One of the more prominent contributions ever made to the world is the automobile. Some people see them as expensive, multifaceted appliances that get them from one place to another. Other people see their vehicle as an extension of themselves. No matter what kind of relationship you have with your vehicle, you need to make sure that it’s running in tip-top shape at all times.
There are many things you need to do to ensure it stays that way. A checklist of items that must be done beyond a simple oil change and brake check.
The great thing about this checklist of stuff is that you don’t have to be an expert. You don’t have to know what a flat six, straight six or V6 is. While there are some things you should let the professionals handle, there are others that you can do yourself. No matter what you decide, you just need to be sure the task gets done on a yearly basis.
Address Your Basics
Make sure to read your vehicle’s owner’s manual, using it as a guide to understand your vehicle better. Most of these books, provide the basics and don’t need reiterating over and over. Bear in mind that if you don’t have a manual in your vehicle, you can find a copy of it on the Internet.
Have Your Oil Analyzed
While you don’t have to do this, you can save a plethora of money in the long run. Analyzing your oil tells you if something is wrong with the engine. You send a sample of the oil to a lab, which will let you know in a comprehensive report how many miles you can go before you need to change your oil based on two things – environment and your actual driving habits.The report will also tell you if metal shavings are in the oil, which could mean some problems to the vehicle.
Flush The Brake Fluid
If you’re noticing some slushiness when pushing the brake pedal, it could be that your brake fluid needs changing and needs to be refilled. Why is that? Brake fluid takes in atmospheric water, which is a problem as brake fluid boils at a higher temperature than water. The difference causes air to get into the lines. When pushing on the pedal, you press on the air in the line.The older your vehicle’s brake fluid is, the worse your problem will be. You should change it every year, but really, this can be pushed to every couple of years.
When it comes to vehicle maintenance, people are leery of anything dealing with their brakes. However, flushing out the brake fluid is fairly easy to do. You can either purchase a kit that helps you or have a partner on standby to press the brake pedal as the fluid cycles in and out.
Do A Brake Inspection
When flushing out the fluid, check out the rest of the braking system. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there any fluid leaking?
- Does the brake rotor have a crack in it?
- When running your fingers along the surface, do you notice any ridges?
How thick are the brake pads? Are they worn evenly? Are they shaped like a wedge? If the pads are less than an eighth of an inch, you should have them changed. If not, you’ll notice a squeal.
Check The Tires
Be sure to check out the condition of the tires’ rubber. If your vehicle’s tires are less than two years old, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue. If your vehicle’s tires are more than three years old, look for possible cracking in the tires and sidewalls.Use the “penny test” to determine what the tire tread depth is. Put the penny in between the tread blocks. If you see Abe’s ear, your tire tread is still good. If the penny doesn’t reach his hair, you may want to start looking at some companies that sell tires. You’ll be good for a little while, but you should consider getting new tires.
If while inspecting the tires, see if the tread is uneven. If so, then you need to deal with the alignment on your vehicle.
Pay close mind to your steering wheel. Do you notice if the car is pulling one direction or another? Or, is it going in a straight line? If it’s not going in a straight line, you need to let a mechanic fix the alignment. You can also find out if the vehicle’s alignment is messed up by checking out the depth of the tire tread. Is one side of the tread deeper than the other? If so, then have a mechanic take a look at it.
Look Over The Hoses and Belts
Your owner’s manual will cover this, but you should do it more often than what your manual calls for. You certainly don’t want to break down on the side of a highway, with traffic flying by you. And, if the vehicle breaks down, it could cause major damage to the engine. Thus, you pay thousands of dollars to either repair the vehicle or buy another vehicle.Get under the hood of your car and look for any bulges or fraying of the belts and hoses. You may need to open the covers, as many auto manufacturers tend to hide them today. If you can’t do this yourself, have a mechanic look them over for you. You can even do it while a mechanic is changing your oil.
Steam Cleaning The Inside Of Your Vehicle
Your vehicle is a cesspool of germs from seat sweat, food particles, drink spills and array of other nasty habits you may have. Worst off, if you bought the vehicle used, you never know how the other person cared for the interior. Who knows what will be blowing in your face when you turn on the AC/heater.
Be sure to steam clean your vehicle at least once a year to remove the germs and bodily fluids. Your seats and health will thank you for creating a cleaner environment.