We at Rob’s want to remind everyone that you should never ignore preventative maintenance. There’s always the basics like changing oil, checking tire pressure, and regular inspections. Those things are much like getting regular check-ups at the doctor. They keep you healthy and give the experts a chance to catch anything before it becomes a serious problem, which can save you thousands.
We recommend that you first become familiar with your owner’s manual. If you had purchased a used vehicle that didn’t come with an owner’s manual, here’s a handy resource that may help you. Inside each owner’s manual will be the regular maintenance schedule. You’ll see the manufacturers recommendations for changing your oil (helps to dispel the myth of changing it every 3,000 miles), air filters, drive or timing belts, and more.
There’s a few things you, the car owner, can do yourself periodically to stay on top of routine things.
- Do your own inspection. Taking a moment every month or so to check things like lights, blinkers, tire pressure, and tire tread is an easy process that can tell you when you’re ok and when you should bring your vehicle in. Making sure tire pressure and tread is on point is both good for your tires AND for your gas mileage. If you are unsure of how to check your tread, bring your vehicle into Rob’s AutomotiveService center and we can help you out.
- Learn to check your fluids. You don’t have to learn how to change the fluids, but you should know how to check the fluid levels. Most fluids (power steering, coolant, anti-freeze, oil, wiper fluid, etc) have gauges or dipsticks you can pull out to check against a notch/line showing optimal levels. Some fluids are in tanks you can look into directly. If you see that you’re running low, add more (if you can) or get it changed.
Most importantly – NEVER IGNORE A LEAK.
- Inspect and get your timing and serpentine belts replaced when necessary. The general rule is that you should have your timing belt replaced every 60,000 miles and serpentine belt replaced every 40,000 miles or so. Your owner’s manual will offer up more relevant numbers for your vehicle. If you don’t have the manual, searching around online will often pop up a better recommendation for your car. When you bring your vehicle in, make sure to ask your mechanic to inspect the belts when it’s close to replacement time (mileage wise). If they’re in good shape, don’t worry about it. If they’re worn, it’s best to get them replaced before they fail. The repair is more expensive if the belts fail than just having them replaced before failure.
- Check your battery and clean the contacts. Most batteries require very little in the way of maintenance. But, you should know where it is and be able to check if it’s leaking or if the contacts need a little scrubbing due to buildup.
- Have your air filters replaced. Both filters, cabin and engine, are relatively easy to replace, depending on your vehicle. Replacing the cabin filter, while not critical to your car’s operation, makes the ride more pleasant. The engine air filter, however, is something that should certainly be addressed. A clogged engine air filter can result in slow, sluggish performance. Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals, or check the filter manually if you can.
- Have your tires rotated, balanced, and have your alignment checked. Making sure your tires wear evenly ensures that your car will drive smoothly. Tires will last much longer by having them rotated and balanced. Alignment is also just as important. If you find yourself fighting to keep your car straight as you drive, that’s a bad situation that is easily corrected.
These are just some of the more prominent things you can do to help keep your vehicle on the road, rather than in the shop racking up massive repair bills.