Don’t forget that April is National Car Care Month. Now is the time to give your car, truck or SUV some extra attention to ensure it is road ready for the summer. Basic maintenance is vital when it comes to the safety and dependability of your vehicle, plus it can help avoid costly repairs in the future.
“Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Chances are if you own a car, it needs some work. National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle’s maintenance needs.”
There are many ways to take care of your vehicle and help prevent irreparable damage. The Car Care Council recommends 10 basic maintenance procedures to keep your car operating at its best:
- Check the oil, filters and fluids. Oil should be checked at every fill-up and changed per the owner’s manual recommended intervals. Brake, transmission, power steering, coolant and windshield washer fluids should also be checked regularly. Your car’s filters, including those for the transmission, fuel system and interior ventilation, need regular inspection and replacement.
- Inspect hoses at each oil change and have them replaced when leaking, brittle, cracked, rusted, swollen or restricted. Check V-belts and serpentine belts for looseness and condition, and have them replaced when cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear. Typically replace the timing belt between 60,000 and 90,000 miles or the interval specified in the owner’s manual to avoid a breakdown or serious engine damage.
- Check the engine brake system every year and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
- Check that the battery connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free. The battery should be securely mounted. If it is three years old or more, the battery should be tested and replaced if necessary.
- Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
- Schedule a tune-up that will help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
- Check the car’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting.
- Inspect the steering and suspension system annually, including shock absorbers and struts, and chassis parts, such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
- Check the pressure of all tires, including the spare, at least once a month. Check the tread for uneven or irregular wear and cuts and bruises along the sidewalls. Have your car’s alignment checked at least annually to reduce tire wear and improve fuel economy and handling.
- Test exterior and interior lights and have bulbs that are not working checked immediately. Replace windshield wiper blades every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking or chattering for optimum wiping performance and safety.
The last recommended tip is to invest in a set of custom fit floor mats for the front seat and back seat of your vehicle. These replace the factory carpet mats and ensure that your floorboards are protected from spills, debris and everyday wear and tear.
This advice should help give you the peace of mind to pioneer on this summer and take that adventure you’ve always dreamed about.