4 Basic Car Maintenance Tips

Posted by: Dan on 13/11/2014

Category: Maintenance

4 Basic Car Maintenance Tips

We'd all like to stay safe while driving on the road. Safe driving is the first step to ensuring your personal safety, but keeping your car maintained should be high on your priority list too. When all of the parts of your vehicle work together in perfect order, it's like a finely-tuned machine. When one part is having issues, it can sometimes affect other parts of your vehicle as well.

Due to innovations in technology, cars are more complex than they ever were just 30 to 50 years ago. Today, they incorporate sophisticated engines and computer electronics in addition to silicon chips and other advanced components.

The good news is that - despite new technology - car care hasn't changed that much over the years. Following a few simple steps can extend the life and durability of your car, and you don't require a lot of technical knowledge to be able to do it.

In some cases, you may still require the help of a qualified mechanic or technician for more complicated repairs and maintenance steps. However, there are some things you can do on your own.

Let's take a look at several basic steps you can take to care for your car.

1. Examine Your Car

Never ignore a warning light

Image: InfoCog

It's a good idea to examine your vehicle on a regular basis. Here are several areas and components to pay attention to:

  • Tyres: it's a good idea to check to ensure that your tyres are properly inflated. Make sure to examine them every two weeks or less, as tyres can be sensitive to temperature changes. Use a tyre pressure gauge to assess if they are properly inflated or not, and also do a visual check for anything out of the ordinary.
  • Body and bumper: check periodically to see if there is any noticeable damage to the body or the bumper of your car.
  • Fluids: check to see if there are any leaking fluids under your vehicle. Oil, power steering, brake, transmission or other fluids can leak depending on the state of your car. Note that air conditioning can cause water to drip under your car.
  • Exhaust: is there smoke emitting from your exhaust aside from startup fumes or diesel emissions? If so, you should get this checked.
  • Warning lights: is your car letting you know that you are low on fluids? It the engine light on? These matters should be addressed as soon as possible.

You do not require any advanced knowledge of cars to make these basic checks.

2. Examine Under The Hood

Under the hood is where most of the maintenance of a vehicle takes place. Here are the most important things to check for under the hood:

  • Oil: fluid level as well as cleanliness.
  • Antifreeze or coolant: check the fluid level. Avoid removing the radiator cap if your engine is warm or hot.
  • Brake and power steering fluid: check fluid levels.
  • Transmission fluid: if your car seems to have some trouble shifting, it could be due to the transmission fluid. If the fluid is in good working order, it should be clear and have a pinkish color to it. If it looks like or smells like it may be burnt (or if there are particles in it), you may want to see a mechanic.
  • Belts: check to ensure that your belts are not loose or warped. If they are, they must be replaced as soon as possible. In some cases, you may not be able to do this yourself. Seek out the help of a qualified mechanic.
  • Battery: batteries generally need to be replaced every five years or so. If you are not getting the right amount of charge to start your car with ease, it may need to be replaced. Fortunately, many car batteries come with warranties as well.
  • Tubes: check to see if any radiator or other tubes are worn or leaking.

Typically, your engine has containers and canisters with fill-level lines. The idea is to keep your fluid levels between the minimum and maximum line.

Finally, be watchful of electrical and tube connections as well as exposed or worn wires.

3. Oil Changes

Changing the oil regularly is essential to reduce engine wear and tear

Image: Robert Couse-Baker

One of the most important and basic things you can do to keep your car running is to change the oil and oil filters every 5,000 kilometers.

Oil levels should be checked on an ongoing basis, and should be clean (it will have a dark color to it after running through your engine, however). You may find it beneficial to keep motor oil in your vehicle in case of low fluid levels so you can top it off as needed.

There are a variety of different types of oil on the product shelves. Ask your mechanic, or check your user manual to find out what type of oil the manufacturer recommends you use with your specific car.

4. Odds And Ends

There are several other components that are good to check on a regular basis. These include:

  • Windshield wipers
  • Headlights, turn signals and brake lamps
  • Spark plugs and cables
  • Air filter

These parts can also contribute to your overall safety, especially windshield wipers and lights.

Conclusion

To ensure the longevity of your vehicle, it is always a good idea to address issues with it as soon as possible. See if you can identify potential problems with your vehicle before brining it to your mechanic.

With a little bit of extra time and effort, and a willingness to learn, you can keep your car in better condition and running for longer. The small practices and habits in car care can make a big difference over the long run.

If your car isn't safe, it isn't worth driving. After all, your personal safety is more important. Make it a habit to examine your car regularly.

What do you think? Did we miss any important steps? Is there anything else car owners should be keeping an eye on?

Let your thoughts be known in the comments section below!