Cars aren't much different than people. If you exercise and eat healthy (take good care of your vehicle), then you might be able to avoid an expensive trip to the doctor or hospital (auto repair shop). Here are five highly important preventive measures that will improve the health and longevity of your vehicle.
1. Check your fluids.
65% of drivers get oil changes on time, but only 12% maintain their brake fluid properly.
This is risky business. If your brakes failed at a bad time, you could end up in a deadly car accident. Most drivers also neglect coolant and transmission fluid, according to a survey of mechanics by AAA.
Keep it simple. Check all fluids once per month. If you’re not sure where they are located, read your vehicle's owner's manual. Make sure your transmission fluid is red. Any other color could indicate a problem. If your coolant looks colorless or rusty, ask a mechanic to perform a flush.
2. Analyze your tires.
Tires are under-appreciated. Your vehicle couldn’t go anywhere without them. Treat them well.
A lot of auto blogs recommend sticking an upside-down penny in your tire tread. If Abe Lincoln’s head is visible, that means your tread is wearing thin.
In reality, the situation is more complicated. The lifespan of a tire depends on climate, road condition, proper inflation, and more. Ask a mechanic to check out your tires at least once or twice per year. It would be smart to do this before winter arrives, especially when big snows are the norm in your town.
3. Inspect your battery.
Did you know your car has a heart? It’s called a battery. Your vehicle couldn’t even start without one.
If you don't want to get stranded in the grocery store parking lot on a cold day, then you should check your battery for corrosion once a month.
You don't have to look hard. Most batteries are black. Corrosion has the appearance of a white residue on a battery's post. If your battery looks like it’s covered in snow, ask a mechanic to clean its terminals.
4. Maintain your timing belt.
The timing belt is a crucial part of your engine. It has to open and close valves at a precise time for your car to function properly.
A malfunction could damage essential areas of your engine including valves, pistons, and water pumps. Preventing this issue costs $500-900.
That sounds expensive. Let me put it in perspective. Preventing a problem is less expensive than curing one. Broken timing belts cost $2,000 to fix. Ouch. Are you starting to see how prevention pays off?
5. Follow your vehicle's maintenance schedule.
Open your glove box, take out your owner's manual, and read the maintenance schedule carefully.
If you're not up-to-date, take your car to a mechanic and get caught up. Yes, it is an investment, but it’s a smart one that will definitely save money in the future.
Taking care of the car in your driveway is much cheaper than buying a new one. Nothing is free in life. You have to spend a little bit of money on prevention now to save a lot of money in repairs later.
What do you think?
Have you ever neglected an auto repair so long that it caused a more serious problem? If so, tell us about it in the comments. You might motivate our readers to take better care of their vehicles, too. Please share this blog with your friends on Facebook and Twitter so they can be car smart like you.
Audra Fordin is the founder of Women Auto Know (WAK). She wants to connect drivers with mechanics who are willing to earn their trust. Check out more action-packed blogs plus a free trusted auto shop directory at www.WomenAutoKnow.com.