Back in the old days, cars were considered crucial pieces of luxury that only individuals with high stature had the bragging rights of owning. Today, this tradition has completely faded away where almost everyone has access to a decent car. Whether it’s a new or a used car, one way of extending the life of your auto, while still keeping it at peak performance is by scheduling regular maintenance. So, to guarantee that you don’t spend most of your hard-earned money paying the mechanic, this comprehensive guide will discuss essential car maintenance tips you’ll need to follow.
You see, whether you live in the metro city or just in a small town, a car is an essential asset you can’t live without. In fact, some individuals have gone ahead to convert their cars (RVs) into mobile homes to enjoy the freedom of living almost anywhere their vehicles take them. Whatever the reason, your vehicle is here to stay and regular maintenance is what is needed to help it run efficiently. So, with that said, whether you’re an owner of a business fleet, a limo service, or just a regular weekend car hobbyist, this guide has sub-divide the 50 car maintenance tips into different categories for easy perusal and reference. Please read on.
But First, What’s the Importance of Vehicle Maintenance?
Just like any other well-oiled machine, your car is made up of a variety of different mechanical parts that need regular maintenance to stay in good shape. While most people are aware of some basic tips they can follow to keep their cars well maintained, what they don’t know is why performing such regular maintenance checks is important to their cars. To answer this rhetoric, this section has listed seven compelling reasons as to why maintaining your car is important.
- Improves Longevity:
This is by far one of the key reasons why your car requires regular checks. Just by conducting regular maintenance schedules, you’re able to keep various problems at bay such as battery problems, tires, brakes, and fuel level issues. By doing this, the various components within your car will have an extended life which can make it look neat and surprisingly stunning as compared to most newer cars.
- Reduced Repair Costs:
Some people will argue that regular car maintenance is expensive. But, if you do the math, you’ll realize that spending little cash now to maintain the health of your car is much better than dealing with an unexpected repair that can turn out to be expensive. For instance, failure to inspect the engine for minor signs such as cracks, leaks, and excessive wear caused by friction, can turn out to be a major issue to a point of replacing the entire engine.
- Enhances Reliability and Performance:
As your car ages, there’s a high chance it will suffer a decline in efficiency and performance. One of the major signs that can tell your car is suffering from reliability issues is a drop in fuel economy where you notice regular refueling of the fuel tank. Another sign is a rapid drop in battery power, braking issues, and unfamiliar noises when your car is in motion. So, to prevent such problems from getting your way, make sure that you have your car checked immediately.
- Improves Personal Safety:
Apart from human error, one major cause of most road accidents around the globe is the sudden malfunction of critical components within the car. This can be the engine, a tire bursting while driving at full speed, or the braking system suddenly giving up the very moment you need it most. Another common cause is when your car breaks down at night in the middle of nowhere leaving you stranded. So, to boost personal safety and prevent some of these annoying situations that can ruin your journey, scheduling regular maintenance is really important.
- Reduces Road Emergencies:
Apart from accidents, failure to repair your car frequently can lead to regular breakdowns, which can be very annoying. Some situations such as the engine failing to start, tire bursts, and oil/coolant leakage can also be frustrating and time-consuming especially if you had scheduled a meeting within a tight timeframe.
- Protects the Environment:
As you can see, most countries today have implemented stiffer regulations concerning vehicle exhaust emissions. This has led to the production of hybrid and electric vehicles, which have potentially lowered the amount of harmful fumes that escape into the atmosphere. While carmakers are doing their best to reduce vehicle emissions, car owners, with cars that run on fossil fuel, are expected to play their part by avoiding driving un-roadworthy vehicles. Therefore, to cut excess carbon emissions, scheduling regular car maintenance is very important.
- Increases Your Car’s Resale Value:
Have you ever wondered why some classic cars are actioned at a higher resale value? Well, apart from being rare and out of the market for a long time, the owners of such vehicles usually conduct regular maintenance to keep them in mint condition. Although your car doesn’t have to be a rare model just to be well-maintained, keeping it in tip-top condition can help to increase its resale value in case you plan to sell it in the future.
