So, how are your resolutions going? It’s been a few months, and those New Year’s resolutions may have fallen to the wayside. While that unused gym membership wasn’t cheap, neglecting your vehicle’s maintenance can be really costly. April is National Car Care Month, and a great way to get back into a schedule that works.
Here are a few tips from the Car Care Council.
- Regular oil changes. Remember, we do not have sloppily built engines running junk oil anymore. Today’s precision machining, tighter build tolerances, and high-tech oil allow longer intervals between oil changes. Still, it does need to be changed on time. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations, and go with a name brand oil filter.
- Get the brakes checked. The only thing stopping your vehicle is friction. Eventually, the brakes will wear out, and obviously, that is bad. You can’t tell by the squeal anymore, as some quiet compounds do not have a wear indicator. Don’t wait until metal is grinding on metal. Have a professional examine the brake system.
- Make sure your gas cap is tight, every time. The gas tank is part of the emissions system, and a lose gas cap allows vapors to escape. This will not only cost you money as your gas evaporates from the tank, but also trigger that annoying “check engine” light. Turn it ‘til it clicks, and remember not to top up the tank. When the gas pump shuts off, the tank is full.
- Check your air pressure. Tires need to be properly inflated for several reasons. Tires that are low on air deform, causing decreased gas mileage, increased tire wear, and poor grip. Save money all around by ensuring your tires are at the proper pressure. Check the sticker on the door jamb, or on the sidewall of the tire for recommendations.
- Get an alignment. If you let go of the steering wheel while driving, does your vehicle pull to one side? Does the steering feel sloppy compared to new, or is there odd wear on your tires? If so, have the suspension looked at by a professional. The alignment should be checked every year, and it is very affordable preventative maintenance. A proper alignment will save gas and your tires.
- Have any leaks checked out by a mechanic. It might be something cheap and simple like an oil pan gasket leak. Don’t ignore it and keep adding fluid. Eventually something will fail. Remember, a leaking head gasket is not that expensive to replace. Ignoring it and cracking the cylinder head will be quite a bit more costly.
This is far from a comprehensive list, and a professional mechanic is your best source for advising you on regular vehicle maintenance. If you do not have a mechanic, add that to your list of resolutions for National Car Care Month. Or invest in an online manual from Haynes.com to learn how to Do It Yourself.