Thanks to our technologically advancing society, improvements in the modern vehicle and its components have extended the typical age of a car by 12 years. Of course, the make, model, and year of your vehicle contribute to your car’s longevity, but there are several things you can do to keep up with its proper care and maintenance. Proper care and maintenance will keep your car driving smoothly for many years and will potentially save you thousands of dollars in repairs later down the road. These seven tips will guide you as you learn how to maintain your vehicle and help it last a long time.
Regular Oil Changes
Changing your oil regularly will help your car stay lubricated, which will reduce the amount of heat produced by the engine. Oil changes also remove debris and dirt that causes your engine to run slower. A debris-free engine makes a massive difference in the life of your car. If your engine heats up from old oil, eventually, it will stop working correctly and lead to more significant problems. Oil changes also help save money on gas, and that’s much needed with the rising gas prices. Old oil slows the engine down and uses up gas quicker. If your engine stays properly oiled, your car may go even farther than you thought.
Rotate and Inspect Your Tires
Your tires are one of the most critical components when performing regular car maintenance. After all, your tires are what keep you moving on the road! You should check your tires once a month for routine maintenance and more frequently if you drive on harsh conditions (extremely cold and hot climates, uneven roads). Just like we wrote in our previous post about protecting your car from the Arizona sun and heat, tires are likely to blow out because of the increased temperatures and heat of your tires and the road. Therefore, it’s important to regularly check your tire pressure and inspect the actual tires. Arizona tires usually last 3-4 years or when driven 40,000 miles. Keep track of the life of your tires, especially if you live in Arizona so that you can prevent a future dangerous blowout.
Additionally, check the tread on your tires and visually inspect the alignment. To make your tires last as long as they should, get them rotated regularly, every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. You should always inspect and rotate your tires with a professional autobody shop, but you can check your tire tread depth with a penny. Insert a standard U.S. penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing down and out. If you are able to see all of Lincoln’s face, your tread depth is below 2/32 of an inch, and you need new tires. Do this in multiple locations of the tire to be safe and repeat the process on all four tires. If there is a significant difference between the tires, this might indicate your alignment is off. As always, confirm what you’ve seen, heard, and learned about your vehicle with experts at your local autobody shop.
Check the Six Fluids
The six important fluids to regularly check are engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Check these regularly to ensure proper vehicle function and especially longevity. Engine oil is responsible for keeping everything lubricated and smoothly in motion. Coolant keeps the engine cool in the hot summer months of Arizona and keeps it from freezing during our desert winters. Power steering fluid is responsible for easy steering measurability, and brake fluid is the catalyst that allows your car to stop when you step on the brake. Transmission fluid cools and lubricates its components, and windshield washer fluid allows you to see clearly when you drive. As you can see, all six of these fluids should be topped off and regularly inspected to improve your vehicle and helps it last for a long time. You should check your fluids when you get an oil change, making it easy to keep up with this important maintenance step.
Replace Your Windshield Wipers
Depending on where you live is a factor that goes into how often you should replace your windshield wipers. It’s essential to learn when to change your wiper blades to save your money, prevent you from damaging your windshield glass, and, most importantly, keep you safer. Most windshield wiper manufacturers recommend they get replaced every six to twelve months; some say the blades last two to three years. There are four easy signs to tell if you need new wipers. These signs are squeaking noises, vibration noises, excessive streaking, and wet spots. Bad windshield wipers can cause a wide range of issues leading to more repair costs in the future. Broken wiper blades don’t clean your windshield well, and this can be dangerous in a snowstorm, heavy thunderstorm, or even an Arizona monsoon. If there is no wiper between the metal part of the wiper arm and your windshield, this will scratch the glass, causing more expensive repairs.
There are three factors that go into how often you should change your windshield wipers: usage, environment, and storage. Usage is obviously the more often you use them, the more often you need to replace them. The environment speaks to the kind of weather you drive in. Heat causes the rubber to expand, and cold causes it to contract. A lack of moisture will also cause the rubber to dry out, crack, and be brittle. Where you store your car is the final contributing factor. If you park your car outside, the UV rays from the sun will break down the rubber, causing you to need new wipers sooner than later.
Check the Engine Air Filter
Your engine air filter is essential to maintaining your car’s performance. It prevents small debris and particles from entering the engine and preventing expensive damage. It not only protects the engine but also increases fuel efficiency, reduces emissions, and prolongs your engine’s life. It is recommended that you replace your air filters at least every 12,000 to 15,000 miles, but if you drive in dusty conditions regularly, you should replace it more often. A common sign your car will tell you when you need to change the engine air filter is a decrease in gas mileage.
Your engine requires great airflow, and when the air filter is dirty, it’s hard for the air to get in; as a result, the engine will work harder. After a while, you’ll notice that you must fill up your gas tank more often than previously. Additionally, when your air filter is dirty, and air can’t get through to the engine, it stops up your spark plugs, leading to ignition problems. You can visually check your air filter to see if it looks dirty or full of debris. Brand new air filters are typically white or off-white. If you see a gray filter full of dirt, it is time for a new one!
Check Your Brakes
Your brakes should be in perfect working condition for obvious reasons! It’s not that we take our brakes for granted, but we assume they should always work properly when driving. This is true if you keep up with the maintenance and care of your car by including a brake check. You can look at your brake pads through your wheel spokes, and you should see at least ¼ inch of the pad. As always, don’t make any decisions checking your vehicle without an opinion from a professional. Four things to keep an eye out for are pulling, vibrations, grinding, and reduced responsiveness of your brakes. The general rule for replacing your brake pads is every 10,000 to 20,000 miles to keep wear to a minimum. In addition, you should replace your rotors every 50,000 to 70,000 miles.
Clean Your Vehicle
To protect the interior and exterior of your car from scratches, clean your car often. Frequent washing removes dust, minerals, bugs, and dirt that can cause micro scratches that dull your car’s finish and scratch the paint. In addition, minerals and bugs can react to high temperatures and cause the paint to fade. Waxing your car is also a great idea, and it acts like sunscreen to protect the exterior of the car. In addition, waxing the exterior helps lock in the natural oils from the paint and gives the paint longevity. You should wax your car a minimum of twice a year. Cleaning the interior and exterior of your vehicle is a very simple way to give your car longevity and keep it looking great in the process.
Regular oil changes, rotating and inspecting your tires, checking the six fluids, replacing your windshield wipers, checking the engine air filter, checking your brakes, and cleaning your vehicle regularly will set your vehicle on the path of longevity.