Car Maintenance Checklist: 50 Essential Steps
The First Two Basic Prerequisites
1. Read the Owner’s Manual
Before you think of adding or getting rid of anything from your vehicle, the first critical step you need to take is to peruse through your car’s manual. You see, when it comes to your car’s maintenance, there’s no “one size fits all”. Since cars come in different models, sizes, and years of manufacture, each car has its own requirements, which are indicated in the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website.
So, before you change your car’s oil, it’s good to first double-check the manual to ensure that you have the right oil. Also, you will understand exactly what your car needs without causing any serious damage to the engine.
2. Understand the Various Warning Light Indicators
Even after conducting meticulous inspection and maintenance on your car, it’s always not guaranteed that every component within the car will be repaired. Thankfully, most modern cars are designed with sophisticated sensors that trigger warning light indicators in case something is amiss. As part of your car’s basic maintenance, the second step is to learn the various indicator lights on your car’s dashboard to have a basic understanding of your car’s demands.
- Check Engine Light: This indicator light usually notifies you of a possible problem in the engine. This is all thanks to multiple sensors on your car’s motor that are connected and monitored by the car’s OBD II interface. So, to correct any possible problem with the engine, you’ll need to consult a professional mechanic who will use an OBD II scanner to scan the various OBD II codes to determine the root cause of the problem.
- Service Engine Light: Whenever you see an indicator light showing “service”, “service engine” and “maintreqd”, then it’s a direct reminder that your car’s engine needs to be serviced as soon as possible.
- Electrical Fault Light: When you see this indicator light, then it’s a direct sign that your car’s electrical charging system is misbehaving. If you’re worried about where exactly you need to start from, you can commence by assessing the alternator as it’s the one at fault here in most cases.
- Coolant Warning Light: Do you know what this indicator light means? Well, it simply means that your engine is overheating and needs to cool down immediately. So, to remedy this problem, you only need to pull off immediately and open the car’s hood to allow the engine to cool down.
- Oil Warning Light: Once this warning light flashes, then it’s a clear indication that the oil level in your engine is getting lower than normal. Sometimes, the light can indicate an even bigger problem such as a malfunctioning oil pump or a blocked oil strainer that can easily wreak havoc on your car’s engine.
- Brakes Warning Light: Several factors can cause the brake warning light to engage. One of those is when the brake fluid levels get low while the second is when the brake pads are completely worn out. The third reason is when you accidentally engage the emergency brake.
Engine Maintenance Tips
3. Check the Oil Level Regularly
The reason why this tip is among the first is due to the critical role the engine plays as part of your auto. You see, the engine is the heart of your car and has multiple moving parts that generate friction whenever they rub against each other. These parts, which include the pistons, can cause a substantial reduction in your engine’s performance.
So, to prevent this issue, you need to check the oil level regularly to ensure that all moving parts within the engine are perfectly lubricated. To check the oil level, all you need is a dipstick. Some dipsticks have color indicators while others are marked with dots near the tip to indicate where exactly the oil level should lie.
Other than the oil level, something else you should be keen on is the color of the oil. In case the engine oil is dark, then it simply means it contains chemical additives, contaminants, or worse, sludge and it must be replaced.
4. Check the Drive Belts
Apart from generating power to run your vehicle, the engine is also tasked to generate mechanical power to run other parts and accessories within it such as the alternator, the air conditioning compressor, the air, the water, and the power steering pumps among other components. To transfer this mechanical power, the engine relies on timing, a serpentine or a V-belt that connects to the crankshaft pulley and the rest of the mechanical parts.
Although these belts are tasked to perform such strenuous work, they’re unfortunately made of rubber and other polymer materials that wear out fast following regular use forcing them to degrade. Unless your engine uses chain belts, rubber belts will require regular inspection to ensure there are no visible hairline cracks. Since each car is different from the other, you need to refer to your car’s manual frequently to determine the right time to replace the belt.
5. Check the Engine Coolant Level
The engine consists of pistons and other moving parts that generate friction in the form of heat. If this heat is not controlled, then the engine can overheat causing it to break down unexpectedly. Thankfully, this issue can easily be controlled with the help of the radiator and the fluid running inside it, which is the engine coolant. Once the coolant is supplied in the reservoir, then it will control the temperatures in the engine by dissipating excess temperature to the environment.
As part of your car’s maintenance checklist, regular checks on your engine’s coolant level are very important. In fact, most modern vehicles come with translucent reservoirs that let you visually inspect the level of the coolant without having to open the reservoir.
