We all know the suggested timetable for oil changes and tire rotations, but are you as sure about the other car important recommendations? I confess I didn’t always know what to do when I was on my car. Small issues such as air filters and windshield wipers were not high on my checklist for car maintenance. Such “small things” will affect your car’s efficiency enormously. Not only that, they are affecting the costs of long-term maintenance.
What to Check On Your Car & When
There are usually two schools of thought on how to decide when your car is to be serviced. The first think tank is, let the mechanic tell you. With this the logic is pretty straightforward. After all, if you go for service all the time to the same place then it shouldn’t be a concern. They keep a log and will inform you of any resources you may need, right?
This school of thought is home to lots of busy people. I was in this category before I was paid for a series of oil adjustments for new air filters that had never been installed – 2 years later the factory-installed model was still in the car.
I switched to the second school of thought, after that encounter. Let me demonstrate to the mechanic. I keep a strong view of what my car needs and tell the mechanic what facilities I need when I go in. For most products I follow the manufacturer guidelines. I often use my experience of how to drive my car (long road trips vs. stop-and-go local traffic) to notify my schedule of operation.
Keeping track of the facilities means I’m not only keeping my car in the best shape but I’m also saving time and money.
1. Right Time to Change Your Air Filter
There’s an offer to upgrade my air filter at the same time, almost every time I’ve had an oil shift. This is definitely on the item list because you are expected to meet the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular make and model.
Ford suggests that the filter be replaced every 15,000 – 30,000 miles depending on the model and car use. In comparison, every time you change your oil, Mazda recommends a shift but never go beyond the limit of every 36 months or 37,500 miles.
The easiest way to know when to adjust the air filter is by a visual check when you detect a drop in your gas mileage, or a sluggish start when turning the car on.
A change in air filter is a practical remedy that can affect your gas costs and it is more than worth changing on a regular basis.
2. No Jump Starts Needed With Battery’s Changed on Schedule
Going out and not getting your battery crank up in the morning isn’t the ideal way to start the day. In general terms, car battery life is three to six years.
The gigantic difference is dependent on your local environment, vehicle type and driving habits. One way to make sure your battery stays healthy is by doing an occasional touch test. Only look at the terminals to make sure they don’t leak and corrosion-clean them. For just a few bucks, you can buy a brush and clean the terminals yourself, or ask your mechanic when your car is in the garage next.
3. Top Off the Fluids
There are so many fluids in a vehicle and they are all worth learning about. Here are four of those important to keep track of.
Oil – Make sure you test your oil rates once a month, even if you don’t get a change of oil. Learn how to take the stick out and test the level, particularly during severe weather, or when you see leakage.
Antifreeze/Coolant – Overtime the coolant changes its pH which can make the car more vulnerable to corrosion. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on when to flush the engine but start tracking it at 100,000 miles.
Brake Fluid – When having your brakes changed, flushing the fluid should be part of the services offered.
Windshield Washer Fluid – In cold or stormy climates, that can be crucial. And usually the worst time to discover this is when you find out the reservoir is empty. Drivers in cold climates should use an anti-freeze wiper fluid to keep sleet from building up on the windshield. And standard water works pretty well in a pinch too.
4. When to Change Your Tires
For a list of what to change in your car, Tires is a no brainer. We all know the tires should be updated to their mileage level accordingly. You have got to repair your tires after 60,000 miles, right? We could actually get rid of our tires too early according to Michelin. A conservative driver can have up to an additional 10,000 miles on his tires unless the tires are dangerous, bulging or completely worn out.
5. Can’t see in the rain or sand storm? Change Your Windshield Wiper Blades
Generally speaking, the windshield wiper blades should be replaced every six months to a year, regardless of car make or model. In fact, if you are experiencing any of the following, they may need to be changed more frequently: windshield streaks or film, chattering sounds, season change or visible wear.
Windshield wiper blades can make a big difference in road visibility, so be sure to err on the side and include them in your car check-ups before any major journeys.
What school of thought do you believe?
We’ve made the case for what you need to check and when. Have we moved you into the second school of thought yet? You can also check our Car Accessories page to get good offers on car care products for your car to keep it clean and safe. Now you have no reason not to keep track of things for yourself!