National Car Care Month in April is the time of year to give your car some extra attention. Basic maintenance can go a long way toward improving the safety and dependability of your vehicle, plus it helps avoid costly repairs down the road.
In April, as winter comes to an end, it is time to get your car ready for spring driving and summer road trips! It is important to make sure your tires, brakes, and windshield wipers are ready for the rain and take care of any issues that may have occurred or been ignored during winter.
Neglecting your vehicle almost always means much higher repair costs down the road and lost resale value. Most cars on the road today need some work. National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle’s maintenance needs.
Here are 10 Basic Maintenance Procedures to keep your car operating at its best:
- Check the oil, filters, and fluids. Oil should be checked at every fill-up and changed per the owner’s manual recommended intervals. Brake, transmission, power steering, coolant, and windshield washer fluids should also be checked regularly. Your car’s filters, including those for the transmission, fuel system, and interior ventilation, need regular inspection and replacement.
- Inspect hoses at each oil change and have them replaced when leaking, brittle, cracked, rusted, swollen, or restricted. Check V-belts and serpentine belts for looseness and condition, and have them replaced when cracked, frayed, glazed, or showing signs of excessive wear. Typically replace the timing belt between 60,000 and 90,000 miles or the interval specified in the owner’s manual to avoid a breakdown or serious engine damage.
- Check the engine brake system every year and have the brake linings, rotors, and drums inspected at each oil change.
- Check that the battery connection is clean, tight, and corrosion-free. The battery should be securely mounted. If it is three years old or more, the battery should be tested and replaced if necessary.
- Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage, and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. Exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected without delay.
- Schedule a tune-up that will help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions.
- Check the car’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting.
- Inspect the steering and suspension system annually, including shock absorbers and struts, and chassis parts, such as ball joints, tie rod ends, and other related components.
- Check the pressure of all tires, including the spare, at least once a month. Check the tread for uneven or irregular wear and cuts and bruises along the sidewalls. Have your car’s alignment checked at least annually to reduce tire wear and improve fuel economy and handling.
- Test exterior and interior lights and have bulbs that are not working checked immediately. Replace windshield wiper blades every six months or when cracked, cut, torn, streaking, or chattering for optimum wiping performance and safety.