As busy adults, we have a lot going on, so most of us don't have expertise in plumbing, computers, or vehicle maintenance. We hire professionals to manage these concerns for us. That said, you rely on your car for essential tasks like getting you to work each day. While you'll certainly need regular professional checkups to keep it in good working order, there's also a lot you can do to ensure optimal performance and avoid problems in between. Here are a few regular vehicle maintenance tasks every driver should perform.
Fluids become filthy and depleted over time, compromising engine performance and resulting in even bigger concerns if they aren't changed regularly. While your mechanic will check and change fluids for you during servicing, you should check oil, coolant, wiper, and brake fluid about once a month to make sure they're within acceptable levels.
These tasks are easily performed by pulling out a dipstick or simply checking to see if fluid reaches the "full" guide lines on transparent containers. During vehicle servicing, your mechanic will refill or replace fluids as needed, but you may need to top them off in the meantime.
Checking your oil filter isn't an option for most people, since it's usually buried deep in the engine compartment. This is a task best left to your mechanic, and the oil filter is typically replaced at the same time as engine oil.
You can, however, check the air filter regularly to ensure that clean, uncontaminated air is reaching the engine, ensuring proper performance and preventing unnecessary wear. The location of the air filter varies by vehicle make and model, but it's typically near the top front of the engine compartment, making it easy to check and replace.
Tire pressure and depth are important, as they both play a role in vehicle performance and both can lead to blowouts if not properly managed. As with fluids, you'll want to check tire pressure and depth monthly. If you notice low pressure repeatedly, you could have a leak, and if wear is significant, it may be time to rotate or replace tires. Your mechanic will help you to manage these concerns, but checking on your own between services is wise.
Headlights, tail lights, and signal lights are essential to safe vehicle operation, and when lights are out, you risk both tickets and accidents. Checking all of your lights once a month is easy with the help of another person. Simply turn on the engine and have a family member or friend walk around the car to make sure headlights and tail lights are on. Then press the brakes and put the car in reverse. If there are any problems, contact your mechanic immediately to schedule repairs.
Regular washing goes a long way toward preserving the protective coating on your car, but waxing twice a year helps to protect against everything from dirt and debris to the sun's UV rays. Keeping your car beautiful and performing at optimal levels is as easy as conducting regular vehicle maintenance and visiting your mechanic for regular checkups.