Guide to Affordable and Sustainable Car Maintenance
Car maintenance is a must for every new or seasoned car owner. When there is regular car maintenance, one does not need to replace their vehicle or its parts every few years. This saves money, time, and effort. With a well-maintained car, anyone can go places without thinking about repair and sudden car problems.
What are important things to keep in mind for car maintenance? Read on for some simple things you can remember.
Basic Car Maintenance Checklist
During maintenance, it is important to check each car part to assess its overall condition.
A big factor of safety relies on our brakes, which are fueled by brake fluid. It is easy to check the hydraulic fluid. Start by locating the cylinder reservoir, which is usually mounted at the rear of the engine and should be directly in front of where the brake pedal is mounted.
The brake fluid level is fine if the marker inside or outside the cylinder is full. If the level is low, add brake fluid until it reaches the full line, and then check for leaks if there are any present.
The exterior and interior lights play a crucial role in every car, especially at night. The essential lights to check are the ones that illuminate the dashboard. Information about current gas level, speed, RPM, and others is important for the driver once the car hits the road.
Regarding exterior lights, checking the head and tail lights is a priority, as visibility is important during nighttime. Check them daily and make sure both sides are working. This goes hand-in-hand with the brake and signal lights. Drivers must be able to see every stop or turn for safety. Fog lights should also be checked, if the car has any, to be ready when any foggy situation arises.
Oil Level, Viscosity, Odor
Engine oil assists in keeping your engine running at an optimal level and in preventing premature engine problems. Think of it as the blood that lubricates the insides of our bodies.
First, check the car’s manual for the vehicle’s required temperature prior to a proper oil check.
Engine oil dipsticks are used to measure the oil level, as well as its viscosity and odor. To start, pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with a towel. Insert it inside the tube and wait a few moments to allow oil to saturate the stick. Pull it out for the second time to see the oil level, which should be between dipstick markings: one indicating maximum level and the other indicating minimum level.
As time goes by, oil begins to burn as it lubricates your engine, so it’s important to refill it when it reaches minimum levels. The car is in good condition when the level is at its maximum. If it’s somewhere in the middle, one may look for possible leaks or a top-up to bring it back to the maximum level.
The car’s engine helps cool your car when it runs. Overheating and engine damage are unavoidable without a proper water level running in the engine system. As a rule of thumb, remember to check the car’s water level when the engine is not hot. Locate your coolant reservoir after popping up the hood. The water level must be between the minimum and maximum levels.
The car runs at peak performance, especially when its battery is charged correctly. Testing a battery can be done by a mechanic or in the comfort of one’s home with a digital voltmeter. The battery is likely not fully charged when the voltage level drops below 12.29 volts. One can use car battery chargers, but make sure not to overcharge them. A trip to the mechanic may be a good idea when a battery is weakening.
Batteries are prone to corrosion, so checking them is a must. The acid that has built up makes it difficult to start the car. It’s important to clean battery terminals frequently. The ideal frequency is twice a year for acid stratification and battery charge.
Tire Air Pressure
The part of the car directly in contact with the ground is the tires. They are responsible for carrying the car’s overall weight. The four wheels roll as one when the car hits the road.
The tires’ pressure should not be too high or too low. The car’s manual specifies the pressure needed in the front and rear tires. Check every three days in your nearest gas station or by portable air pressure gauges. Correct air pressure covers safety and comfort for those riding in the car. It also helps the car’s longevity and fuel efficiency.
Cars need gas to run, so the gas level is one of the most important items to tick off your maintenance checklist. The fuel gauge is usually found on the dashboard, so it is easy to notice when doing a daily check. A quicker-than-usual dip in gas level may be a sign of a leak. Check if there is any. Also, it is important to know what kind of fuel (gasoline, diesel, etc.) runs the car.
There’s no telling when one will encounter trouble on the road. A flat tire, a busted battery, or an engine overheating are some unprecedented events that are not in anyone’s control. Thus, it is always important to have tools prepared for emergency cases.
The most essential car tools to always bring are jumpstart cables, wrench sets with screwdrivers, and vehicle jacks. A liter of clean mineral water, along with lubricants and cleaners, is also great to carry around. A handy car toolkit should save you a trip from going to a mechanic, especially if there isn’t one nearby.
Early Warning Devices (EWDs)
Car problems happen no matter how much you maintain your car. When a situation happens, pulling on the side of the road is inevitable. This is where early warning devices play a crucial role in safety.
Reflectorized material tools usually come in triangle shapes and warn other motorists on the road that there’s a stalled car nearby.
One can then do their own business to address the car problem that suddenly came out of the blue. Other motorists often pull up to help solve the problem and get the car to start running again. Remember that EWDs should always be among the essential tools you keep inside the vehicle.