6. Change the Air Filter Regularly
The air filter is among those components that play a critical role in maintaining the integrity of your engine. Its main purpose is to allow efficient fuel-air fixtures in the combustion chamber by filtering out contaminants, debris, and particulate matter from your fuel and air.
Now, depending on your driving conditions, there are times when the air filter may get clogged faster than usual. Failure to check it regularly means that dirt and debris can easily accumulate on the air filter causing significantly reduced horsepower, mediocre gas mileage, and sometimes, unusual sounds and misfires coming from the engine.
To prevent these issues, all you need is to schedule regular car maintenance by regularly inspecting the air filter. Although it’s good to adhere to your car’s manufacturer’s recommendation, replacing the air filter as soon as it gets clogged is one way of maintaining your engine’s condition and integrity.
7. Check the Spark Plug
Another component that plays a critical role in enhancing the efficiency of your car’s engine is the spark plug. For those vehicles that rely on the standard copper spark plugs, replacing them after every 30,000 miles will be highly recommended. If your car relies on the more advanced iridium spark plugs, then a timely change of 100,000 miles will be fine.
Failure to replace your spark plugs can lead to engine misfires, trouble starting your car, reduced acceleration, worsening fuel economy, and engine surging. Now, to replace the spark plugs, all you need is to read the owner’s manual to locate them. From there, you need to inspect them for any signs of damage to determine whether to repair or replace them.
8. Replace the Fuel Filter
Just like the air filter, the fuel filter plays a key role in sieving unwanted contaminants from your fuel before it gets to the engine. Unfortunately, the fuel filter can also get clogged after regular functioning causing engine inefficiency. Thankfully, this can be avoided by scheduling a regular inspection of the fuel filter and replacing it occasionally by following your car’s manual.
Maintaining the Electrical System
9. Inspect the Battery Regularly
The battery is among those components that are highly visible thus making it easier for you to inspect and repair. Now, some of the visible signs of a damaged battery include frayed cables, cracked cases, corrosion on the terminals, and acid leaks. So, to prevent any damages, all you need to do is to disconnect the battery from the car by disconnecting the negative terminal first followed by the positive terminal.
From there, use a damp cloth to wipe the battery casing to remove any fluids and dirt particles. You can also check for any signs of damage such as cracks and bulges as well as remove any corrosion on the terminals. Once you’re done, all you have to do is to reconnect the battery by connecting the positive terminal first followed by the negative terminal.
10. Avoid Using Electrical Components When the Engine is Off
Still, on the battery, avoid leaving your car’s electrical components on when the engine is off. One of the biggest mistakes most motorists make is using their cars’ electrical components when the engine is off. This involves listening to the radio or using home appliances in case of an RV. What happens is that your car’s battery gets drained off pretty fast leaving it with no charge to power the engine.
11. Drive Regularly
Now, why did you buy your car in the first place if you intended to leave it packed in the garage for weeks? In case you didn’t know, this is one way you can easily damage most of your car’s components such as the battery. So, to prevent this, don’t leave your car stagnant in the garage for weeks. Instead, take some time to drive or even leave the engine running for around 30 minutes for the battery to get charged.
Just to add on that, In case your car has been in the garage for weeks, avoid driving for short trips. Instead, try to go out for long trips to give the battery more time to recharge entirely.
12. Avoid Jumpstarting a Flat Battery
The battery is one of the fragile components of the engine. During regular maintenance, one thing you should avoid is jumpstarting it when it’s already flat as this can damage your electrical components. However, if you must jumpstart a dead battery, always read your car’s manual to understand how the process should go.
Something else about the battery is that you should always secure it back in the engine bay after you’re done cleaning and inspecting it. In case you fail to secure it properly, the engine’s vibrations can easily disorient the battery’s terminals causing them to break free. Since the battery is tasked to supply a steady flow of electrical power to various components within the engine, your car is likely to stop and break down.
13. Don’t Park Outside During Winter
For those living in extremely cold regions, parking your car outside during winter is one way you can cause a rapid deterioration of the battery. Now, batteries get discharged pretty fast during winter. Since your car will be exposed to freezing water when left outside, then this will generally cause the battery to get discharged faster than usual.
