How to Maintain Your Car’s Health: Tips and Tricks for Longevity

How to Maintain Your Cars Health
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Keeping your car running smoothly need not be rocket science. With some basic knowledge and a little bit of effort, you can extend the life of your vehicle and in so doing avoid expensive repair bills down the road. To that end, the following are some easy ways to keep your car in tip-top shape.

The Importance of Regular Checkups

Just like we need an annual physical, cars require routine maintenance to catch minor issues before these snowball into bigger, costlier problems. Scheduling a professional inspection as recommended in the owner’s manual of your vehicle is important. During these visits, mechanics will change the oil, check all fluid levels, rotate the tires, and examine the brakes, battery, belts, and hoses. Detecting wear and tear early on can help to prevent breakdowns.

Don’t Ignore the Check Engine Light

We’ve all been tempted to keep driving when that annoying “check engine” light illuminates on the dash. But ignoring it is unwise and can actually worsen whatever underlying issue exists. The light indicates a sensor has detected a problem. Promptly having the code read and reset at an auto parts store or service center is prudent. The issue could be as simple as a loose gas cap, but it could signal something bigger is brewing.

Tires

Tires are easy to take for granted, yet they are crucial for safety and performance. Properly inflated and rotated tires result in better gas mileage, smoother rides, and optimal traction in slippery conditions. Check the owner’s manual for the correct PSI, then use a quality tire gauge to check pressure every month (when the tires are cold). Uneven tread means that it is time for rotation and alignment.

Battery Basics

Have you ever endured the frustration of a dead battery leaving you stranded? Replacing an automotive battery every 3-5 years prevents this hassle. According to the good folk at Clore Automotive though, new batteries occasionally require a 12-volt battery charger to initially build up a full charge. Once conditioned, routinely cleaning the terminals and checking the water levels in standard lead-acid batteries helps to stave off premature failure.

The Cooling System’s Crucial Role

Your car’s cooling system deserves plenty of attention to avoid overheating disasters. Flushing and refilling the radiator with fresh coolant/antifreeze at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals is important. While at it, why not inspect the radiator hoses and water pump for cracks, leaks, or deterioration?

A thermostat that sticks closed can also lead to overheating issues. Replacing a $20 thermostat is much wiser than risking cylinder head gasket failure – an expensive repair that can easily top $1,000.

Don’t Fear the Dreaded Fluid Flush

Many drivers cringe at the thought of being up-sold on costly fluid flushes like transmission, coolant, or brake fluid changes. However, letting these neglected fluids overheat or become contaminated is simply inviting trouble. Most manufacturers recommend draining and refilling these systems on a set mileage interval using the specific fluid formulas. The fresh fluids lubricate components better and will not break down as rapidly as the old, worn-out stuff.

Keep It Clean and Protected

Washing your car frequently removes corrosive road salt, sap, bird droppings, and other environmental hazards that can damage the paint and undercarriage. Using quality car soap, avoiding harsh dishwashing detergents is advisable. Applying a ceramic coating or paint sealant improves the ease of washing and adds a layer of protection against oxidation, fading, and minor scratches, too.

Conclusion

Taking a few simple preventative steps like these means you will reap the rewards with a well-running vehicle that gets you where you need to go reliably for years to come. A stitch in time really does save nine with automotive maintenance.

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