Nowadays, cars do not need as much attention as they did five decades ago. But you should not let this give you a false sense of security. There are still many things that you need to take care of when it comes to your vehicle.
You know that keeping your car well maintained is critical. If you take a look at your vehicle’s manual, there are enough maintenance points and service reminders to make your head spin. The sparkling news is that there are a few key areas that will keep your car running safely and reliably for many years.
Here is a look at 3 of the most important items to maintain in your vehicle:
- Oil – People often say that oil is your engine’s life blood. But this is not really true because, unless you are seriously sick, you do not need to change your blood. It is oil that keeps your engine’s parts working properly and rotating smoothly. Over time, the oil gets contaminated by exhaust gases from the cylinders as well as small bits of metal, thus reducing its effectiveness.
- Heat from the engine also causes the oil to break down. Just like other fluids, heat will reduce the oil’s viscosity and if the oil becomes too thin, the engine will not be lubricated as well as it should be and parts will wear out faster.
- The old rule of changing your oil every 3,000 miles, or 3 months, does not apply anymore. Many vehicles made nowadays can go 5,000 or even 10,000 miles before the oil needs to be changed. Consult your owner’s manual to find out how long your vehicle can go between oil changes. Many modern cars have a complex monitoring system that assesses your driving habits and different aspects of your oil to determine how long it will last.
- Air Filter – Your engine does not get the air it requires when dust and dirt clog up your air filters. When your air filter gets clogged, it can lower not just your gas mileage but also horsepower. It can also make your engine run rough and stall out. You need to make sure that you change your air filter regularly so that this does not happen. Your car has to be able to breathe effectively.
- It is quintessential that you must change your air filter regularly. But in what frequency depends on two major factors – average miles you drive a year and the atmospheric conditions in which you drive. Most manufacturers recommend changing the filter every 5,000 miles. But you can wait as many vehicles tend to be quite fine for anywhere between 7,000 to 10,000 miles. However, remember that if you often drive in severe conditions, such as urban areas with lots of dust from construction or rural dirt roads, you will probably need to change your air filter more frequently.
- If your engine is not in the best shape, e.g. oil burns under the hood, the filter can get contaminated by those fumes as well. In extreme circumstances, conditions like these can make your filter unusable in as little as 1,000 miles.
- Brake Pads – Brakes are obviously integral, but this does not mean that they are complex. When it comes to brakes, many people take a hands-off approach and think that what any mechanic or professional from the dealerships says is gospel.
- There is only ONE thumb rule you should bear in mind when it comes to increasing the longevity of your brake pads – there are no rules. There are certain factors that determine how often you will need to change your brake pads such as the weight of your vehicle, your driving style, the quality of the brake pads, your style of driving you do, and the condition of your brake rotors.
- Obviously, if you are an aggressive driver, you will tend to use the brakes more often and thereby wear them out more quickly than normal. Also, if you live in hilly terrain or drive in constant stop and go traffic, you will use the brakes more often and again, this will wear them out faster than normal.
- So how do you know when to change your brake pads? You could take your car to one of the many car shops in your area that offer free brake inspections. But sadly, if they are even a little less honest than their advertisements claim, they will say that you need new pads even when you really do not. You should have someone you can trust when it comes to your car. You want to be able to trust your doctor, dentist, car mechanic, computer repair pro, and so on. Moreover, some vehicles have built-in electronic monitors or wear indicators that will let you know when you need new brake pads.
There are many other parts on your car that will need maintenance at some point in its life. Tires, various fluids, bearings, bushings, and engine components all need replacing or touching up from time to time. You can ignore some aspects for a while, other aspects practically forever. Keeping these three at the top of your list of things to maintain will keep your vehicle safe and on the road a lot longer than you might think.