The most effective way to prevent such rapid deterioration of the battery is to park your car inside an insulated garage and don’t forget to charge the battery frequently.
Tires, Wheels and the Braking System
14. Tire Maintenance
Other than the engine and the battery, your car’s tires are other important components that demand regular maintenance to stay in good shape. Since the tires are the ones in regular contact with the road, a slight imbalance can lead to a disaster especially when you’re speeding in sharp turns. So, to maintain the health of your tires, here are some key areas you’ll need to check on.
- Tire Pressure:
The first thing you need to look at is the tire pressure. In case you didn’t know, most of the tire-related accidents on our roads are caused by under-inflated tires. This serious condition can put your car’s tires on risk of blowing out while still compromising your car’s fuel economy. So, to prevent this, all you need is to read your car’s user manual to find out the amount of psi each tire should hold.
Once you have an idea, simply grab a tire pressure gauge and insert it into the valve stem of your tire to check the amount of pressure on each tire. In case the psi number is above what’s written on the user manual, you can reduce the pressure, and if it’s below the recommended psi number, then you can simply add the pressure.
- The Treads:
Other than the tire pressure, something else you need to be keen on is the tread depth of each tire. To check this, you can try placing a coin inside the imprinted patterns to see how deep the treads are. Secondly, you can try driving on wet mud to see whether the imprinted patterns are protrusive or not.
- Tire Rotation:
Tire rotation is something else you can count on if you’re looking to improve the health of your tires. This can be done by closely monitoring the tires for any signs of wear then rotating them carefully to ensure that they maintain the right balance and alignment.
15. Replace Worn Out Tires
Now that you’ve inspected the tires for any signs of wear, in case any of the tires have an issue, then you need to replace it immediately. As you replace your tires, don’t forget to take care of the spare tire as it also needs to be kept in good condition. Remember, your car’s tire is the only component that gets to contact with the ground. This makes it susceptible to damage meaning regular maintenance will have to be observed to avoid any accidents.
16. Check the Brake Pads and the Rotor
The braking system is another sensitive area that demands regular maintenance. When you hit the brake, what happens is that you apply pressure on the brake fluid forcing it to push the brake pads to get into contact with the rotor. In the process, immense friction is generated which helps to stop a moving vehicle. Since the brake pads and the rotor are usually in contact when the car is in motion, these parts are likely to wear out pretty fast thus calling for sincere attention regularly.
For those that are newcomer drivers, here are some common signs that can tell when your brake pads require some check-up.
- When your car’s steering vibrates whenever you hit the brakes.
- When you hear metal-on-metal grinding sounds.
- When you smell burning rubber whenever you hit the brakes.
- If you hear a high-pitched squealing sound when you hit the brakes.
While all of these signs are just symptoms, the worst case is when you’re unable to stop your car even after pressing the brakes. If this sounds like you, then you need to conduct routine brake checks.
17. Upgrade Your Brake Parts
Your car’s braking system is made up of multiple components that work together to ensure a safe and comfortable ride. Other than the brake pads and the rotor, the braking system comprises of so many parts that start from the brake pedal, the master cylinder, brake caliper, brake lines, wheel cylinder to the pistons among other components.
Now, since the braking system is very complex, most modern vehicles are fitted with multiple sensors that notify you on the dashboard whenever there’s a problem. So, to keep your vehicle well maintained, it’s always good to refer to the manual to know when it’s the best time to upgrade your car’s brake parts.
Taking Care of Oils and Fluids
18. Brake Fluid
The next part of your vehicle that requires regular maintenance is the oils and the fluids. Here, we will start with the most critical fluid which is the brake fluid. The brake fluid is found in a reservoir located at the back of the engine compartment. During your car’s regular maintenance, the first step you should take is to clean the exterior of the reservoir before you open it. When you’re done, open the reservoir to check the level of the fluid. In case it’s too low, you can top it up and in case it’s too dark, then you can replace it with fresh brake fluid.
19. Transmission Fluid
The job of the transmission fluid is to lubricate the transmission to make it easier for you to change the gears when driving. Just like how you do it with other fluids, you need to check the level of the transmission fluid as well as its condition. Remember, transmission fluids come in different types depending on the type of car you’re driving and the transmission (whether it’s an automatic or manual transmission). So, during your maintenance schedule, remember to check the manual to ensure that you get the right transmission oil for your specific car.
