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Owning a vehicle involves more than the weekly fill-up at the gas station. Preventative maintenance not only extends the life of a car, but improves the vehicle’s overall safety and allows for minor repairs to be caught before they can turn into major repairs. Allowing one hour a week to inspect and maintain your vehicle can provide you with enough time to complete the following tasks:
They need to be checked before it rains. Visually inspect the exterior of the blades. Is all of the rubber on the blade secure and intact? If not, replace immediately. Next, pour some water on the windshield or push button on wiper blades to distribute wiper fluid on windshield. Check the performance of the wiper blades clearing the fluid. Did they clear the windshield efficiently and with even distribution? Now factor in driving conditions – was this simulation good enough or is it time for new wiper blades? Consult your owner’s manual for specific sizes, as many cars will require two different wiper blade sizes.
It should be examined for uneven wear or missing rubber. Often overlooked, the foot pedals can collect dirt and other debris which can interfere with the shoe-to-pedal contact surface. Wipe pedals clean and vacuum floor mats to help eliminate dirt. Additionally, replace any worn rubber surfaces on pedals, as the metal underneath can be slippery in wet or icy driving conditions. Replacement rubber can be purchased at vehicle-specific dealer locations.
There is the oil filter that needs to be changed every three months or 3,000 miles, but what about the air filter? Air filters need to be cleaned regularly and changed according to owner’s manuals. Drivers who commute along dirt roads, construction areas or other dirty/dusty areas should vacuum their air filters weekly and change them more frequently than manuals suggest. Having a clean air filter is just as important as maintaining a proper oil change/filter replacement.
After inspecting the air filter, check the oil. Note levels, color and consistency. Also inspect the engine block for any sign of oil leakage as well as underneath the vehicle. If vehicle is leaking oil, be sure to immediately schedule an appointment with a qualified mechanic to prevent further engine damage.
Require both internal and external attention. On the outside, check all tires for signs of uneven tread wear, screws or nails. If a screw or nail is found do not attempt to remove it. Bring the vehicle as soon as possible to a service station for a flat repair/tire plug. Uneven tread wear needs to be addressed immediately to fix the vehicle’s alignment or other cause for the uneven tread wear. Never allow tires to wear until the sliver part of the tire shows. This is an accident waiting to happen.
Rotate tires every 12,000 miles and inspect the internal tire pressure weekly. If unsure about proper inflation levels, they can be located on the printed information stamped on the outside of the tire. Moreover, remember to rotate tires if needed. For northern divers, switch out snow tires with all-weather tires seasonally.
This includes inspecting paint, mirrors and lighting. Weekly, inspect paint for any signs of peeling, chipping or bubbling. Lost or damaged paint needs to be repaired quickly to inhibit rust development. Mirrors need to be checked for paint loss, as well as any internal/external adjustments for driving visibility. Finally, with a partner, inspect all directional, head, tail and brake lighting. Replace any non-functional bulbs.
By following these tips, you are not only ensuring the safety of yourself and other passengers, but also ensuring your vehicle can command a higher resale value. Listen to your car daily to know its “normal sounds” and inspect it weekly. When repaired, be sure to keep documentation of all maintenance performed including receipts and warranties. This will help you and your vehicle’s next owner have a record of its history and average yearly maintenance costs.