While maintaining the different aspects of the car is important, one’s safety on the road largely depends on the driver’s condition. The driver must be fit to drive, which means they have had enough sleep and have not taken alcohol.
Aside from that, other medical conditions that affect driving should also be considered, especially involving eyesight and hearing. Drivers should also ensure they don’t have symptoms like nausea or any physical pain that could affect their driving. Lastly, the driver’s mental health issues should not be taken lightly. Having a well-conditioned driver is the other side of the coin of having a well-maintained vehicle.
Knowing When Your Car Needs Attention
No matter how often a car is maintained, inevitable situations can arise that may need owners to drive toward the nearest repair shop.
One of the most common indicators is the “check engine” light or warning on the dashboard when a repair is needed. It usually indicates a general problem that one may need to sort out further, such as those related to wheels, pedals, shift sticks, and even the engine itself.
Unusual shaking is another indicator that there’s something wrong with the vehicle. Electrical wires and tire problems might be causing it. Seasoned drivers also assess how the car feels, such as when using the pedals and the steering wheel when determining its need for a maintenance checkup. If something feels off, there probably is a problem.
Two Types of Car Maintenance
Eventually, one will need to know and strategize the maintenance that needs to be done with the vehicle’s current condition. For starters, there are two general types of automotive maintenance: preventive and corrective.
Simply put, preventive maintenance is the type that is scheduled and advised by the local car mechanic, which includes regular car fluid changes and mileage checks.
Preventive maintenance is done before any other vehicular problem happens. There are dates of inspection for the different parts of the vehicle. Make sure to follow this to increase a vehicle’s longevity.
Corrective maintenance is when a car failure has occurred and a repair is needed. Most of the time, this is urgent and should be tended to avoid any long-term damage to the vehicle. This greatly affects the smooth operation when the car runs on the road every day.
Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Practices for Cars
All around the world, people are shifting to eco-friendly practices and going with ways that align with sustainability. Everyone can start with small attainable goals when driving.
Using fuel efficiently can both impact your cost and help save the environment. Pedal control is one way of doing so. Aggressive driving wastes gas and exhausts all other parts of the vehicle faster.
Keeping a steady pace and reducing the number of times the brake pedal is used also conserves fuel. Why stomp on the accelerator more when the stoplight is just a few meters away? Slowing down a bit on that intersection line saves you from accidents and makes efficient use of fuel.
When tires have the right pressure, gas mileage is boosted and optimized to the last drop. Regularly inflating and maintaining the tires will save gas and increase tire life in the long run.
One can also opt to invest in fuel-efficient tires. This type of tire has low-rolling resistance, which entails the energy needed to move. This cuts a great deal of fuel used to get to the next destination
Air Conditioning Control
Air control runs on fuel and freon, which both help cool the vehicle’s interior. It doesn’t need to be always used in full. When the temperature is not too high, rolling the windows down to enjoy the breeze is a great alternative.
Tips on Maximizing a Car’s Life
Well-maintained cars can reach up to 15 years and more. Drivers that know how to sustainably extend their car’s life usually ride with their car up to its golden years. There are more than a few ways to lengthen your car’s life.
- Observe the usage of batteries. Avoid using the car for long periods unless necessary.
- Internal and external lights consume battery, so always check that they’re off after parking.
- Do regular preventive checkups on your own. Do it more than once a month if there’s time to spare.
- For more efficient use, top up car fluids regularly and always check on leaks for its repositories.
Protecting the vehicle from foreseeable external factors also extends its life.
- Park in safe spaces, even if it means paying more for a premium.
- Keep automotive tools in the trunk in case of problems with individual parts. It may help to fix the problem while it’s still small and controllable on your own before it turns into something big.
- Lastly, drive the car smoothly and safely.
Important Tools and Accessories for Cars
There’s a myriad of tools and accessories that elevate one’s lifestyle when using a car. Depending on the usage, one can bring the following along on the ride:
- Phone Holder. Save your hands for the driving wheel and the shift stick, and let the phone holder help you when going to the next destination.
- Punches and Chisels. This collection of tools brings multipurpose uses for car part problems. It’s best to keep various sizes and shapes in the trunk.
- Screwdriver Set. No need to say how important a set of these can be. It’s good to be ready to tighten any loose screws one may encounter.
- Air Compressor. It’s good to adjust tire pressure without relying on the nearest gas station. It has other quirky functions, too, such as running a pneumatic impact wrench.
- Torque Wrench. Aside from screws, loose nuts and bolts are a handful. This tool is useful for both starters and seasoned users.
Maintaining a car may feel overwhelming at first, but it gets easier when one learns how to thread the ground. There are practical ways to do it that don’t have to be expensive. The vehicle’s dependability and the safety of passengers will follow when maintenance is done well. When you take care of the car, the car will also take care of you.
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