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How to Properly Maintain Your Car

How to Properly Maintain Your Car

How to Properly Maintain Your Car

Routine maintenance of any vehicle is something every car or truck owner should be doing, but very few people actually do. It's not surprising that most people don't know when their vehicles last had an oil change, or whether or not they need new tires. If you want to turn over a new leaf this year and really do everything you can to make your vehicle last a long time, here's a quick guide to routine maintenance.

Oil Changes

The oil in your engine lubricates the pistons of the car, which are in a constant state of friction inside the engine. If they aren't properly lubricated, your engine overheats and locks up. Once the engine locks up, it blows up and the car will not run.

The other problem with keeping your engine well-lubricated is that oil burns up and turns into this sticky black mess. That sticky black mess can make your engine less efficient and not able to move as well as it would with fresh oil. Changing the oil in your vehicle every 3,000 miles or every 3 months makes your car run much better and with fewer engine troubles. Just keep in mind that an oil change is every 3,000 miles OR every three months, not when your car reaches both milestones.

Brakes

Brakes are another vital component to your vehicle. No brakes means no way to stop the car or truck, and then you are in a very dangerous situation. Brakes should be checked two to three times a year, and it's easiest to have them checked when you change or rotate your tires. Otherwise schedule a time to have brakes checked a few times a year and as soon as you are able.

Onboard Computer

Every car that is ten years old or less has an onboard computer. Some cars that are twenty years old or less may also have an onboard computer. This box is located under the hood near the engine. It is programmed to manage everything from warning lights to certain engine components and functions. New software for the onboard computer needs to be downloaded annually. The whole system also needs to be checked annually or whenever a trouble or warning light comes on.

Coolant and Antifreeze

Coolant and antifreeze are essentially the same product with one exception. In winter it is not diluted with much water (if any water at all) because the water can still freeze and crystallize in the engine block. In summer, the coolant is usually a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water to act as a coolant during hotter temperatures.

If you aren't already aware of this, you need to transition your vehicle from summer coolant to winter antifreeze. If you don't and the outdoor temperature drops below zero, the water and antifreeze/coolant mixture used in summer could freeze up and lock up the engine block. In some cases, the water content has been known to crack engine blocks too, in which case your engine is dead and can't be rescued.

Have a mechanic switch your coolant mixture to almost pure antifreeze in late fall in preparation for winter. In late spring, have the mechanic switch it back again to a coolant mixture. At both times of the year the radiator has to be drained and flushed before the new coolant or new antifreeze can be added back into the radiator. Doing so will protect your engine in extreme temperatures all year long.

Check, Rotate, Align, and Balance Your Tires

Your tires are what connect your vehicle to the road. It is very important that you have them checked for proper tread and inflation, rotate them, align them, and have them balanced at least once a year. It helps distribute wear evenly and keep your wheels straight while you drive.

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