Driving costs also are affected by how well your vehicle runs. Performing regular maintenance can ensure more efficient vehicle operation and help prevent costly repairs down the road. Below are general checks to make sure your vehicle stays in tip-top shape. Read your owner’s manual for more detailed information on your vehicle’s specific requirements. When performing any do-it-yourself maintenance, always be sure to take proper safety precautions.
- Engine oil: Lubricates and cools the engine while cleaning internal parts. Running your car when it’s low on oil can cause serious engine damage. Check the oil level at least once a month.
- Coolant: Prevents engine freeze-up in winter and boil-over in summer while protecting the cooling system from rust and corrosion. Check the coolant level at each oil change.
- Brake fluid: Critical to proper performance of the vehicle’s braking system. Check at each oil change
- Transmission fluid: Helps transfer engine power to the wheels, lubricates internal parts, maintains seals and acts as a coolant. Check the level at each oil change.
- Power steering fluid: Transfers hydraulic pressure to reduce driver steering effort. Check at each oil change.
- Gasoline: Follow vehicle manufacturer octane rating recommendations to ensure maximum fuel efficiency and prevent damaging engine knock.
Air Filter: Your vehicle’s air filter captures dirt particles and ensures proper airflow to the engine. Inspect the filter at every oil change and replace as needed.
Belts: Most vehicles today use a single serpentine belt to operate under-hood accessories such as the alternator. However, V-belts still are used in some applications. Inspect all belts at every oil change and replace when you spot signs of wear such as glazing or cracking.
Hoses: Hoses circulate vital liquids such as engine coolant, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. Inspect hoses at every oil change and repair or replace any that show signs of wear or leakage.
Battery: The battery supplies power to the starter motor, acts as a voltage stabilizer and makes up for any shortfall when the alternator can’t meet the vehicle’s electrical needs. Inspect battery cable connections at every oil change and clean as needed. When servicing a battery, always wear eye protection and gloves.
Tires: As the only part of your vehicle in contact with the road, tires are integral to safety and ride comfort. For optimum performance, tires must have adequate tread depth and be properly inflated. Inspect tires and check inflation pressures at least once a month.