Basic car care is the key to a long-lasting vehicle, improving its safety and dependability, says the Car Care Council. Following a routine maintenance program also makes financial sense since neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value.
The Car Care Council recommends 10 basic maintenance procedures to keep your car operating at its best for the long haul:
- Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
- Check the hoses and belts to make sure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear.
- Check the battery and replace, if necessary. Make sure the connection is clean, tight and corrosion-free.
- Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change.
- Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
- Check engine performance to deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
- Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting.
- Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components.
- Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
- Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.
For more information on vehicle maintenance, service interval schedules, questions to ask a technician and tips to drive smart and save money, the Car Care Council’s 80-page Car Care Guide can be ordered free-of-charge at www.carcare.org.
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Car Care Council