Car Repairs

A Stitch in Time: Little Car Maintenance Tasks That Save You Big Headaches

CleverDude_CarWashTipPicPreventive maintenance may be inexpensive and easy to perform, but it’s a hassle nevertheless, and it does cost something. Unfortunately, many car owners simply do not want to go to the trouble. They choose to never get under the hood unless they actually sense a problem. The reluctance to be proactive isn’t surprising; people are the same with their health.

It all comes from not knowing enough about the inner workings of the system. It’s hard for most people to see how preventive maintenance actually does succeed in heading off major problems. Learning well about how exactly cars work (in general), and how your car works (in particular), is the best thing that you can do for your for your car and your wallet.

You should start with the manual

Car manuals are packed with so much usable information, you’ll easily cut wasteful spending overnight by half. You’ll never fall for the old trick that mechanics apply on unsuspecting customers, where they tell them that they need an oil change once every 3,000 miles (garages even put stickers on cars recommending this). Your manual will tell you when, and you should listen — usually, it’s between 7,500 miles and 10,000 miles on cars bought in the last decade.

Reading the manual will also give you important tips on not abusing your car as well, doing such things as filling up with fuel with the wrong octane rating (it’ll actually void your warranty). Once you learn from the manual what you need to do, make the following a part of your preventive maintenance routine.

Rotate your tires

Changing your tires around is a good idea because it makes sure that they wear evenly. If you indefinitely keep your tires where they are, you’ll find that your front tires wear out before the rear ones do (it’s the front tires that bear the load of the engine’s weight). Then, you’ll be stuck with the dilemma of whether to change out just the front tires while leaving the older rear tires on.

While you can rotate your tires yourself, it’s also important to get them balanced and aligned at least once a year. You might as well find a professional to do it all for you. 

Look at the spark plugs

If your car is long out of warranty and you haven’t been paying much attention, chances are that your engine is dirty. One way that this can hurt your car is through a build up of gunk around each spark plug. Dirt on your spark plugs can affect your engine’s efficiency and cost you more fuel. Cleaning those spark plugs on the outside is a great idea, as is replacing them once every five years or so. You can usually tell when your spark plugs need changing — your engine will feel rough when it idles, you’ll have starting trouble, and your car will feel sluggish.

Pay attention to those fluids

While your car has many kinds of fluids that are important to its ability to function correctly, it’s the engine and transmission oils that are vital. You need to commit to memory the change intervals that the manual recommends, and make sure that you keep up. You should visit a trustworthy auto repair shop for it. Look up quotes on the quote search engine You wouldn’t want the auto repair shop to try to pile on other unnecessary jobs.

Check the timing and serpentine belts

You usually need to change these belts out once every 50,000 miles. It’s important that you do what’s recommended, because if you try to run on a worn belt, it could snap mid-run and damage all kinds of other components.

Once you get with a preventive maintenance program and learn how it helps you save money, you’ll actually find it hard to stop. You’ll know you’re being smart where most.

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Joe Boyle is a do-it-yourself kind of guy, and can turn his hand to almost anything. From decorating and light building/maintenance work to basic car repairs. He writes how-to articles which appear around the web.

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