One of the advantages of modern vehicles is that they require a lot less service to maintain and keep them running well. It used to be a seasonal exercise to change breaker points, condensers, and spark plugs. Today however, a spark plug can last up to 100,000 miles between changes. Points and condensers have been eliminated due to electronic ignitions. Suspensions, chassis, and even certain transmissions are lubed for life. This means that a newer car or truck can go for approximately 200,000 miles with only regular and minor upkeep.
There are however a few basic repair and maintenance tips that will help you keep your car running smoothly. For example, check your engine oil on a monthly basis and even more often if you see an oil leak. Always check your oil when parked on level ground for an accurate reading and never overfill it. If you discover that you have an oil leak make sure that you fix it sooner than later.
Before an extended road trip, and at least once a month, use a tire gauge to check your tire’s inflation pressure. Do not forget to do this also with the spare tire. Check your tire pressure when the tires are cold and use the inflation pressure number that the vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. You will find this number on the front doorjamb, in the owner’s manual, or in the glove box compartment. Visually check for any uneven or abnormal wear, side wall bulges, or cuts.
A simple vehicle maintenance trick is to keep your car clean by washing it every week if possible. Wash the body of the car but do not forget about the undercarriage and fender wells. Try to remove all road salt and dirt in these areas. Your car should also be waxed when the water beads become bigger than a quarter. Make sure that you choose a quality wax for your vehicle. Besides washing the exterior it is also beneficial to vacuum and clean the interior on a regular basis.
Most vehicles should have their oil and oil filter changed every 6 months or 7500 miles, whichever comes first. If you do a lot of driving, have frequent short trips, drive-in dusty conditions, or tow a trailer then you may want to shorten the time to every 3 months or 3000 miles. Special engines such as turbocharged or diesel often require more frequent oil changes.
When you do an oil change it is also advisable to do a few other simple automobile maintenance checks or repairs. For example, look at your air filter by holding it up to a light. If you cannot see the light then it is time to change the air filter. Take time to inspect your exhaust system. You can do this whenever your car is up on ramps. It is preferable to change an entire exhaust system if required rather than trying to repair a small section at different times.
Other important vehicle maintenance procedures that you can do during each oil change include checking all fluids, cleaning the radiator, inspecting the brakes, checking the battery. Every 2 to 4 years, drain and flush the car’s cooling system, change the fluid in an automatic transmission, change the timing belt, and replace the drive belts and hoses.