All kinds of vehicles need proper maintenance to get them working smoothly and to maximize their lifespan. Maintenance is also important for your safety. While each manufacturer and model have their set of standards, service and maintenance needs are quite similar for all.
Basic car maintenance isn’t that difficult. There are things you can do on your own, while others may require a professional mechanic. To kickstart things for you, here’s a list of stuff that you should check which will guide you through proper car maintenance:
Check your tires.
Ideally, you should check your tire pressures at least once a month or even more regularly. Tire pressure refers to how air pressure is in the tire. Having the right amount of air pressure in your tires is an important safety need.
If the tires are not even in pressure, it affects the stability, braking, and it compromises cornering. It could also lead to tire failure and possibly, an accident. You should also check tread depth because it can become too low over time.
- Too much air in your tire, your car ride will probably be more bouncy because less tire touches the ground.
- On the other hand, if it is too low, it means a lot of the tire touches the ground. That causes a lot of friction between the tire and the road, which could promote the premature wearing of your tires.
Check your fluid levels
Oil levels are critical for your engine because if it’s too high or too low, it can cause trouble. Engine oil lubricates, and oil cools the engine and prevents parts from grinding against each other.
First, make sure you park your car on level ground. Then, locate the dipstick and pull it out and wipe it clean. Check where the high or low markers. Finally, push it back in until the top sits properly on the dip tube again. Pull it out for a moment and check the level markers if it is high, low, or still good.
How often to change the oil depends on what kind of vehicle you have, but every three to five thousand miles should be good.
Coolant is another thing your engine needs because it prevents it from overheating. The coolant reservoir is usually easy to find because they are labeled. However, if it does not have a label, check with your handbook to see where the coolant reservoir is.
To check the coolant levels, wait for your engine to cool, then take a look at the markings outside the reservoir. There should be markings “low” or “full” and you can easily identify if is high or low because the container is translucent. If it is low, simply add coolant solution to it.
Check your lights
Your car has a lot of lights: headlights, dome light, brake lights, signal lights, etc. However, for safety purposes, the lights you should often check are the headlights and signal lights. Also, you could get a fine or a ticket if you’re caught with broken lights.
You may think that you would need to take it to a professional, but you can actually do it yourself. It’s much cheaper to do it yourself, and you can find instructions for bulb replacements in your car manual.
There are three basic steps in changing lights: find access to the bulb, remove the old bulb, then replace with a new one. However, how to do them exactly may vary from car to car. Check your manual for more details on this.
Here are tips on changing headlights and other lights in your car:
- Find out what type of bulb your car can take or what the manufacturer recommends. There is halogen, HID, LED, and Laser headlamps you can choose from. Auto parts stores should be able to tell you if you need, let’s say, an H11 bulb for your car or something else.
- Don’t touch the bulb when changing headlights because when you leave traces of oil, it could cause it to crack. Instead, hold the metal bulb holder at the base or make sure to use clean mechanic gloves or rubber gloves if you’re touching the glass.
- Even if only one light is not working, you should replace both sides to avoid uneven illumination.
- You may also want to clean the headlight cover for any debris or dirt. It will eliminate blockages and give better light because dirt often intensifies glare.
Check your electrical system
The electrical system powers a lot of the components of your vehicle.It includes the battery, alternator, and starters. It’s difficult to diagnose electrical problems so you may need to take it to a shop, but most usually begin with the battery.
Batteries can last for up to three to seven years. As a safety precaution, you may want to change it around four years or before you encounter any problems. Here are some instances that indicate you need to check your car’s electrical system:
- Your engine won’t start. You may hear a clicking or grinding sound when turning the key.
- Interior or dashboard lights aren’t lighting up properly.
- Headlights are dim or not working, even if the bulbs are new.
- Your dashboard warning lights show an electrical fault light.
If you are not confident or certain, maybe it’s better if you take it to the shop to prevent further damage. You can ask if you can watch and learn from them as they do it. We know you want to learn so you can do it yourself because car shops can be expensive.
Maintaining your vehicle is important because it promotes safety and helps prevent accidents. It also helps improve your car’s longevity. Every car is different in many ways, but maintenance is similar in most of them.
The bottom line is you should regularly check your vehicle. Fluid levels, tires, lights, and electric system are just some of the things to check. Don’t forget the brakes and steering too! Take the warning lights on your dashboard seriously and respond to them as soon as possible.