Life can easily let proper car maintenance fall to the wayside. Work alone leaves little time to schedule even a regular oil change. Throw in the kids’ soccer games, a random happy hour with friends, and “semi-regular” trips to the gym, and each can add up to a car in desperate need of care.
The Basics of Car Maintenance
Car maintenance is all about the little things. In fact, some of the best practices for maintaining a car are so small that they’re often overlooked but will have a huge impact on the life and value of a vehicle. Here are just a few of the critical items to include on your car maintenance checklist:
1. Read your owner’s manual.
Only 29% of people read the entire owner’s manual for their vehicles. Make sure to count yourself as one of the few, as the manual contains a lot of valuable information about your vehicle, including a car maintenance schedule for all recommended services.
2. Learn what the dashboard can tell you.
Green, blue, orange, yellow, and red. Today’s dashboards offer a rainbow of information about what’s wrong — and what’s right — with your car. It’s kind of like a crib sheet for your owner’s manual, so it just makes sense to learn what each symbol means.
3. Know the dirty truth about oil.
Once upon a time, proper car maintenance led you to change your oil every 3,000 miles. If your car uses conventional motor oil, this still holds true. With synthetic oil, however, the intervals are now anywhere between 5,000 and 7,500 miles, depending on the age of the vehicle and driving conditions.
4. Replace the air filter.
Though it varies by manufacturer, replace the engine’s air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles — or right around every third oil change. Just make sure to have the filter inspected at least once a year, as driving conditions will impact its life expectancy.
5. Check fluid levels at regular intervals.
Even if you go in every 5,000 miles or so for an oil change, it’s just good car maintenance to check the oil level every month. Do the same with the coolant and wiper fluids. With the transmission and power steering fluids, you can go a little longer. Check each of those every three months.
6. Get in the habit of checking tire pressure.
The right tire pressure for the make and model of your car does more than minimize the wear and tear on your tires; it also improves vehicle safety, boosts fuel efficiency, and helps maintain proper alignment. Check tire pressure with some regularity.
7. Rotate tires routinely.
Tire rotation is a task commonly left off the car maintenance schedule, with car owners often waiting until they receive reminders from service providers. Though the timing will depend largely on the vehicle, age of tires, and driving conditions, a good rule of thumb is about 7,500 miles between rotations — that, or every six months.
8. Don’t neglect your car battery.
The last thing you need is to be late for an appointment, only to find that your car won’t turn over. While the life of a car battery isn’t what it once was, most manufacturers will tell you to make an appointment for a battery performance test every six months.
9. Pay attention to your wiper blades.
No matter how much you spend on wiper blades, they’ll degrade with time. They’re just rubber, after all. Keep an eye on them as they age. But consider adding an annual — if not semiannual — wiper blade replacement to your car maintenance schedule.
10. Inspect brake pads.
Car and Driver put it best: “With car maintenance, there are important parts and crucial parts. Brake pads are crucial parts.” As with the maintenance schedule for any other part of a vehicle, the intervals for switching out brake pads will vary by manufacturer. But the pads and shoes generally last for upwards of 30,000 miles in urban use.
11. Go in for an ignition inspection.
The life of your spark plugs can vary greatly, but around the 30,000-mile mark is when to start checking — which is around the time when most automakers recommend going in for an ignition inspection for cars with electronic ignition modules.
12. Never skip your scheduled car maintenance.
If you need an oil change, a tire rotation, or any other service, keep to the recommended car maintenance schedule. A well-maintained vehicle doesn’t just last longer but can garner a higher price tag when the time is right for a new model.
Finding Help on Car Maintenance Near Me
Leave nothing to chance. Make sure to schedule regular car maintenance with the qualified mechanics at Chaparral Ford. Just give us a call or schedule an appointment through our website today.