Keeping your car carefully maintained and fully serviced is vital for extending its life and reducing repair bills over the long term. But not all maintenance needs to involve the expense of a qualified auto mechanic. There are three areas of car health which anyone can monitor with ease, but will help to keep your vehicle running smoothly and safely.
Your car’s tires are fundamental to its performance and safety and should be inspected regularly to ensure they’re in good condition. Start off by checking the tire pressures at least once a month, and topping them up with air if needed. Keeping your car’s tires properly inflated reduces wear and tear to extend their life, improves grip for better safety, and cuts fuel consumption for lower costs at the gas station.
But there’s more to tire maintenance than just pressure. Tread depth is essential for a safe grip, especially under slippery conditions, and checking it should become a regular habit. All the treads on each tire should be at least 1/16th of an inch deep to be legal, and preferably a little deeper to give an extra margin for safety.
And what’s more, the depth should be relatively even across the whole of each tire’s surface, and also across each tire. Any spots of shallow tread will make handling more unpredictable and increase the risks of accidents. Tires will wear out at different rates under normal use, but tire rotation as part of regular servicing will help to even this effect out.
Lastly, for tires, any bulges, cracks, or bubbles in the rubber’s surface should be dealt with immediately by booking an appointment at your local tire change center. Even small problems in the tire structure can lead to dangerous blowouts when the rubber is under stress at high speeds.
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2) Under the Hood
Maintaining the engine itself is a job best left to an expert, but there’s plenty that any driver can look after under the hood. First, take a look at the various belts and hoses that connect the different parts of the mechanics together. If any of them look damaged or frayed or even just discolored, it’s best to check in to a repair shop to have them replaced. The cost will be tiny compared to the damage that a complete failure of worn-out components could cause.
Next, check that your coolant levels are high enough so that your engine is protected from overheating. This is easy to do using the scale on the side of the coolant reservoir, but always wait until the engine is fully cooled down before measuring.
Lastly, the oil level is also easy to check on most modern cars. If the level gets too low, topping it up is also easy. However, if you need to add oil frequently between service appointments, it could be a sign of a leak in the system, and you should have it checked out.
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3) Lights and Electrical Features
Lastly, the final round of checks involves the lights and other electrical features. Every so often, check that all the interior and exterior lights work as they’re supposed to. Look for any unexpected dimming when you turn on an electrical feature like the air conditioning, as this could indicate a battery that’s failing to supply enough charge. Do all the internal electronics work properly, especially when the engine is first turned on? Any strange behavior early in a drive could again be a sign that the electrical system isn’t receiving enough power, and that the battery may need replacing.
Lastly, turn on the climate control, air conditioning, or heating system, and check for any strange odors or noises as you move through the different settings. Problems might be as minor as a dirty filter that needs changing, but it’s better to catch any issue early to be on the safe side.
There’s no substitute for scheduled servicing by qualified auto mechanics, but every little extra you can do in between expert appointments can make your car run more smoothly, increase its safety, and cut down on repair bills.