Maintaining Your Vehicle To Increase Reliability

If you are a new driver, you will soon discover that caring for your vehicle is very important so it works when you need it to. There are several maintenance steps, like scheduling oil changes, that you should take regularly to keep your vehicle in the best of shape. Here is a list of items you should regularly monitor in an attempt to keep your vehicle from experiencing downtime or the need for extensive repairs.

Check The Fluids

Your vehicle runs with the aid of several fluids. It is important to check the level of the oil, transmission fluid, power steering, brake line fluid, and windshield washer fluid at least once a month. This way, you will notice if one is becoming low in the reservoir, necessitating a fill-up or an evaluation to find a leak. Failing to monitor fluid levels can lead to brakes that don't stop when needed, a vehicle that jerks and bucks, or even a seized engine.

When one of the fluids appears dirty, bring the vehicle to a mechanic and have the fluid replaced completely. Oil will become black and clumpy and transmission fluid will go from a clear pink to a deep red when dirty. 

Maintain Tires Properly

Your tires should be regularly inspected for wear and tear. If you have smooth portions in the treads, they will need to be retreaded or replaced with new tires. Make sure to have the tires rotated according to the tire manufacturer's recommendations. This will be listed in your vehicle manual or your mechanic will be able to give you a schedule for rotations. If you drive your vehicle without the correct air pressure, additional problems may arise. Too much pressure can lead to a blow out on the roadway. Not enough can lead to a vehicle that pulls to one side. The tires would wear quickly if air is not added.

Your tire air pressure recommendation should be listed on the tires themselves or on a small tag with specifications of different parts of your vehicle listed upon it. This is usually located on the floorboard of the driver's side of your vehicle or under the hood.

Get Regular Tune Ups

Have your mechanic give your vehicle a tune-up according to the schedule your vehicle's manufacturer recommends. A good rule of thumb is getting a tune-up every two years or 30,000 miles. At this session, your mechanic will change the fuel filter, replace the spark plugs and wires, and give your vehicle a new distributor cap if needed. The ignition timing is checked, any valves and the cover gasket are replaced if the vehicle leaks oil, and the belts are checked and replaced if they are loose or frayed. At this time, the fluids and tires will be checked as well.