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Scheduled Maintenance

Car Maintenance Tips and Hacks

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What maintenance entail? Is it merely getting an oil change, a tune-up, and tire rotation? What else is there? There are plenty of things on a car that need some TLC to keep working. A well-maintained car keeps the air and environment clean and protects other drivers on the road. Here are a few maintenance tips and hacks car owners should know.

Inspect

With owner’s manual in one hand and a pen and pad in the other, inspect your car at least twice a month. The owner’s manual will list everything to be checked, including the warning lights on the dash.

Walk around the car, checking the tires for pressure and tread depth, the lights and turn signals that the bulbs work, the belts and hoses that they are tight and working right, the battery terminals that they have no corrosion, and checking the fluids. These are basics, but they keep the car running smoothly.

Check Engine Light

The warning lights on the dash come on to alert the driver that something needs checking before it breaks. In most cases, an OBD-II scanner will show a code that tells the driver what to fix. Some automotive stores like Auto Zone have one, and will tell drivers what is wrong at no charge. Should drivers want one of their own, they are available at Home Depot for $40.

Tires

Rotating the tires and having them balanced and aligned saves on fuel as well as worn tires. Worn tires blow out, possibly causing accidents. When tires are unbalanced, the rest of the car works harder to balance the car. Do this every 5,000 miles, or whatever mileage the owner’s manual suggests.

Timing

A major part of a car’s performance is the timing belt. This can be either a chain or a belt. It has teeth that keep time with the crankshaft and cam. It keeps time with the valves opening and shutting when the cylinders fire. When it breaks, it will shoot the rods through the engine, effectively trashing the car. Have it examined regularly.

Air Filters

Two air filters in a car should be changed every 30,000 miles or so. The air filter beneath the hood keeps contaminants from interfering with the workings of the engine. It takes two minutes to replace.

The air filter for the car’s cabin is located behind the glove compartment on most cars. It keeps contaminants from being inhaled by anyone in the car. It, too, takes a couple minutes to replace. This filter usually lasts about 100,000 miles.

Windscreen Wipers

Have you ever noticed windscreen wipers break in the middle of a storm? This is not good when it’s snowing, either. It’s a simple thing to fix. Press the tabs releasing the old wiper. Line up the new wiper and press the tabs again. Done.

Handy Hacks

It pays to have a supply of necessary items in a box in the trunk of the car. Belts and hoses are useless without clamps. When buying extra belts and hoses, don’t forget clamps. In a pinch, panty hose work as a temporary belt.

Keep extra bottles of fluids in the box. Oil, transmission fluid, brake and steering fluids, as well as engine coolant are important to have on hand.

A tire pressure gauge and, if it’s in the budget, an inflation machine for low tires is handy as well. Fix-A-Flat is good to have in an emergency.

Have a good tire on hand in case of a flat. The doughnut tires only last a few flats. An extra battery, jumper cables, and a battery charger are good items to keep in the box.

In case of dings and scratches, keeping clear nail polish handy will work on those as well as cracks in the windscreen glass.