20. Windshield Washer Fluid
Unlike the brake fluid, the transmission fluid, and the engine lubricating oil, you won’t need the windshield washer fluid to run your engine. Instead, this fluid plays a key role in cleaning your car’s windshield to make it easier for you to see the road. Unlike the oil and the brake fluid, the windshield washer fluid is very easy to identify, as it’s transparent. By looking at it, you can easily tell whether it needs to be topped up.
Air Conditioning System
21. Run the Air Conditioner Regularly
There are many benefits to having a car air conditioning system in your car. One, it provides cool clean air to your car during the summer, and second, it provides you with warm dehumidifying air during winter. Now, in most cases during summer, most motorists prefer to open their car’s windows to get cool fresh air in rather than switching on the air conditioner.
If this is prolonged, the seals might dry up and get clogged or the condenser might get clogged with all sorts of road debris such as leaves and plastic bags. Worse, off, bacteria, fungus, and microbes might start to grow inside the evaporator core causing the air conditioner to smell whenever it’s switched on. So, to enhance proper maintenance of the air conditioner; always try to run it at least 10 – 20 minutes once every week to prevent it from getting clogged.
22. Schedule Professional Service
Although it’s recommended that you run your car’s air conditioning unit frequently, scheduling a professional service at least once in a while is very important. You see, just like the engine and the braking system, the air conditioning system is very complex as it comprises multiple parts that can get damaged over time. Here, we’re speaking of the condenser, the cooling fan, the seals, the refrigerant, and electrical wiring.
So, during the servicing process, your mechanic will inspect the condenser to remove any clogged debris that has accumulated over time. They will also check the cooling fan to ensure that it’s not chipped or cracked. They will check the fuses and the motor to ensure that they’re not blown or burned out. The electrical system will also need to be double-checked to ensure there’s no faulty electrical wiring or broken wires.
Finally, your mechanic will have to check the compressor and the refrigerant hoses for any leakages. They will also inspect the refrigerant level to determine whether it needs to be topped up or not.
23. Check the Air Conditioning Coolant
The reason why we didn’t mention the air conditioning coolant under the oils and fluids category is that it’s quite different from the rest of the fluids you’ll find in the engine compartment. Now, this air conditioning coolant should not be confused with the radiator coolant, as it is generally a refrigerant whose purpose is to serve your vehicle’s A/C system by cooling down hot air. While other fluids are easily checked by just dipping a dipstick into the respective reservoirs, the air conditioning coolant is checked by using an A/C gauge and a thermometer.
To check the level of the air conditioning refrigerant, the first step is to refer to your car’s manual to check the location of the low-pressure line. Next, activate the A/C unit and set it to the lowest temperature. Open the hood and connect the A/C gauge to the low-pressure line to check the reading. If the reading gets below 25 pounds, then you need to top up the refrigerant.
24. Clean Away Debris
The windshield exterior grill is another part that requires regular maintenance. Other than paying too much attention to the inside components, the exterior too requires to be inspected regularly. You see, during autumn, the windshield is expected to pick up leaves from trees some of which can get through the windshield exterior grills to clog the air conditioning system. To avoid this, you need to clear away such debris regularly.
Something else you need to take care of is the wiper nozzles. You see, when driving in dusty or muddy conditions, small dust or mud particles are likely to get stuck on the wiper nozzles blocking the jets in the process. So, to avoid any disappointments, you need to clean the nozzles regularly by using a soft toothbrush dipped in warm water. You can spray the nozzles with a stream of concentrated compressed air to unblock the nozzle pipes.
25. Clean the Headlights
Having the best headlights doesn’t mean getting the brightest ones that will blind every motorist on the road. Instead, taking care of the headlights is all that is needed to keep up with the standards. So, to take care of your car’s lighting system, the first step you have to take is to clean the headlights thoroughly.
Now, just like your eyes, your car’s headlights provide the right visibility to view the road. When the headlights are dirty, they will appear dim making it hard for you to view the road ahead of you. Thankfully, removing any dirt buildup from your car’s headlights is quite easy using DIY methods.
