A well-maintained car, just like a well-maintained body, will look better, work better, last longer … and save you money.
It’s good advice to get an annual checkup from a doctor before starting a new fitness routine. It’s also good advice to take your car to a local dealer or service station for an annual inspection.
Here’s a list of items to check out, so your vehicle will stay in tip-top shape this year:
Have your mechanic take a look at:
-the engine oil for cleanliness, leaks & correct fluid levels.
-cooling system hoses, water pump, radiator, heater-operations and belts. (Coolant should be completely replaced every two or three years.)
-exhaust system. (You want to avoid any risks of carbon monoxide poisoning).
-spark plugs, the fuel system, filters and hoses.
-the brake system, including rotors, pads, drums, brake lines and fluids.
When your mechanic gives your vehicle the thumbs-up, here’s a regular routine to keep your car healthy:
DAILY – check your windows for cracks, scratches, dirt and pits. (Windows are part of the structural support/safety of your car. Repairing a chip is also much cheaper than replacing a full windshield.)
DAILY – check for liquid or stains on the ground in the area where your car is parked. (It’s your early-warning-system for fluid leaks.)
DAILY – check your brakes for pedal pressure and smooth, straight stops. (If your brake pedal feels “sloppy” or doesn’t hold pressure, you’ve got a problem and should get to a mechanic right away.)
DURING FILL-UPS – check your oil level when you’re at the gas station. (Most of the time it will probably be just fine, but this habit is a kind of “cheap insurance,” because running your car without enough oil is a very easy way to ruin a $10,000 engine!)
WEEKLY – check your tires for the right amount of tread and pressure. (Be alert in wintertime for rapid drops in temperature; your tire pressure can need adjustment from one day to the next!) Mike Pehl also says that when you analyze car crashes, most of the time at least one of the vehicles does NOT have tires that are in acceptable condition. Good tires can help keep you safe on the road.
WEEKLY – check your headlights and signal lights for dirt or bulbs that need replacing. (Alignment of bulbs will usually stay true unless you’ve been in a collision.)
MONTHLY – check the condition of your wiper blades. (If they hop and make noise when running, or if they feel bumpy to your fingers, those are signs they need to be replaced, and you don’t want to discover that during a rainstorm or snowstorm.)
YEARLY – check your suspension for excessive bouncing, leaning or swaying. (Listen for knocking or clunking sounds, and be alert for any severe pull to the right or the left when steering; those are warning signs that you have problems that need attention). Mike Pehl says that the front end suspension systems of our cars are a little like our feet, which have about a hundred different bones in a small area. Complicated systems need expert technicians, so if you hear unusual noises when you turn or hit a bump, get a mechanic to do a diagnosis!
And finally, for your New Year’s Resolution for your car, some basic grooming tips:
–Wash your car regularly, especially if you live in cold areas where road salt is used to control ice and snow. This will help you prevent excessive rusting of your car body.
–Wax your car often, especially in hot areas where extreme amounts of sunshine can fade the paint color on your vehicle.
–Vacuum your car weekly, so dirt and sand don’t wear down your carpet fibers prematurely.
–Wipe your car’s interior (windows and dashboard) with window washer, to maximize visibility, cleanliness and overall attractiveness.
–Polish any leather upholstery with a moistening product, to keep it soft and protect it from cracking.
Taking care of your car with these Resolutions is just one way to start your New Year right, and to “drive safe, ride safe” in 2017!
Let us know any other car-care habits you’d like to share, by adding a comment to this article!