There is no doubt that a properly running vehicle is important to most people”s lives. For many of us, it would simply be impossible to get to work, school or shopping without a good car, truck or SUV. The importance of a properly running vehicle is certainly reflected in their prices, with even reasonably good used cars often costing thousands of dollars. As prices for new and even used cars, trucks and SUVs continues to rise, it has never been more important to care for that investment properly. The right maintenance schedule can keep that car purring along for many years, lowering the overall cost of ownership and relieving you of that dreaded car payment.
The good news is that many vehicles made today are more than capable of going well over 100,000 miles with the proper maintenance schedule. While in the past it was standard for many cars to break down long before the odometer had rolled over to 100,000, often requiring major overhauls, like a new engine or transmission. These days, however, many cars reach and exceed the 100,000 mile mark without major problems, and that is good news indeed.
Of course this also means that maintenance has become more and more important. Following the recommended maintenance schedule is an important consideration. Buyers of new cars will typically receive a recommended maintenance schedule which details what work should be done at what intervals. These maintenance schedules will typically include both routine maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations, and major overhauls, such as changing the serpentine belt or flushing the transmission system.
While these maintenance items will typically be done at the shop, there are things car, truck and SUV owners can do to extend the lives of their own vehicles. Most of these simple maintenance tips take very little time, but they can go a long way toward detecting problems and heading off major repair bills.
For instance, the simplest and most effective thing vehicle owners can do is to check their own oil levels on a weekly basis, or having the car inspected by a professional or mechanic will help too. Checking the oil on the same day each week will provide a ready reminder and ensure that you do not forget this important part of vehicle maintenance. A properly running engine will consume little to no oil, while an engine experiencing problems can go through an alarming amount of this precious fluid. If you notice an uptick in oil consumption, it is time to have the engine checked out. Letting things go could make them much worse and ultimately result in a blown engine.
The oil in the vehicle should be changed in accordance with the recommendations of the car manufacturer, typically every 3,000 or 5,000 miles. Oil will build up dirt and impurities as the time goes by, and changing the oil and filter will remove these impurities and help to prevent engine damage.
Part of each routine oil change should be a check of all fluid levels, including the level of transmission fluid, brake fluid and coolant. Keeping an eye on these fluid levels will help to head off problems by spotting them early. The tire pressure should be checked when the oil is changed as well, since under-inflated and over-inflated tires can reduce gas mileage and pose a safety hazard.
The belts should be checked at least a couple of times a year as well. The fan belts, serpentine belt and radiator hoses are among the belts that should be checked on a regular basis.
Other fluids in the vehicle will also need to be changed on a regular basis. For instance, many manufacturers recommend changing coolant once a year. When changing antifreeze, it is important to completely flush the system using a professional procedure. Flushing the cooling system on a regular basis will help to keep the radiator running at peak efficiency.