Vehicle Maintenance 101
Getting into the habit of routinely getting your car serviced is a good habit to get into and it’s easier than you may think. Cars can be a lot like people. If they don’t get a little TLC, from time to time, the relationship can turn ugly. Then, just when you need it the most, it may leave you stranded. Just the same as we go to our doctor for our routine checkups, our cars need to head to our favorite auto technician for theirs.
One of the first things you should do is to become acquainted with the owner’s manual. This little novel can usually be found in your vehicle’s glove box and it can provide you with a wealth of information about your trusty steed. As you work your way through the sections, you will notice there are specific things that are important for every driver to know. For example, the tire pressure, which can fluctuate with the temperature of the environment.
Vehicle manufacturers specify PSI – literally “pounds per square inch” of pressure – assuming tires are cold. Tires are considered cold when the vehicle has been parked for three hours or more, or if the vehicle has been driven less than a mile at moderate speed. If tire pressure is adjusted when the tires are considered to be ‘hot’, then you should have them set 4 PSI higher than the recommended cold setting. This information can also be found on a sticker placed on the door jam of the drivers door of most vehicles.
Did you know that around every 7,500 miles you should generally have your tires rotated? Or at least as often as the manufacturer recommends for them to be done? For most cars, a good rule of thumb for a tire rotation schedule is every other oil change. Rotating your tires on a regular basis will help all 4 tires wear at an even rate rather than having the tires that are doing most of the work wear out much quicker than the others.
Another issue that needs to be dealt with on a regular basis is an engine oil change. Engine oil is the life’s blood of your car; without it, your engine will fail. Keeping your engine oil and filters serviced regularly and maintaining the tune-up service will help your car deliver many miles of trouble free driving. Oil change intervals can vary depending on the type of vehicle, driving conditions, and climate. Refer to that owners manual that we mentioned earlier to be sure. Even if your car isn’t due for an oil change you should try to check the oil level at least monthly to make sure that the oil level is where it should be. That owners manual can help you with that, too.
Today’s cars are much smarter than they used to be and many vehicles on the road today will provide dashboard reminders for many of the things you need to be aware of, such as when you are due for an oil change, when your battery or charging system is in need of service, or ‘Heaven Forbid’, if that dreaded CHECK ENGINE light comes on. Even if your vehicle doesn’t have all these built in reminders you can always fall back on the old stand by ‘Windshield Sticker’ in the top left corner of the windshield to remind you that it’s time to take your baby in for some fresh oil and a check up.
One of the most important things that you can for your vehicle, and your peace of mind, is to find a repair facility that you can trust. Someone that understands what you want and need from your vehicle and will partner with you to make it happen. A good relationship with an auto shop service center can go a long way toward getting all that you want from your car and relieve some of the stress and hassle that comes with the unexpected breakdown.
So, the next time you feel like curling up with a good book, grab that owners manual and give it a good read. You may be surprised at just how much useful info is in there and you may even dazzle the crowd around the office water cooler with your new found knowledge.