Vehicle life and safety. These are the top two reasons you should always keep an eye on maintaining your vehicle up to the highest standards. The following maintenance points are the top 10 overlooked vehicle maintenance issues we found that in the long run will extend your vehicle life, prevent disastrous issues before they happen, and keep your vehicles safety up to par. Nobody wants to end up on the side of the road with a smoking engine!
The first step in figuring out how imperative it is to do proper maintenance on your timing belt is figuring out whether your engine is considered a interference engine or not. In interference engines, timing belts make sure your engine pistons and valves do not collide each time they are fired. If your timing belt was to fail, the bill for fixing this problem could cost more than your car is worth depending on how old the vehicle is. Even if you do not have an interference engine a timing belt failure will result in lose of power or your engine simply not starting. Better safe than sorry right? For specific timing belt maintenance intervals of your vehicle check your owners manual. If you have a vehicle over 50,000 miles and have never replaced the timing belt, it’s a safe bet that maintenance should be done soon.
When you find out your power steering needs maintenance, it’s usually when you’re on the side of the road trying to figure out why it is so difficult to turn your steering wheel. Almost all vehicles today have hydraulic power steering composed of many components and a special pump that keeps the power steering fluid under pressure. Overtime this fluid can pick up dirt and moisture that clogs the power steering components. Adding a power steering additive and flushing the fluid every once in awhile will ensure proper function throughout the life of your vehicle. If you notice a whining noise when you turn your wheel get your vehicle checked for leaky fluids or pump failure.
The extent of how dangerous driving can be on improperly aligned wheels depends on how badly your wheel or wheels are off center. If you notice a hard pull to one side when you take your hands off the steering wheel there is a good chance one or more of your wheels are not aligned correctly. Other indications include a bumpier than average ride and sharp veering when you slightly change the direction of the wheel. You should schedule an annual alignment check for you vehicle which is usually a free service dealers provide. The price can vary on the actual alignment depending on how many tires you need aligned. The good news is a properly aligned vehicle will help minimize tire wear saving you money in the long run. The #1 prevention method of improper alignment: don’t run into any curbs! Try to avoid large potholes safely as well.
It’s commonly known that the only time the AC breaks is on the hottest day of the year. During the start of the summer months dealership service drives are often flooded with vehicles that have broken AC. The AC system is kept running by oil and lubrication throughout it’s working parts. In the winter months when the AC is not touched, these oils and lube can drain away. It is recommended to run your AC every once in awhile for at least 15 minutes. Even during the winter when you are only heating the cabin, put the AC on with heat a couple times a month to keep those parts oiled and lubed up and ready for the summer.
Brake pad and rotors are the first things that come to mind when you think of brake system maintenance, but there are other important factors in your brake fluid as well. Brake fluid absorbs moisture out of the air, keeping water from getting into the system and corroding components. The hydraulic system is sealed, but the reservoir is not which means it is imperative to get your brake system flushed to keep those fluids in top shape. If you notice your vehicle is taking a longer time to slow down, check for worn pads, calipers, and rotors as well. After all brakes can be the #1 make or brake point in preventing an accident (pun intended).
Air bags are not a maintenance issue, but important nonetheless. If you have purchased a used vehicle it is extremely important that you have it checked for air bags. Just because you see no sign of damage and the accident report is clear does not mean the air bags could not have deployed during a low speed collision. The NHTSA found that 1 in 5 fatal accidents involve a vehicle with no air bags. Also remember to get them replaced if you are in an accident in your new car as well.
Leaving your vehicles transmission fluid untouched for the life of your vehicle is also another sure way to leave yourself on the side of the road wondering what happened. Check your owners manual for your vehicles routine transmission service intervals. These services usually require the replacement of the fluid and filter with some routine cleaning of other components. If you notice your vehicle starting to shift roughly or more abrupt, get your transmission checked immediately. If the entire system was to fail, replacing it is a hefty cost. A leaky automatic transmission will usually leave a reddish fluid behind, another sign to get your trans checked.
Every second you drive your vehicle, carbon, dirt, and sludge is passing through your engine. Over time these can build up and cause your engine to suffer from lack of fuel. Just like if the brain receives to little oxygen, your car will lose power and suffer from poor fuel economy. Adding a fuel additive twice a year will prevent all the gunk from building up and keep your engine running smoothly.
What else will prevent carbon, dirt, and sludge from building up in your engine? Air and fuel filters. Usually inexpensive and easily replaced, filters are an easy fix to a huge problem. A clean fuel filter will prevent premature fuel-pump failure and clogged fuel injectors. A clear air filter will improve your engines ability to breathe providing better fuel economy and performance.
A dead battery won’t ruin your vehicle, but it will prevent you from getting to work on time if at all. Many drivers check their batteries in the fall, but the spring time is just as important. Any seasonal weather changes can cause a weak battery to fail. Have your dealership or mechanic check the battery each time your get an oil change, they will recommend whether you should get a new one for the future.
All of these concerns can be checked and inspected each time you get an oil change. If you have a few issues, fixing them shouldn’t take more than a few hours. In the long run proper maintenance and cleaning of these components can add thousands of miles to your vehicle and keep you and your family safe on the road.