Do you know simple preventative maintenance can increase your vehicle’s reliability and make the dollars in your wallet last longer? Occasional TLC goes a long way! The reason behind this is simple: when a car is running smoothly and performing as it should, the engine and other critical components are less fatigued, which means you can focus on the road instead of that worrisome dashboard light. American Car Center is here to share the basics of essential car care to enhance your ride and improve your family’s safety.
Read the owner’s manual. No, really. It is jammed with information explaining your vehicle’s features and functions, including the important maintenance that needs to be regularly done. This ranges from how and when to change your motor oil, belt inspections, changing filters, and more. The manual will also outline all safety measures to take as you go through your car tune up checklist.
The 2-minute inspection. A walkaround can reveal issues with headlights, taillights, and turn signals (have them on during the inspection), and shows underinflated tires, and body and undercarriage rust. Under the hood, do a quick car battery check, looking for any frayed cables, cracks in the casing, corrosion, dirt, and other signs of damage. It’s also important to check your fluid levels, such as motor oil and windshield wiper fluid. Should you see a leak, get it checked out right away to lessen any further damage and costly repairs. While under the hood, check that the hoses and belts are snug and free of cracks and excessive wear.
Check and change motor oil regularly. This is the most important thing you can do to ensure that your ride runs smoothly. Take the dipstick out of the holder and clean it with a cloth or paper towel. Reinsert it into the holder and remove it again to see if the level is between the two notches on the dipstick. If the level is below the bottom notch, more oil is needed. Refer to the manual for how often you should change your oil and what type is best suited for your vehicle. If the oil is really dark or muddy, have it changed. All vehicles leased from American Car Center have oil changes included for up to 3 years!
Check engine coolant, antifreeze, and steering fluid. These all come with dipsticks or gauges, making it easy to check fluid levels at a glance. Even if you have a mechanic refill them, knowing your levels can prevent unnecessary damage.
Check – rotate – change..Proper tire inflation will improve your ride and fuel economy. Using an inexpensive tire pressure gauge, it is easy to measure your tire pressure and adjust it according to the levels specified inside the driver’s door. Tires should also be rotated about every 6,000 miles according to a set pattern for tire type. By rotating regularly, the pace of wear is not increased in any given section of the tread, and traction (and safety) is increased. The lifespan of a tire has two parts: usage/mileage and time since manufacture. A typical all-season tire has a warranty of 60,000 miles, but even if the tires are only lightly used, the rubber compounds deteriorate to unsafe levels after about seven years.
Replace filters. Automobiles have filters to enable flows and catch impurities. The cabin filter cleans the air that comes into your car by keeping out dust, pollen, and more. The air filter prevents debris from reaching the engine and ensures a quality mixture of air and fuel to sustain performance. New filters keep your vehicle more efficient by preserving its systems and improving fuel economy. Replacing the filters about every 12,000 miles is easy.
Replace spark plugs. These small components help maintain engine efficiency, but gunk build-up eventually decreases their capability. Your owner’s manual will tell you how often spark plugs will need to be replaced and where they are located under the hood. They may need to be replaced sooner if your vehicle struggles to accelerate, has trouble starting, worsening fuel economy, or makes popping misfire sounds.
Replacing windshield wipers. Wipers can take a real beating. Once water starts to streak the windshield after every swipe, it may be time to swap them out for new ones. Wipers are made of two parts – the metal arm and the blade – so you may only need to replace the blade and not the arm. Lengths and sizes vary but wiper manufacturers and auto part retailers make it easy to find the proper model for your vehicle, often with online selector tools on their websites.
Regular preventative maintenance is such an easy and inexpensive way to get the most out of your vehicle to sustain its performance, reliability, safety, and value.
If your vehicle requires increasingly constant maintenance, come visit American Car Center now to find a terrific late model and low mileage used car, or SUV with a great limited warranty. All of our nearly 70 conveniently located stores have a fantastic selection of vehicles – and one just right for you!
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