Car Maintenance: Essentials To Keep Your Car Running Smoothly
“Timely maintenance of the car is the key to its long and trouble-free life” is how the saying goes. There is no doubt that car maintenance should be second nature for all car owners, but with everything that’s going on around us, it’s easy for car upkeep to fall through the cracks.
In this article, we’ll discuss the key components of car maintenance, and provide you with some actionable tips to help your car run smoothly and for you to save money on maintenance costs.
What is car maintenance?
Car maintenance is defined as planned work that is done on a regular basis (at least we hope it is). Typically, car maintenance can cover a wide range of mechanical tasks however they are essentially boiled down into three key phases:
- Diagnostics of the car as a whole or its individual parts
- Adjustment of systems/components
- Replacement of parts and/or fluids.
Car maintenance is separate from mechanical repair, which is usually required when your car or its components break down (or are on their way to). Maintenance is essentially pre-defined, scheduled work done on a frequent basis to keep your vehicle in top shape.
Diagnostics of your car as a whole or its individual components can range from a simple visual inspection to using complex tools and digital software to detect and fix any issues. Regularly checking your car and its key components allow you to identify any issues early on, and make the necessary adjustments to fix them.
Replacements of components such as lubricants, coolant, filters, brake pads, and drive belts are necessary because they have a limited lifespan, and waiting until all fluids have evaporated or belts are worn out can lead to more serious consequences.
Key car maintenance actions
Before heading out on a long trip, the driver is always responsible for checking the condition of their car. While no one may force them to do so, it is common sense and best practice to briefly check the state of the car including the brake pads, coolant level, tyre pressure, headlights, and for any leaks. This basic inspection, akin to a diagnosis, should be part of daily maintenance.
Here is a brief guideline that covers some of the main car maintenance actions:
As part of maintenance you would look over the brake pads, wheels, calipers, and brake fluid levels. Making sure that brake pads are not worn out and that there is enough brake fluid will make your brakes more responsive.
When doing a tyre check you would assess the tyre pressure and the tread depth. Tyre maintenance ensures that the vehicle moves well, has excellent traction, and is secure to drive.
Battery maintenance would involve checking the battery for corrosion, ensuring that the battery is clean and dry and that your car starts without any hiccups.
Check car fluid levels:
Examine the levels of different fluids that are critical to the car’s performance, including engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windscreen water.
Air filter maintenance:
Air filters keep dirt, debris, and other unwanted junk from entering the engine. A dirty air filter can reduce engine performance and fuel efficiency, and can cause engine damage over time. We would advise that every 15 thousand kilometers you change your air filter.
Spark plugs maintenance:
Over time, spark plugs can become worn, dirty, or fouled, which is why we would recommend replacing them every 45 thousand kilometers.
Source your own parts
To potentially save money on maintenance costs, you can try to source spare car parts yourself or switch to less expensive, second-hand parts that you have at your disposal. There are several places where you can look for spare parts including local auto shops, online retailers, or even junk yards.
However, make sure that the part’s components are intact, it’s compatible with your vehicle and the quality is at least satisfactory. One thing to note is that some car dealerships may not allow the use of customer-supplied parts, especially if your car is still under warranty.
Don’t neglect the importance of maintenance
In summary, dedicating a small portion of the day to checking your car’s condition will come a long way to saving you hundreds of dollars, and prolonging your car’s life. While there are several forms of car maintenance, everything that you will do for your car will ultimately go toward its optimal performance.