to make sure your car stays running and doesn’t leave you stranded on the side of the road.
Basic maintenance is more than just checking your fluids, though that should be something you check at least once a week, if not more (depending on your driving habits). But you should also check things like belts, brakes, wheel alignment, tire pressure and tread, and your air conditioning and heating systems.
This is something you can easily check yourself. Keep in mind that some vehicles have a single (serpentine) belt, while others can have two or more belts. You should check that the belts aren’t loose and floppy and visually inspect that they’re not missing sections of rubber, an indication they should be changed.
Serpentine belts should be changed every five years or 50,000 miles. V-belts should be changed every three years or 36,000 miles.
If you’re lucky enough to know about braking systems, you can check and change your brake pads and/or drums yourself. But, most people prefer to take their vehicle to a licensed auto mechanic to have brake work done. Brakes should be changed about every 50,000 miles.
However, if you hear the brakes making any odd noises, or notice any difference in your car’s braking ability, you should take the car in right away.
Oil keeps your vehicle’s engine parts lubricated, protecting them from damage. Besides checking your oil, you should change your oil every 3,000 miles, depending on your vehicle. Some newer, fully synthetic oils have a longer lifespan.
When your oil is changed, a new filter will also be installed. The oil filter is important to keep debris and particles out of your engine’s mechanical workings.
Your heating and air conditioning systems should each be checked once a year, preferably before you’ll be needing to use them. Air conditioning systems are generally serviced by a licensed mechanic when they have a leak and need recharging.
Your heating system relies on a radiator-type system called a heater core that draws heat from antifreeze running through the engine. Sometimes, a heater core can get clogged up with debris from the antifreeze. In this case, you’ll need someone to do a flush and refill of the system.
This should be done if you install new tires on the front or if you notice that your car’s steering wheel isn’t straight when the vehicle is driving straight. Sometimes, a hard bump can knock your wheel alignment off, so if you’re ever in doubt, it’s best to get it checked out.
You should check your tire pressure once a week, especially in weather where the temperature moves from hot to cold rapidly. You should also check your tire tread for wear. In the U.S., most states require your tires to have at least 2/32 of an inch of tread. Anything less than that, and you should go tire shopping.
Most vehicles produced from the late 1980’s to today have some kind of on-board diagnostics. Anytime you see a “check engine” light on your vehicle’s dashboard, you should get the car to a mechanic who can read the computerized code from the computer. Most of the time, this doesn’t mean there’s something seriously wrong with your vehicle, but better safe than sorry.
To learn more about some routine vehicle maintenance, you can visit https://www.pmwltd.co.uk/pages/servicing and read about some other services.
Vehicle maintenance isn’t a luxury, it should be a responsibility of every car owner. Having a vehicle properly maintained reduces the risk of some accidents and helps to guarantee that your car will always run when you need it to. Don’t wait until it’s too late!