With the impact of winter and the travel of summer pending, it’s a good idea to schedule some time caring for your car. In order to remind you, the Car Care Council has made April National Car Care Month. There is also a Fall Car Care Month in October. Each of these months provide acceptable weather and an opportunity to avoid repairs once the weather turns for the worse.
A car needs attention no matter how new it is. As a vibrating, rotating machine, the potential for failure of parts is higher than say that of a stationary object. Even with today’s advanced engineering and more precise seals and lubricants, cars are subject to failure.
A car is like your body in many ways. It has parts that allow you to see, parts that propel you, and fluids similar to blood. Remove any of these parts from yourself or your car and you can experience anything from limited mobility to total failure. Therefore, it’s a good idea to look into your car’s health as much as you would consider your own.
Crucial systems for the car are those that perform the jobs of propelling the car and those used for safety. Fluids are a vital part of this system as are lights, tires, wipers, brakes, and the drive train components.
Fluid levels are vital to car function and longevity. A quick check for puddles or drips under your car should be performed each time you approach it. Checking fluid levels on a weekly or biweekly basis can help to keep your car from early failure. Note the color and condition of the fluid as well as the fluid level. Dark oil or transmission oil is an indication that the fluid is getting old or worse yet, overheating for some reason.
Fluid changes should be performed as per manufacturer’s recommendations if you are to keep the warranty valid. Today’s engines and fluids have lengthened the change durations based on miles. For harsher conditions, fluids should be changed more often. Oil is the most changed fluid. Next should be antifreeze as it breaks down and becomes acidic over time. This can lower the temperature for boiling and freezing. Transmission fluid is the most ignored fluid change and it can be costly depending on the vehicle. Still, it should be changed after at most 50,000 miles in order to avoid even more costly repairs. Brake fluid and washer fluid should be monitored monthly as should power steering fluid.
Tires need to have proper tread and air pressure for best performance. Fuel mileage will increase with proper tire care. Tires will last longer when rotated. Include the spare if it’s a full size. Buying a matching rim for the spare may offset the cost with longer tire life. It could also improve safety by lowering the amount of tread wear when averaging the use over five tires versus four tires.
As a final check, inspect your wipers and lights. These are two of the major safety factors that are often overlooked. Losing your brake lights can invite a rear end collision. Get used to looking at them on a regular basis
immediately. Replace windshield wiper blades every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering for optimum wiping performance and safety.