According to a new report, today’s average car price is just over $47,000 and continues to rise.
When you invest in a car today, keeping it running well is top priority. It costs enough for monthly payments and insurance fees, who needs the added expense of repair bills?
The adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to keeping your vehicle running smoothly. The engine is at the heart of your car’s operating system. While you might not think much about your engine while moving down the road, you will if it starts making noises, or when the drive isn’t as comfortable as it once was.
Engines need maintenance too. If you keep your engine in good operating condition, it will provide you with years of service. Ignore it, and you’ll pay for it many times over.
What can you do?
Start with an oil change
Changing the oil is drilled into every driver from the moment they get their license. There’s a good reason for that. It’s the lifeblood of your car.
When you change the oil regularly, you’re providing fresh, high-quality fluid into various engine parts, protecting them from potential danger. Oil keeps parts lubricated so they won’t overheat.
Most repair shops and oil changing stations will recommend changing oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Check with your car’s manufacturer for specific guidelines. Err on the side frequency. It’s better to ensure your vehicle is operating with high-quality fluids rather than allowing contaminants to reside inside. Age of the motor oil matters just as much as mileage if you work from home and rarely drive.
Change out the oil filter when you add new fluid. The oil filter collects dirt and debris and prevents it from circulating back into the engine. This ensures motor oil runs freely through the system, and won’t clog up because of contaminants.
Keep the cooling system in good condition
The cooling system includes the radiator, thermostat, water pump, and coolant. The easiest way to prevent your car from overheating is to ensure coolant is flowing through the system, protecting the major components.
Coolant circulates when the thermostat determines enough heat is in the system to start cooling it down. The water pump pushes coolant from the radiator to the engine block, then back down to the radiator to be cooled once again.
You can check the coolant levels by looking at the coolant tank underneath the hood. It’s a clear tank with green or orange liquid. You can also bring it in for an inspection, and we’ll ensure your coolant levels are topped off.
Check the air filter
Just like a dirty air filter won’t allow proper flow of motor oil throughout the engine compartment, an air filter won’t operate correctly if it’s clogged with dirt and debris. Air filters keep things like bugs, dirt, and leaves from circulating through the air supply as you drive from making it into the engine. Depending on how you drive, the air filter can last a long time, but if it’s allowed to get too dirty, it will impact your engine in several ways. It stops airflow and lessens oxygen needed for the engine to function correctly. It decreases efficiency, which can also reduce your gas mileage. If it’s allowed to get too dirty, it can block the system and cause irreparable damage to your engine. If you’re getting your oil changed regularly anyway, have the technicians look at the air filter to ensure it’s clean.
Check for leaks
One of the benefits of parking in a garage, driveway, or parking spot is you can pay attention to potential problems. As you pull away, look to see if there are any fluids on the ground. The two main fluids you want to ensure aren’t leaking from your vehicle are motor oil and coolant.
The engine is constantly under pressure, with extreme heat forming as you drive. Over time, parts wear out, rubber hoses can crack and break, and they can cause fluid to leak and pool when your car sits for a while.
You can also pop the hood from time to time and see if anything is pooling near the engine compartment. Take a whiff – some fluids have distinct smells. If you do notice fluid, note its color. Motor oil will be dark brown or black. Engine coolant will be green or orange. Automatic transmission fluid will be red or brown. Power steering fluid will be reddish-brown, or darker as it ages. Brake fluid is clear when new, but will turn darker brown over time.
Follow up on all dashboard lights
Dashboard lights illuminate for a reason. While it’s easy to ignore them, they light up to give you ample time to take action.
The check engine light turns on frequently, and warns of a variety of problems, including alternator, battery, or even temperature problems. The best way to find where the issue originates is to bring it in for a diagnostic test.
Replace the fuel filter
The fuel filter is similar in function to the oil filter. They both filter out particles in the fluids they use. Where an oil filter filters particles out of engine oil, the fuel filter takes particles out of the fuel. Fuel filters keep the fuel source cleaner, giving your system better energy to operate with. This can impact your fuel efficiency too.
Change spark plugs
Spark plugs and wires run from the distributor to the cylinders, sending an electrical current to the spark plugs to ignite the fuel. They are used every time you turn your vehicle on. When they get too old, they cause your engine to run rough. Most manufacturers suggest to change them every 30,000 miles or so, but a technician can run diagnostic checks to determine if it benefits you to change them now.
What do you do to your car to keep it running smoothly?
Regular maintenance helps protect your vehicle as well as keep your repair bills to a minimum. Is today the day you give your car an inspection to ensure everything is working well?