The importance of Preventative Maintenance can’t be stressed enough. It will help your car last longer, lower big bills caused form neglect and keep you safe. Regular maintenance will help you avoid most of these, but we thought you could use the reminder, or gift this list to a new driver, so they don’t get caught neglecting the potentially most dangerous car care items.
Tires are your contact to the road and with how simple tire care is, there is no excuse not to do a quick safety check. A five minute check of your tires each month, including the spare, is a good habit to get into for your safety and is recommended by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA). Check the air pressure, wear pattern irregularities and tread. If you are driving and hit something, including a curb or pothole or notice a vibration, it is a good idea to have your vehicle checked by an auto mechanic.
If the integrity of your car is damaged by rust there could be a significant safety concern in the case of an accident as the body of the vehicle is meant to offer protection. Likewise, if components of your vehicle are exposed due to rust, they can’t perform properly. Exposure to the environment can cause faster deterioration of parts, therefore rust should be taken care of early or prevented with car washes and protectants/ sealants.
3. Timing Belt
“Timing belts must be replaced at the manufacturer’s recommended distance and/or time periods. Failure to replace the belt can result in complete breakdown or catastrophic engine failure… typically every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.”
If you don’t replace your timing belt as recommend, it can break and ruin your engine and damage pistons and valves, which is a serious safety concern that could cost you your vehicle, especially if you are traveling at high speeds when your timing belt snaps. It is one of the items listed in your owner’s manual as a required service, so don’t put it off.
Bad or good brakes can literally be a life and death difference. Your brake pads wear thin over time while they are being used. The pads should be at least 2mm thick to work properly, and if not, they need to be replaced to keep you safe. If you notice a vibration, pulling, or a brake pedal that goes all the way to the floor without adequate braking, see an auto mechanic as soon as possible.
Along with brakes, are rotors. Rotors are the disk the brake pads will come in contact with in order for the braking system to work properly. Failure to replace the brake pads can cause a grinding sound which is actually the sound of the worn out pads rubbing against the rotors. This will cause the need for one or both of those to be replaced as well, which means more money out of your pocket. Your rotors should have a relatively smooth surface, but if you notice dips or grooves, they should be replaced. If they are damaged, they can cause uneven wear on the brake pads, causing stopping problems.
6. Windshield Wipers
This may seem like a funny thing to bring up in a safety list, but you have to see out the window in order to keep you safe when driving in rain, snow or a freak bug storm. Windshield wipers are inexpensive and can be replaced simply- you can likely do it yourself. The auto parts store, as well as your auto mechanic will be able to tell you the right size for your vehicle as well as offer a brand recommendation, if needed. Also make sure your windshield washer fluid is full, especially before long trips or bad weather conditions.
7. Fuel Lines
Check your fuel lines as with age, leaks can appear, and as with anything dealing with a flammable liquid, it is important to have them in check. Over 200 people a year die in car fires, and it is reported there are over 150,000 car fires per year.
“Forgetting or neglecting to properly maintain your car can indirectly lead to a vicious car fire.” SOURCE: Top 10 Causes of Car Fires
8. Ball Joints
Like a hip joint with a ball and socket design, a ball joint connects your car’s control arms to the steering knuckles to allow for safe, accurate and smooth turning. The ability to have our cars go the direction we need them to is top of the list in safety. That means faulty ball joint can cause your tire to collapse under the weight of the car. Ball joints can be checked when you get an oil service, or when you hear any creaking or knocking, or if you notice uneven tire wear.
Faulty lights can be a safety concern similarly to windshield wipers. Your vision needs to be clear when driving and bad lighting can cause problems both in the cab as well as outside your vehicle. Sometimes, it can mean you aren’t seen by other drivers, causing a safety concern. Other times, dim lights can cause you to miss obstructions. If you are having lighting issues, talk to your auto mechanic about your options which could include a simple bulb replacement, headlight restoration service or even an electrical repair.
10. Fluid Levels
- Ignoring fluid levels can cause small problems to become large ones. Neglecting your oil levels can cause your engine to seize up. Transmission fluid should be replaced about every 30-60k miles and checked every month. If it smells burnt, is low in its level or is brown, it needs to be replaced. Anti-freeze/ coolant levels should be checked at service intervals and ignoring that could cause you to be overheated and stalled on the side of the road.
By taking time each month to check your tires and fluid levels and getting regular preventative maintenance by an auto mechanic, you can keep your vehicle lasting longer and keep yourself safe behind the wheel. If you have questions about auto repairs, recommended services or general automotive safety, give us a call, we are happy to help you understand your vehicle and make better informed decisions.
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