The first method you can consider is by mixing toothpaste with baking soda. To apply this DIY method, you first need to wash the headlights thoroughly using soap and water. When you’re done, apply the toothpaste/baking soda mixture using your finger on the wet headlights. Use a small brush to scrub the grime off the surface of the headlight until they’re clean. Finally, rinse off the residue with warm water before wiping it with a dry microfiber cloth.
Another method you can consider is by using sandpaper to remove dirt and tough stains on the surface of your headlights. Now, this method is usually very risky and it requires a professional approach or else you’ll end up causing irreparable damage to your headlights. To start, you need to mask the surrounding area of the headlight with masking tape or old newspapers.
Next, start with wet 400-grit sandpaper and warm water. Sand the headlights in a circular motion then change the sandpaper to 600 grit then 2000 grit. After all the dirt has been removed, rinse the headlights with clean water then finalize it by applying protective wax.
26. Take Care of Clouding and Yellowing
One way potential buyers can judge the integrity of your car is by inspecting the condition of the headlights to see whether they’re cloudy or yellowed. But first, what causes the yellowing of the headlights? Now, your car’s headlights comprise polycarbonate lens covers, which over time, lose their protective coating.
What happens next is that yellowing and clouding start to appear due to the sun’s UV rays. In fact, this condition is exacerbated by exposing your vehicle to the sun’s rays for prolonged periods. Thankfully, you can take care of clouding and yellowing by using headlight restoration products available in the market.
27. Check the Alignment
If you thought the tires are the only ones that require to be checked for misalignment, then you’re wrong. Your car’s headlights require regular checkups to ensure they’re not misaligned at any cost. In most cases, your car’s headlights are likely to get misaligned due to vibrations caused by driving on rough terrains for too long. They’re also likely to get misaligned after an accident. Thankfully, this condition can be corrected by consulting a mechanic who will inspect the tires and align them correctly.
28. Check the Illumination
Something else you need to check on when taking care of your vehicle is the illumination. Sometimes, one of the lights can dim up leaving its twin sibling working exceptionally well. In case you don’t realize it, what you’re likely to notice is low visibility when driving your car during the night. While it’s quite difficult to notice low illumination with your headlights, one way you can check this is by parking your car in front of a wall then comparing the brightness level of each headlight.
29. Replace Both Bulbs
In case you need to replace any of the headlight bulbs, always ensure that you replace them in pairs. Now, most of the new drivers might not realize this. However, to most experienced motorists, this is a common-sense idea. You see, if you fail to replace both bulbs, the new bulb is likely to get brighter than the old one. This will result in imbalanced headlight beams that can make it hard for you to view the road ahead.
To oncoming motorists, this can be a very risky experience as it will be totally difficult for them to see your vehicle clearly and determine its position on the road. Therefore, as a safety procedure, always ensure that you replace your car’s headlight bulbs in pairs. This also applies to the brake pads, the shocks, and the wipers, which should also be replaced as pairs.
Maintaining Your Car’s Exterior
30. Wash the Car Frequently
The first thing that will make or ruin the integrity of your car is its first impression. Here, we’re talking of nothing else rather than the exterior of the car which includes the paintwork and the overall detailing. If you’re the kind of person that drives to and from work regularly, then washing your car at least once every week is one way you can maintain its hygiene routinely.
However, washing your car doesn’t mean using any soap solution. Instead, you should be very mindful of the type of soap solutions you’re using to avoid ruining your car’s paintwork. Always research the best car wash soaps that don’t contain harsh chemicals that can ruin your car’s exterior integrity.
31. Don’t Forget to Wax Your Car
First and foremost, why do you need to wax your car? The answer is simple. Waxing your car brings back the former aura and glory of a brand new car. It makes your car more attractive thus upgrading its integrity. Now, washing your car regularly is an integral step in maintaining its hygiene. What you don’t know is that this can ruin your car’s paintwork after some time. If you’re a frequent motorist, exposing your car to extreme UV rays can damage the clear coat on top thus exposing the undercoat to severe corrosion, scratches, and marks.
So, to prevent damaging your car’s paint coating, you need to wax it at least twice annually. Always refer to a professional mechanic for the best wax and always make sure that you follow the right procedure for application.
