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10 Things to Consider When Routinely Maintaining Your Car or Van

10 Things to Consider When Routinely Maintaining Your Car or Van
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Congratulations! You’ve taken an important step towards improving your vehicle and extending its life. Regular maintenance is hugely important in maintaining the health and dignity of your vehicle, and will ultimately save you in the long run. You also won’t have to worry about failing emissions dozens of times before finally passing.

Now that you’ve made the choice to regularly maintaining your vehicle, there are some important things to thing about and consider.

1. What does the owner’s manual say?

It’s deeply important that your vehicle is maintained and meets emissions regulations to avoid running into bigger problems later on.

Whether it’s a new toy, a new stove or a new car, everything comes with an owner’s manual. Yet the most important manual is the one that comes with your car. I Drive Safely recommends dusting off the manual and checking to see what the maintenance section of the book says. That will give you a good outline of the car’s needs and how often they need to be addressed.

2. Are your tires okay?

I Drive Safely says that you should be checking your tires monthly. A quick checkup every four weeks will alert to any problems with your tires (i.e. they’re bald or deflating quickly), which you can bring up the next time you bring in your car for maintenance.

3. Is the check engine light on?

This one may seem obvious, but many ignore the check engine light, especially if it seemingly turns off on its own after a while. If the check engine light comes on even just for a bit, Advanced Auto Parts suggests a quick inspection, either by you or from a garage. However, at your next car appointment, be sure to address the light coming on at all. It may have been a fluke, but it may also have been the precursor to a more serious problem with your car.

4. Are the battery and cables okay?

Continuing with Advanced Auto Parts’ piece, the battery and cables are also something to consider. AAP suggests taking a look at both every three months. A car battery doesn’t last forever as you know, and it’s better to catch a faulty or dying battery than having to deal with the aftermath of a battery spontaneously dying.

5. Are you low on fluids?

A car needs a lot of fluids to run. When you discuss car fluids with a person, they’re likely going to think just of windshield wiper fluid and brake fluid. And while both are equally important and must be monitored frequently – AAP recommends checking wiper fluid every three months, for example – it’s also important to take other fluids into account.

Power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid are less-discussed fluids that must also be checked frequently, at every three and six months, respectively.

If you’re losing any fluid in your car too quickly, it’s definitely something to consider discussing at your next car maintenance appointment.

6. Have you checked the oil?

Another important one; monitoring oil levels in your car is hugely important to maintaining your vehicle’s health. Leaving a car with little oil can lead to engine problems. This is a problem that can be easily avoided by checking oil levels yourself and scheduling an oil change when needed.

7. How often are you using your car?

While the basic rule of thumb of using a car often to keep it operating is true, it’s also important to note the problems that can arise with a frequently-used car. How often a car is used is a factor in the tread wear patterns on your tires. The more often a car is used, the more likely you’re going to need more tire rotations. Take into account how often you drive your car, and be sure to inspect your tires every so often.

8. Is the service engine light on?

Many cars come with a service engine light to alert the driver that it’s almost time for the car to be brought in for maintenance. This light will appear on the dash with all other alert lights. It’s greatly important to not ignore this light for too long, to avoid small problems becoming bigger ones.

9. Is the anti-lock brake system light on?

The anti-lock brake system is a hugely important braking system that prevents the car from skidding or sliding all over the place when you drive over a less than perfect road. This can include wet or rainy roads, snowy roads, or icy roads. When this braking system fails, this is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, and definitely is important when it comes to maintaining the safety of your vehicle.

Although there are many lights that alert you of problems happening within the vehicle, the anti-lock brake system and the aforementioned service and check engine lights are by far the most important.

10. Keep a vehicle maintenance log

Most don’t have the luxury of dropping off their car at the nearest garage for maintenance or checkups every time something goes wrong. Sometimes you’ll have to take matters into your own hands and repair a small problem, replace that fluid, or simply live with the issue until you can take the car to get fixed.

In situations like this, it’s important to keep a vehicle maintenance log, according to AAP. This will help you organize your thoughts and give you a list of things to address the next time you take your car in for maintenance. The log will ensure that all your car’s problems are attended to, and will save you money on extra repairs in the following months if every issue wasn’t attended to.

Hopefully this article has been helpful in providing information and tips regarding the maintaining of your vehicle. Cars are powerful tools that make life and transportation easier, but they still need to be maintained and cared for if they are to last a long time. Following these simple tricks and tips will extend the life of your vehicle as well as make it safer for all on the road.

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