Life would be so simple if all you ever had to do was put gas in your car and drive. But life is never that easy. Yes, our cars require a bit more attention than that. Sure, technology has improved and cars require less maintenance than they did a decade ago. But as we shift gears for seasonal vehicle maintenance, it is vital that your car in be in perfect shape and ready for the changing weather. It will guarantee efficient, stress-free, safe driving for the entire year.
For every new season, some components will need special attention for them to work at their best. Summer and winter, the two most crucial seasons for any car, have the most effect on vehicles because of severe temperatures. For the sweltering summer, your A/C System becomes your favorite feature in your car. Of course, it requires special car maintenance. Before long, the years ends, and the cold, blustery weather rolls in, and you welcome your heating system to guard you against the arctic winter wind. However, before those first flakes of snow appear, you must also prepare and winterize your car, every winter.
Winter and summer are the two seasonal extremes. Specifically, for your car to be in its tip-top shape regardless of the season, prepare your car for the changing seasons with the following list:
- Maintain your coolant/antifreeze level to its required level.
- Check tire pressure and tire tread. Tire pressure is best checked after driving the vehicle for fifteen minutes. Your tires must have the required pressure to be properly inflated. During cold seasons, the pressure inside your tires usually drops because the air tends to contract. For winter maintenance, it is a prudent decision to replace regular tires with studded or winter tires for the tough weather and roads.
- Check your A/C System. Before summer begins, drive your car to your mechanic to check for refrigerant levels. Also check to see if the A/C needs recharging to efficiently cool the incoming hot summer air.
- Check if your windshield wiper blades need replacement. Wiper blades should be replaced at least once a year at least before the winter season begins.
- Check your battery. If your battery is more than three years old, bring it to your mechanic to check if the alternator still has good capacity and output. Battery terminals are prone to corrosion so make sure that it is corrosion-free.
- Inspect your brakes. It is a smart move to have your braking system checked every six months. For severe weather conditions, your brakes should also be in pristine working condition.
- Check the transmission. Transmission service should be done every two years or 30,000 miles on cars with automatic transmissions. The tranny service includes changing ATF and replacing the transmission the pan gasket and filter in the transmission.
Seasonal, preventative maintenance will save you money in the long run. It will decrease the chances of getting stuck on the side of the road or having an accident. One mistake behind the wheel will ruin your whole day.
The Importance of Brake Maintenance
Odd as it may seem, many car owners are in complete shock and dismay when they discover their car needs work. It’s true, parts wear out or simply break. Even your brakes. Honest, it’s normal.
All cars need new brakes periodically. It all comes down to your driving habits and where you live. People who live in Manhattan can expect to get new brakes more often than people who live in Iowa. Cars with automatic transmission need brakes more often than manual transmission cars. Trucks and heavier vehicles wear out brakes quicker than small, economy cars.
It is important to listen to the sounds that your brakes make when you press on the brake pedal. If there is a shrill, squeaking noise, it could be because of friction from the brake lining. Under severe conditions, this can break down the pads, lining, brake drums, and rotors. So, if you start to hear a noise, get the brakes checked!
Whether or not you hear a noise, it is important to have your brakes checked once a year. When the brakes are checked, the rear drum brakes should be adjusted if they are not the self-adjusting type. Cars with four-wheel disc brakes have no adjustment, although you can get the parking brake adjusted. If you are doing a lot of city driving or you drive in a mountainous or hilly area, it is important to have the brakes checked every six months.
For the car’s brake and clutch, the material on the brake pads and shoes and the lining of the clutch disc are made from the same stuff. If the clutch is slipping, needs to be replaced because there really is no more clutching material left, or the brakes are getting too hot, you will smell an odd, noxious, and peculiar scent that negates the royal-pine car freshener hanging from your rear-view mirror, this scent may make you think you are driving through an apocalyptic, industrial wasteland. Its a miasma that is hard to describe, but usually occurs after driving through hilly regions or in heavy stop and go traffic.
For proper brake maintenance, the following are some gentle, but firm tips:
- Always set the parking brake so your car does not roll down a hill and hit a Porsche.
- Use the ABS (antilock brakes) every couple of months—that is, stop short, akin to panicking and suddenly stopping. The brake pedal should pulsate.
- Trying to save money by extending the time between brake checks will lead to the need to replace whole parts of the brake system, which can be extremely costly.
- Avoid sudden stops.
- Do not ride the brakes.
- Do not speed up for stop signs.
If you suspect anything may be wrong with your brakes, it is highly suggested that you have your car inspected at a trusted repair shop with ASE Certified Technicians. It is common sense, and checking the brakes should be part of your basic car maintenance. Remember that maintenance of your brakes is important for safety reasons. With brakes, you can never be too careful.
Benefits of Preventive Maintenance
Like it or not, owning a car, for most people, is a fact of life. Moreover, as a society, we are dependent on our cars. We think of vehicles as remarkable pieces of machinery that are never to fail us; that will be there for us every day, no matter the weather. A well-maintained vehicle speaks volumes about the owner; it’s a reflection of who we are, our personality, never to desert us in our hour of need.
Sometimes, though, we do not treat our cars with the love and respect they deserve. Hard as it may be to believe, many people refuse to carry out preventive maintenance on their vehicles. Not all of us are that handy; great majorities of us has little knowledge of cars and are intimidated from doing such maintenance.
It seems easier to avoid such preventative maintenance because people prefer to avoid the work and the effort it requires. Still others simply lack the time or resources to perform preventive maintenance on their cars. Whatever the reasons, there are many benefits to checking and maintaining the performance of your vehicles’ brakes, tires, and other parts.
Basics of Preventative Maintenance
There are many benefits to taking proper care of your vehicle. First, you can easily prolong the life of your car if you take time to have critical parts maintained. Like your body, your car can become “unhealthy” to the point where it simply stops performing.
Let’s consider the many benefits to taking proper care of vehicle:
- Maintenance of your car requires more than tune-ups and remembering to change your oil. To avoid costly repairs, set up a schedule for your vehicle and keep track of what it needs. Just as we have to take care of ourselves to be healthy, our cars can become unhealthy to the point where it stops performing;
- At some point, you will end up selling your car. When we grow tired of cars or desire a new model, we sell the car to another party. Obviously, a vehicle that is well cared for will command a higher selling price than a vehicle that is ready for the junkyard. Usually, the small amount of time and effort it takes to maintain your car is well compensated by the higher resale value you will enjoy when you sell it; and
- Performing preventative maintenance will save money over the years. For example, having the oil changed every 3,000 miles often helps your car use fuel more efficiently. This increased efficiency can help you get better gas mileage.
What to Maintain in Your Vehicle
The tires are a good place to start: checking for bald spots and pressure can prevent a tire from blowing while on the road. This helps you avoid costly tow trucks and repairs. In addition, keeping your suspension and steering well-maintained can prevent them from falling into such disrepair that repairing them becomes cost-prohibitive.
It is important to have your cooling system flushed and antifreeze levels maintained. Coolants added to your car to help maintain the life of your water pump and radiator. Be sure to have your car’s belts and hoses inspected every 40,000 miles.
Driving a lot, you may want to have your brakes checked more often (every 12,000 miles is a good idea). Regularly inspect your tires for bald spots and pressure. Make sure the pressure levels are maintained, as this will extend the life of your tires. Have them rotated twice a year.
There are numerous steps to take to ensure you car lasts a long time, maintains a higher resale value, and doesn’t leave you stranded on the side of the road. Even doing a little preventive maintenance on a regular basis can yield big dividends in both time and money each year. If you take into consideration the time and effort required to this maintenance, it is very little. In the end, it is a worthwhile investment.