32. Always Keep Your Car Under Cover
One obvious maintenance tip you should be aware of is parking your vehicle responsibly. If you tend to park your car outside, then you risk exposing it to the elements, which will generally damage the exterior. Factors such as direct sunlight, heavy storm, snow, and hailstorms can easily damage your car’s exterior. In fact, exposing your car to freezing cold temperatures can damage the battery by draining it completely. Thankfully, this can be remedied by parking your car inside a garage or using a car cover to shield it against such weather conditions.
33. Check the Paintwork Frequently
It’s quite normal for your car’s paint coating to fade off as the car ages. Just as we’ve mentioned above, many factors can cause your car’s exterior paint to get ruined. Exposure to the elements is one major factor while the second is washing your car using soap solutions containing tough chemicals. Another factor is when you’re involved in an accident or if your car gets scratched mysteriously.
Whatever the case is, one way you can preserve the integrity of your car’s exterior is by spot-checking the paintwork frequently. In case you detect some areas that need to be repainted, schedule your car for a painting service before the situation gets worse.
Take Care of the Interior
34. Clean the Seats Regularly
It’s usually said that your car is a home on wheels. Other than taking care of the exterior, the interior is another area that can leave critical impression details about the integrity of your auto. One of the maintenance tips you need to check on here is cleaning the seats frequently. For those parents with kids and pets around, cleaning your car’s seats is very important as it helps you to get rid of the dirt that has accumulated over time. Always ensure that you clean the seats thoroughly at least once every month. In case you’re too busy to accomplish the task, then you can simply take the car to a car wash to have it cleaned.
35. Always Remove Stains Immediately
Sometimes spills and messes on the seats can’t be controlled especially if you’re driving with kids and pets. However, there’s a smart way you can keep your seats clean and that’s by removing stains immediately. However, the process of removing these stains can sometimes differ depending on the type of material used in your seats.
For instance, if your car is fitted with leather seats, the process of removing stains is much easier as compared to if you’re using cloth seats. Since you’ll most likely be doing it at home, considering homemade remedies such as using vinegar mixture, non-gel toothpaste, lemon juice, and baking soda can help to clean stains from your car’s seats immediately.
36. Consider Using Vacuum Cleaners
Using a vacuum cleaner, especially those handheld models can help to clean your car’s interior thoroughly. The best thing about these handheld models is that they’re portable and come with various attachments such as brushes that can help suck and clean dirt and dust particles from your seats and carpets.
37. Clean the Headliners and Visors Frequently
While maintaining your car’s interior, one area that usually remains neglected is the headliners and the visors. But, what are these anyway? Well, the headliner is the ceiling covering material that’s usually made of fabric, leather, vinyl, or any other upholstery material. The visor, on the other hand, is what blocks your eyes from direct sunlight when you’re driving in the morning or the evening.
Following frequent driving, the headliner and the visor are likely to become dirty and discolored. They’re also likely to get exposed to smokes, smells, and odors which can get absorbed on the fabrics giving your car an awful smell. So, to keep your car smelling fresh and young, you need to keep a closer eye on these silent areas regularly.
Apart from just cleaning the headliner and the visor, remember to keep an eye on the overall integrity of the interior by fixing any small rips to avoid making the problem bigger in the future.
Power Steering System
38. Inspect the Hoses
On one side, an excellent power steering system makes it easier for you to control your auto, while on the other side; a faulty power steering makes it extremely difficult for you to control your vehicle. The antidote? Well, the first thing is to inspect the high and low-pressure hoses. You see, for the power steering to work perfectly, it needs to be lubricated properly. The lubrication process is conducted by two hoses, which are high and low-pressure hoses. The high-pressure hose supplies the hydraulic fluid to the power steering system while the low-pressure hose returns it back to the fluid tank at low-pressure.
Since these hoses are usually overworked with circulating hydraulic fluid to and fro, regular wear and tear on these hoses is almost inevitable something that can cause leakage. So, to prevent any leakage, these hoses need to be checked periodically to ensure they’re intact and in good shape.
39. Inspect the Power Steering Fluid
Unlike the engine oil and the transmission fluid, the power steering fluid remains relatively clean for quite a long time. Although the system has a filter, sometimes it becomes overwhelming for the filter to sieve out debris and other filler from the fluid. What this means is that debris is likely to build up over time causing the steering fluid to get too contaminated.
