Summer is approaching, and most Americans will be hitting the road on a trip at some point while the weather is nice. Even if you just plan to cruise around town, follow these easy tips to ensure your car stays on the road and out of the shop!
1: Check Belts and Wipers
These pieces are easy to identify as fine or bad. If any rubber is cracked or looks horribly faded and brittle, just replace it before it breaks. An AC blower is one thing; a timing belt is quite another! While you’re at it, make sure your windshield fluid reservoir doesn’t have any cracks or leaks. There’s nothing as annoying as smearing something all over your windshield only to find out you have to stop at a gas station to clean up your mess.
2: Check Fluids!
This is possibly THE most important item you need to be aware of. Without lubrication, your engine and transmission will grind into a sold lump of metal. Oil is the only barrier between your pistons and the wall of the cylinder. In both your engine and your transmission (and certain 4WD systems) low oil levels will lead to undue wear and possibly overheating. Check in your owners manual for the specifics!
3: When In Doubt: Replace Your Spark Plugs
The spark plug is responsible for igniting the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder of your car’s engine. Weak or no spark can mean less power, worse mileage, and possibly misfires. They’re good for at least 30,000 usually, but if you can’t remember the last time you’ve changed them, the time is now. If you can work a ratchet and socket, you’ll feel like a real-life mechanic, even if you’re just playing one in your driveway.
4: Don’t Let Tires Get Tired
This is one of the easiest vehicle maintenance tasks! No excuses! Use the quarter trick to check tread life…..if the tread of your tire doesn’t reach Washington’s head when placed in between, it’s time to start shopping for new ones. A bald tire is a hydroplaning, braking, and cornering hazard. Also don’t forget to rotate! Your front tires will always wear faster on the outer edges because they’re handling steering duties. A reputable tire shop will be able to rotate and then balance each tire accordingly. If not done properly (or at all), you can damage your suspension with too much wobble.
5: Keep It Clean!!
Washing and detailing your car is the best thing you can do to keep your car looking and feeling new. This is even truer in places that get real winters. Snow and ice build up in the undercarriage can hold moisture right against exposed metal parts, leading to premature rust. Salted roads can exacerbate this issue. Additionally, a layer of dirt on your clear coat also invites premature oxidation. Left unchecked, and sometimes combined with rust from under the car, this can eat holes through body panels. Last: Who wants to look sloppy out in public? Keep your ride shining!
While there are many other simple maintenance tasks you could be tackling, these five are doable by drivers of any age with minimum effort. Have any more tips you’ve learned? Share them in the comments!
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