You don’t have to be an expert to understand how to do car maintenance. Your vehicle is simply a collection of mechanical devices that work together. Understanding your car that way can make maintaining it less daunting. All you need to do is focus on one function of your car at a time and do what’s required to maintain it. Being diligent about caring for your car will help prolong its life in the future. Here are some essential basics of car maintenance that you need to know.
Inspect accessory belts.
Open the hood of your car and take a look at the accessory belts. Your engine is responsible for powering the accessories such as the air conditioning, the power steering pump, and alternator using a belt-driven by the crank pulley. The belts can get damaged or worn out if they rub on something in the engine bay or the pulley goes bad. You should make a note of any rubbing, cracking, or other damages. If it looks damaged, then it will need to be replaced. In the future, you’ll possibly need to move what was rubbing against the belt, so it doesn’t happen again.
Check the tread depth on tires.
Tires come in many sizes and shapes. Based on the application, the depth and type of tread will vary. A majority of tires today come with tread wear lines that cross the tire perpendicular to the tread grooves. When the tread wears down to the point that the wear lines are even with the tread, the tires need to be replaced. If you drive on tires with worn-out treads, it may result in loss of traction in the rain or a tire blowing out.
Make sure tires are properly inflated.
A specific amount of air pressure inside is required for tires to operate properly. If you drive on them underinflated, you risk damaging the tires’ sidewalls, which can cause them to rupture and deflate. You can locate the maximum pressure rating on the side of the tire on your car. Fill it to that amount. You can place a tire gauge on the tire’s valve stem to see if the air is required, then use an air compressor to have the tires inflated if necessary. Be mindful that underinflated tires can reduce your gas mileage since the vehicle will work harder to propel you on soft tires. You should also be careful about overinflating, as this can make tires more likely to blow out and reduce their lifespan.
Check the oil regularly.
Find the dipstick in your vehicle to check the oil. The top of most dipsticks are yellow, but if you struggle to find it, refer to your owner’s manual to learn where it’s located. Once you find it, pull it out and wipe the oil off of it. Observe the clean dipstick to identify the full line, and then slide it into the engine. Remove it again and look at the level the oil reaches on the stick. If the dipstick has lines on it, the top one represents when your oil is full, and each one below indicates the quart of oil that needs to be added. Low oil levels can sometimes be caused by oil leaks. Fill the oil back up, and regularly check it to see if there’s an issue with burning in the vehicle or oil leaking.
Check coolant and brake fluid levels.
Under the hood of the car, you’ll find a brake fluid reservoir and a coolant. The containers will have lines in them that show how much fluid needs to be in each. If either of them is below the full line, fill them up to the line, so your vehicle doesn’t run out of it either. If you’re unsure where the reservoirs are, you can look at the owner’s manual to locate them. Be sure to choose the proper replacement fluid according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. The role of coolant is to travel through the engine and help regulate engine temperatures. Your car uses brake fluid to engage with your brakes whenever you press on the pedal. If your brake fluid is low, it can cause your car to brake erratically or not brake at all.
Test turn signals, taillights, and headlights.
As you’re probably already aware, your headlights are necessary for you to drive at night. Your turn signals and tail lights alert other drivers of what your intentions are as you’re driving. All of these lights need to be properly functioning at all times. You can have a friend or family member to stand outside of your car as you test all your lights to be sure they’re working. Lights that blow out should be replaced as soon as possible. If a turn signal is flashing faster than normal, the turn signal on the other end of your vehicle has probably blown out.
Keep vehicle batteries clean.
Modern automotive batteries tend to require less maintenance. Nonetheless, you can prolong the life of the battery through a few steps. Be sure that the terminals of your battery are free from corrosion and clean. Check to ensure the strap that’s securing your battery is tight. Some batteries might require that you check the fluid levels in it and add to it when necessary. The vibrations that are caused by an unsecured battery will reduce the battery’s lifespan. Terminals that are free of any corrosion will ensure a proper connection.
Take action if you see your dashboard warning light.
Most vehicles today have various warning lights that let you know if there’s an issue that needs immediate attention. The symbols are generally universal, whatever kind of car you have. They warn you of low tire pressure, issues with your anti-lock brake system, or excessive engine temperature. Your owner’s manual should note what each signal means, so you’ll know what action to take when a specific light comes on. If you see a light come on that you’re unsure of, you can pull over somewhere safe and turn off the vehicle to look through the manual to identify it. If you don’t have the owner’s manual, look into the auto maker’s website for information.
Replace spark plugs every 30,000 miles.
Spark plugs are responsible for igniting the mixture of fuel and air inside your engine to create power. Over time, they can become corroded. When the spark plugs are corroded, they have less ability to ignite the air/fuel mixture, causing your engine to run poorly or misfire. It may result in the cylinder of your car not firing at all. Take a spark plug wrench and remove the old spark plugs, then replace them with new ones. Be mindful that you might have to adjust the gap between your spark plug and the prong sticking out of it using a spark plug gapping tool. The proper gap measurement should be located in your car’s service manual. You’ll need to purchase the exact spark plugs for the specific make, model, and year of your car.
Replace brake pads every 20,000 miles.
Sometimes, brake pads might need to be replaced even sooner than 20,000 miles depending on the circumstances. Frequently driving in traffic, aggressive driving, and softer compound brake pads can all reduce the lifespan of your pads. Brake pads generally come with a small piece of metal that rubs on the rotor when the pads are too low. As a result, your brakes will end up squealing and squeaking. If your brakes are making a high-pitched noise, they likely need to be replaced. When replacing the pads, you should always replace both.
Replace air every 45,000 miles.
Air is just as important to an engine as gasoline is. Over time, an air filter can get clogged with oil, dirt, and dust. Choosing to replace your air filter around every 45,000 miles can help your engine continue to run properly. Locate the air box in your vehicle, then unlatch clips, so you can gain access to the air filter. Remove the old one, and then drop the new one in the airbox. Clogged-up air filters can potentially reduce your gas mileage and the amount of power your vehicle creates. If you happen to have aftermarket air filters, you might be able to just clean them every 45,000 miles instead of having to replace them. You can aid yourself with an air compressor full buyer guide if you want to do a little research before committing to an air compressor.
Replace fuel filter every 60,000 miles.
Fuel filters are designed to prevent grime and dirt from reaching the fuel system. It’s usually located past the fuel pump on the underside of your vehicle. Eventually, a filter can get clogged and prevent fuel from reaching your engine. When changing your fuel filter, remove the two plastic clips that are holding the filter in place, and then slide a new one in.
Maintaining a car can take work, but as long as you’re regularly checking the parts, it can be a simple process. Keeping all of these basic maintenance checks in mind will help keep your car running as long as possible. If you’re currently thinking of buying new parts or selling some, you can learn more about Diesel core for buyers and sellers.
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