Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget about a regular car maintenance schedule until something goes wrong. But if you get in the habit of planning upkeep, you’re less likely to experience unexpected breakdowns that also break the bank. No one wants to be that person stranded on the side of the road with their hazard lights blinking.
The Owner’s Manual
Every vehicle comes with an owner’s manual, but if your copy is missing, an electronic version might exist online. The manual should include a section detailing the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. This will give you an overall idea of how often tasks need to be performed so you can get them on the calendar in advance.
Another thing to consider is that if your vehicle is exposed to extreme temperatures, or you frequently haul heavy loads or drive on rough terrain, it’s best to switch to the “severe maintenance schedule.”
Car Maintenance and Motor Oil
Motor oil can cause damage to an engine when it’s not changed regularly. The oil acts as a vital lubricant that keeps parts from grinding together, but accumulated contaminants eventually lead to friction. This is also an ideal time to swap out old air filters. Twice a year is usually a good rule of thumb. The air filter is responsible for keeping small particles out of the engine.
Top Off Tires
Properly inflated tires reduce the risk of a blowout. You can find the proper tire pressure listed in the owner’s manual, as well. For accuracy, it’s best to add air to tires before driving, preferably not after you’ve been on the road all day. This is because tire pressure is affected by temperature. It’s not a bad idea to double-check your spare tire, too.
Car Maintenance for Fluids
Washer fluid is usually topped off during an oil change, but don’t forget about your vehicle’s brake and transmission fluids. As a side note, never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot. You could be scalded by boiling coolant as the pressure is released.
Keep an Eye on Belts and Hoses
Belts and hoses need to be examined regularly and most should be changed every three to four years, depending on how many miles you put on your car. It’s important to check hoses for cracks or bulges. Similarly, belts need to be inspected for signs of wear.
Of course, there are other things to be conscious of when creating your upkeep schedule, such as the battery life, and windshield wipers. Stay organized with a car maintenance log, or even download a phone app.