Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Proper Car Maintenance

Keeping up with life’s constant demands can seem nearly impossible sometimes. In this age of multitasking, seemingly less pressing responsibilities can fall by the wayside. Don’t let keeping up your vehicle be one of these neglected items on your never-ending list of things to do. Fill out your calendar ahead of time to ensure you work these important appointments into your schedule and you won’t be left on the side of the road, getting nothing done. Sure, keeping the oil changed and the gas tank full are easy enough to keep track of, but car maintenance consists of a great deal more than that. While a reliable mechanic ought to be able to warn you when you have wear on your brakes and tires, and other systems, it’s always good to track these things for yourself as well. The guidelines that follow are general rules of thumb for most vehicles. Check the owner’s manual for your car to be sure that these time and mileage intervals are right for your car.

1.)    If you drive a fuel-injected vehicle, your car’s fuel filter needs to be changed every two years or 24,000 miles. This component keeps debris from obstructing the fuel injectors, and keeps your car running smoothly.

2.)    When you have your oil changed, your power steering fluid should be changed as well. This will ensure that you get the optimal steering response while you drive. You can check the power steering fluid easily, but be sure you are using the right formula of fluid for your car, and never add more than the dipstick indicates. Also, if you notice a significant loss of fluid, talk to your mechanic, as this is indicative of a leack or a larger problem.

3.)    You should replace your car’s battery every 4-5 years to avoid the inconvenient surprise of a dead battery before work. Keeping your battery terminals clean (scrub them with a toothbrush dipped in baking soda if they’re corroded) will help your battery perform reliably, but the life of a battery will eventually run out.

4.)    Your air filter needs to be changed annually or every 12,00 miles to keep your engine and your airflow sensor clear of debris. If your car has a complicated airflow system, you may be better off asking your mechanic to do this.

5.)    You should have your automatic transmission fluid and filter changed every two years, and you don’t want to neglect this important and expensive component to your car. Like your power steering fluid, the transmission fluid should be checked every so often and topped off as needed with the correct type of fluid for your car. This habit will keep you abreast of any issues like leaks or discoloration that may be early indicators of larger problems.

6.)    Spark Plugs should be replaced every 30,000 to 100,000 miles to guarantee that you engine will fire reliably each time you turn the key. If you are having issues with mileage or emissions, you might address the spark plugs or the wires.

Belt failure is definitely something you do not want, as it can lead to other engine components coming loose and slamming into other components. Change your engine belts every three years or 36,000 miles, and change you timing belt every 60,000 to 90,000 miles.


Lawrence Reaves writes about Used Auto Parts and Used Ford Engines for Woodfins.com