Cars are a vital part of everyday modern life that allow people to get where they need to go. However, they won’t just go and go forever. A car is fundamentally a collection of many working parts, where one impacts the next and so on. If perhaps one part of the car does have an issue, it is important to fix it as quickly as possible, to prevent further damaging other parts.
When properly maintained, a car will keep trucking along for many more years than if it is neglected. Not only is this helpful in getting you where you need to go, it is a more valuable investment if you plan to resell. So what are the basics of car care that you must know? Here are 10 fundamental pointers:
Tip 1: Keep up on Oil Changes
Yes, it really is important to keep up on oil changes. The reason for this is because motor oil gets thick and nasty like a sludge substance over time, and the deposits will wear down your engine. Changing your car’s oil can help you refresh the oil before it gets to that point, preventing your car from contamination by constant exposure to heat, air and moisture.
If you wait too long in between oil changes, the result can be catastrophic and very expensive to fix. Recommendations for oil change intervals vary from every 3000 miles to 10,000 miles, so a good average is every 5000 miles.
Tip 2: Flush the Cooling System and Change Coolant Annually
The cooling system in a car keeps it from overheating by circulating coolant through the car’s engine, absorbing heat from the blocks and heads and sending it to the radiator. After so long, the cooling system can start to corrode and acquire a buildup of deposits which hinder its function. For this reason, it is helpful to annually flush the cooling system with a mix of half water and half coolant.
Tip 3: Transmission and Differential Oil Care
A car’s transmission moves energy from the engine to the drivetrain to get the car moving, while the differential compensates for the difference between the inner and outer wheels when handling corners. Fluids are needed for both to ensure proper function. However, the fluids do eventually wear down if they are not replaced. As a result, the inside of the transmission can overheat and wear can develop on the gears and bearings.
This is why it is important to change these oils at regular intervals, and to use the recommended oil type and oil viscosity.
Tip 4: Wash it Regularly
Driving a clean car feels and looks nice, however it is more important than that. Washing your car regularly ensures proper function because anything that you run over, can get stuck under the car. Avoid rust and malfunction by hosing off grime and salt underneath, in addition to cleaning the exterior.
Tip 5: Grease It Up (Lubrication)
While many cars these days do not need to be greased nearly as often as was previously the case, older cars with greased ball joints will need lubing at regular intervals. Additionally, if your car is making creaking noises, especially when going over bumps, it may need lubrication. Generally, lube modern cars every few years.
Tip 6: Sun Protection
The inside of your car can reach well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit on a hot summer day in the sun, and the exterior can reach even higher if it is parked in direct sunlight! It is really important to protect your car from the sun because, after repeated exposure, damage occurs to parts within the car.
Always make sure that your belts are not cracked or damaged, the coolant level is sufficient, and that your car’s hoses are not worn out or damaged. Oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid and power steering fluid all help to keep your car moving, and at high temperatures, it is important that they are all at the proper level to protect the life of your car.
You should check the air filters in your car regularly during hot weather because dust can clog them, reduce the gas mileage of your car, and it can cause your car’s mass air flow sensor to become damaged. You can protect the inside of your car by parking it in the shade and/or using a window deflector, and should also use a UV protection on the plastic and vinyl to keep it from drying out and cracking/fading.
Tip 7: CV Joint Bearing Care
A wheel bearing lets the wheels on a car move around and holds them securely to the car. There are four wheel bearings on a car, one for each wheel. The wheels and steering wheel will begin to shake when your wheel bearings wear out. You should have your car checked out as soon as possible if this happens.
There are two types of wheel bearings made for cars:
- This type of bearing can be removed and taken apart, it is then cleaned out and filled with new grease, or
- A sealed wheel bearing needs to be replaced all together when it is defective.
If your car was made before 1997, there are two wheel bearings in each front tire (1 inner and 1 outer). You should clean, and fill it with new grease or have it inspected every 30,000 miles.
If your car was made after 1998 then there is one wheel bearing in each tire, it is called a hub and bearing assembly. This unit needs to be replaced when it shows signs of wear.
A few signs that your wheel bearings are wearing down:
- An abnormal noise coming from your tires like squealing or grinding when you are driving.
- The steering wheel might shake when you are driving.
- The wheel will not move forward easily if the wheel bearing is locked up.
Tip 8: Brake Fluid Care
Next, your car’s brake fluid absorbs moisture which causes the brake components to become corroded and malfunction. We all know how important it is for brakes to work when we are relying on them, so bleed the braking system once per year and be sure to replace brake fluid.
Tip 9: Wheels and Tyres
Wheel and tyre care is also a big part of car maintenance. You should rotate your cars tyres every 5,000 miles and always clean brake dust off your wheels. The nasty grime from the road, moisture and heat from your brakes will cause the sludge to bake onto your tyres. A damp sponge can be used with clean cold water to do the trick.
Next, your car tyre pressure should be checked one a week. If the pressure is off, it can have a negative effect on gas mileage, the cars handling and comfort.
Lastly for wheel and tyre care, check the tread of your cars tyres because bald, slick tires are not good for keeping you on the road. Some tyres come with a tread wear indicator built into them. Examine your tyres regularly and if the tread is too low, it’s time to replace them.
Tip 10: Electric Checkup
The maintenance of the electric components of your car are also essential to proper functioning. However, if you are planning to do any work on your cars electrical system, you should always disconnect the battery first by doing the following:
- Loosen the connector for the negative/ground terminal first
- Wiggle the terminal cap off
- Use a zip tie to move the cable out of the way
- If you need to remove the battery, remove the positive connector
Once disconnected, most new cars have a 12 volt negative ground electrical system, and the battery terminals and contacts need to be clean so that the current can pass around the electrical system freely. You can remove the terminal caps and clean the post with a wire brush.
There you have it! These 10 tips cover the basic fundamental care you should be performing on your car. In doing these regularly, your car will thank you by staying in working order and taking you where you need to go for years to come. A little proactive maintenance goes a long way in preventing expensive repairs and extensive damage!