National Car Care Month in April is the time of year to give your car some extra attention. Basic maintenance can go a long way toward improving the safety and dependability of your vehicle, plus it helps avoid costly repairs down the road.
“Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Chances are if you own a car, it needs some work. National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle’s maintenance needs.”
Something as basic as checking the oil can go a long way toward improving the safety and reliability of your vehicle, plus it helps avoid costly repairs down the road. AskPatty joins the Car Care Council to recommend these 10 basic maintenance procedures to keep your car operating at its best:
• Check The Oil, Filters, And Fluids
Oil should be checked at every fill-up, and for maximum engine life, it should be changed per the owner's manual recommended intervals or every three months or 3,000 miles. Brake, transmission, power steering, coolant, and windshield washer fluids should also be checked regularly. Your car's filters, including those for the transmission, fuel system, and interior ventilation, need regular inspection and replacement.
• Inspect Hoses At Each Oil Change
Have them replaced when leaking, brittle, cracked, rusted, swollen, or restricted. Check V-belts and serpentine belts for looseness and condition, and have them replaced when cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear. Typically replace the timing belt between 60,000 and 90,000 miles or at the interval specified in the owner's manual to avoid a breakdown or serious engine damage.
• Check The Brake System
Check the brake system every year and have the brake linings, rotors, and drums inspected at each oil change.
• Check The Battery Connections
The battery connections should be clean, tight, and corrosion-free. The battery should be securely mounted. If it is three years old or more, the battery should be tested and replaced if necessary.
• Inspect The Exhaust System
Check the exhaust system for leaks, damage, and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
• Schedule A Tune-Up
A tune-up can help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
• Check The Car's Heating, Ventilating, And Air Conditioning
Check the car's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting.
• Inspect The Steering And Suspension System
Inspect the steering and suspension system annually, including shock absorbers and struts, and chassis parts, such as ball joints, tie rod ends, and other related components.
• Check The Pressure Of All Tires
Check the pressure of all tires, including the spare, at least once a month.
Check the tread for uneven or irregular wear and cuts and bruises along the sidewalls. Have your car's alignment checked at least annually to reduce tire wear and improve fuel economy and handling.
• Replace Windshield Wiper Blades
Check windshield wiper blades every six months and replace them when cracked, cut, torn, streaking, or chattering for optimum wiping performance and safety.
Results of community car care events held throughout the country last year show that most consumers are neglecting their cars, with seven out of 10 vehicles failing at least one component of the vehicle inspection process.
“These results show that the majority of vehicle owners could save money by being more proactive when it comes to their vehicle," White said. “Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, make sure your car is ready for the spring and summer travel season."
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council's Car Care Guide or for more information, visit www.carcare.org.