The average car being built today has around 30,000 parts. That includes every nut, bolt, screw, belt, and wire that together connect up and ensure you arrive at your final destination safely and securely.
However, with that many parts, it’s likely that at any given time, one or more will start to wiggle, loosen up, corrode, or even wear down, making your vehicle less than reliable. One part might not cause a problem. Even two or three. But eventually, you’ll start to see problems in the way your vehicle operates.
Studies show that as much as 80 percent of a mechanic’s time is working on preventable maintenance items that could have been stopped. They are predictive by nature, and with a little bit of preventative maintenance, a bigger situation could have been avoided altogether.
Bigger problems are almost always avoidable when you focus on routine maintenance.
That’s why your vehicle’s owner’s manual will make suggestions on when to have your oil changed and when to make system repairs.
They’re predictable by nature. The more you follow the guidelines, the more preventative maintenance you perform, the less likely you will have emergency repair work in the future.
Get to know your owner’s manual
Every single vehicle manufacturer spends a lot of time getting to know the vehicle they are producing. They pick parts for a reason. They put systems together with a goal in mind.
Who better to make suggestions as to when each part needs repair?
It may seem like a chore, but when you first purchase your vehicle, spend some time flipping through the owner’s manual. Make note of key dates and timeframes for regular maintenance. This guide gives you an A-to-Z approach about the details of your car. It tells you when to change the oil, when to rotate the tires, when to replace the brakes. It also includes suggestions and troubleshooting guidelines, such as what the correct tire pressure should be in different situations.
Don’t worry if you don’t have your owner’s manual right at your fingertips. You have something better: the internet. You can head to your manufacturer’s website anytime, and you’ll find the guidelines for your vehicle right there.
Now it’s time to make a plan
According to the US Department of Transportation, the average male drives around 16,000, and the average female drives 10,000 miles per year.
As your car ages, thousands of miles are put onto your vehicle, in lots of different conditions. Driving on a day when temperatures peak over one-hundred will do different things to your car compared with a day that breaks records for the cold. Ice and snow create different hazards than blazing sun.
Your car is equipped to handle it all. But it will need a little TLC from time to time.
Stick to the service schedule
Chances are you visit your doctor every year for a checkup. You visit your dentist regularly to ensure your teeth are healthy. It’s considered preventative maintenance; to ensure your body does you well.
Regular checkups for your vehicle accomplish the same thing. They ensure everything is running smoothly, and that parts are replaced before they can cause further damage.
When you work with a mechanic you can trust, they do all kinds of things. They check your tires, check fluid levels, ensure belts are tightened and in place. They ensure your lights work well, your windshield wipers are in good shape. They check the battery, hoses, lines, and wires to ensure they all are doing their jobs.
The goal of a regular service check is to ensure everything is working the way it should. To send you off knowing your car is in great shape. And that you’ll be okay in the next few thousand miles, before it’s time for another checkup.
Change the oil
Outside of gasoline, oil is one of the most important fluids for your car. Think of it as your vehicle’s lifeblood.
Changing out the motor oil regularly will ensure your vehicle stays healthy, that parts are well-coated, and protected against heat and wear.
As your car ages, as you drive more and put on more miles, this becomes more important than ever. Changing your motor oil every 3,000 miles is an important part of car maintenance. But when your car reaches 75,000, 100,000, or more, it becomes vital to ensure every part is working at its best.
Check tire pressure
You have new tires. Why worry about them for a few thousand miles?
Yet your tires are the one vital piece that connects your vehicle to the road.
So many things can change tire pressure: heat, cold, hitting a bump, picking up nails and other debris as you drive from place to place.
While more modern cars may have sensitivity controls as a part of your dashboard monitoring system, even if you don’t, it’s wise to check tire pressure from time to time. Even if you make it a routine as you fill up your gasoline, it can help you determine if there’s a problem with your tires.
Don’t delay if you notice tire pressure changing. It can lead to lower efficiency, or even a potentially dangerous situation.
Keep it clean
This may seem like something you can put off on your busiest of days. But washing your car inside and out not only helps it look nice, but also helps you take notice of potential problems.
Do you notice leaking fluid? Is there a rust stain that wasn’t there before? Is there a spot on your tire that looks out of place?
By washing it regularly and waxing it on schedule, you’ll also protect the paint and prevent rust and corrosion from forming. Vacuuming dirt and debris off seats and carpet helps minimize tears and holes over time.
And the best news is, it only takes a little time.
With just a few preventative maintenance steps now, your car will thank you later by living a long life.