As a result, this can cause serious damages to the fluid lines, the hoses, the pump, and the cylinder itself. Since such damages can be quite expensive to repair, inspecting the steering fluid occasionally can help to prevent such problems. All you need is to flush the fluid once you find out it’s dark and has particles floating around it.
40. Check for Any Fluid Leaks
Your car’s power steering highly depends on the hydraulic fluid to work perfectly. In case there’s inefficient fluid, then it simply means that you might run into trouble with your car. Now, one common cause of low fluid levels in your steering system is leakage. This can happen in the hoses, the pump, the cylinder, or the steering rack seals. So, to prevent this leakage, you need to countercheck your power steering system for cracks or any cases of wear regularly.
41. Check the Power Steering Pump
The power steering system is normally powered by a belt running from the engine’s crankshaft to the pump itself. Since the belt is made of rubber, it’s likely to wear out over time causing it to crack and eventually break. This alone can cause malfunctioning of the pump thus preventing it from pumping sufficient steering fluid to the entire power steering system.
As part of your routine maintenance, always ensure that you keep a close eye on the belt for any signs of wear. In addition to the belt, make sure that you inspect the condition of the power steering fluid to ensure that it’s clean.
The Suspension System
42. Shock Absorbers
The suspension system is another immensely huge system that comprises hundreds of different parts working together. Their main purpose is to hold the vehicle up, absorb bumps and potholes and finally, turn the car in response to your input. Since shock absorbers are the ones responsible for providing that smooth ride even in rough terrains, they’re likely to wear out over time if not maintained perfectly. Therefore, scheduling regular maintenance every 36,000 – 60,000 miles is highly important.
43. Bushings and Joints
Most of the suspension parts are cushioned with rubber bushings to help absorb shock when the car is in motion. As your car ages, these bushings start to get exhausted something that affected the drivability of your beloved car. Thankfully, this condition can be taken care of simply by inspecting all the rubber bushings and the joints from the tie rod end, track bars, sway bars, strut rods to the control rods.
44. Ball Joints
Another essential maintenance tip you need to observe is inspecting the ball joints. Thankfully, this can be accomplished quite easily by paying close attention to the steering wheel to see whether there are any vibrations when driving. You can also listen to any banging sounds when driving. If this is what you’re experiencing, then you need to hire a mechanic who will inspect the ball joints further by removing the tires to reach the ball joints and check for cases of leakages, corrosion, or damaged rubber boots.
45. The Springs
Every car has springs, which are designed to support the vehicle and still absorb any shock when driving. When inspecting the shock absorbers, you also need to check the condition of the springs.
46. Check the Exhaust System
If the exhaust system is not checked regularly, it can easily wear out causing a lot of harmful emissions. Sometimes, these emissions can proceed to sneak inside your car, which can be very dangerous since they contain carbon monoxide. Therefore, this part requires regular maintenance to cut down harmful emissions.
47. RepairChips Immediately
Small chips, cracks, and worn-out parts need to be repaired immediately to avoid making the situation worse. Failure to repair these small chips will lead to huge cracks, which will cost you a lot of money to repair.
48. Clean the Wipers Regularly
Although most people are not aware, your car’s wipers should be replaced every 3 – 6 months depending on where you live. If you live in places that experience frequent sandstorms or snow, replacing as well as cleaning your wipers regularly will be essential to avoid damaging your windscreen.
49. Check the Antifreeze
If you live in extremely cold regions, you need to check the antifreeze frequently. Just as its name suggests, the antifreeze is intended to prevent the water circulating through your engine from freezing. Remember, if the water freezes, then it will generally expand causing serious harm to the engine.
50. Check Your Emergency Kit
If you frequently drive in remote regions, you need to have an emergency kit ready in your vehicle. This is a smart way of guaranteeing your safety when driving especially if you’re driving on dangerous weather conditions such as freezing cold weather.
If you have read this guide up to this point, then you have everything that’s needed to keep your auto looking young and in good condition. Just as we mentioned at the beginning, our first two points play a critical role in the health of your car. The first was the manual (which is your car’s bible) while the second is learning how to read the various dashboard signs. By having these two pointers at your fingertips, you’ll be able to know your car better by understanding its limitations.
Lastly, if things get out of hand where regular maintenance becomes too costly, then you might consider upgrading your drive by trading your auto with something younger and more reliable.