Essential Car Maintenance Tips Before A Long Journey

Nobody likes to clear their wallet to pay the mechanic. That’s why it is vital to take preventive measures with routine maintenance, especially if you drive a car that is old or even new. Follow these essential car maintenance tips before you hit the road.

Our essential car maintenance tips checklist will help you know when it’s time to raise the hood and get your hands on grease. All the issues are addressed if you want to save money when taking extra care of your daily ride.

Keeping any vehicle in good condition with routine maintenance often improves safety beyond durability. In this article, we have gathered information that might be useful for your DIY car maintenance routine.

Engine oil

Essential Car Maintenance Tips

Not just random lubricants, every car engine needs the correct oil. The engine’s long life is only ensured when we comply with the carmaker and industry requirements. Only then the car engines can deliver the way it was designed, exacting the standards.

Failure to use the correct form of oil could void your new-car warranty. Most late-model cars need low-viscosity, multi-grade, resource-conserving synthetic-blend or full-synthetic oils that reduce friction and optimize fuel economy.

It is not always easy to choose the right oil. The correct oil for your vehicle model must have the correct SAE viscosity grade, comply with API, ILSAC, and ACEA performance requirements, and comply with any particular specifications set by the automaker or engine manufacturer.

Oil change intervals can differ depending on vehicle age, oil type, and driving conditions. The norm was to change the oil every 3000 miles, but today most engines got better; hence the interval is now 5000 to 7500 miles with improved modern lubricants.

Coolant, antifreeze, steering, and transmission fluids

Essential Car Maintenance Tips

Vehicles also need other fluids. One of these is washer fluid, which usually runs out quicker in winter, and when you’re running low, you should refill early.

There are dipsticks and gauges to find the fluid level of engine coolant, antifreeze, and steering fluid. The manual for your car does not explain how to prevent or refill them, but you can get to know where they are and have a look.

Transmission fluid is often not listed in manuals, as there is no universal mileage figure on when to adjust it, so it is best to consult with the carmaker to get a recommendation.

Replacing or refilling transmission fluids is a distinctly different job. Both the coolants and antifreeze have separate drains. When there’s a leak, and you are running low, refilling is easier.

Battery maintenance

It should never be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ regarding your car’s battery. It requires a degree of care and attention, like all other parts of a vehicle, to work as it should.

The car battery stores the needed electrical energy to start the ignition and keep the car running. Of course, you want to avoid being stuck with a dead battery, so there are some steps that you should take to keep your battery in good working order.

Regularly clean the battery, tighten the hold-down, use insulation to shield it from cold, and preserve its fluid levels. Drive the car frequently to retain the charge and unplug any gadgets while the vehicle is not working. Your battery will last 5 to 7 years with the proper treatment.

Tire maintenance

Essential Car Maintenance Tips

Experts recommend that about 6-10 years is the best time to discard the old tire and go for a new tire. Here, six years is suggested ideal, but the extreme limit is ten years if you find every bit of the tire superior.

The tires’ wear and tear also depend on many variables, such as driving style, the total number of kilometers driven, regional weather conditions, etc.

Make it a habit to check tire pressure periodically (every 2-4 weeks) as proper inflation can make driving much safer and make your tires last longer. Often keep the inflation pressure within the parameters suggested.

The tires lose pressure at a rate of about 0.69 bar, or 1 pound per square inch (psi) per month, even under ideal conditions. As temperatures increase, the rate rises.

In your car owner’s manual or on the sidewall of your tire, you can find the recommended pressure. Maintain five psi(0.3 kg/cm2) more pressure on the spare wheel than the usual recommendation.

Air and Cabin filter maintenance

Cabin air filters are made with fiber, carbon, and paper. It is only essential to replace paper filters, never to clean them. Some filters of fabric and carbon are reusable and can survive a wash.

Guide water from the clean side to the dirty one, sweeping top to bottom, using a hose at low pressure. Submerge, slosh back and forth and allow for a minimum of 10 minutes to soak. Then fill a soapy water container. If required, repeat with another batch of clean soapy water, rinse, and air dry on a towel in the sun.

Reinstall only when it is fully dry, or you will end up with mold. A reusable filter is washable unlimited times, you need to replace it with a new one only when it looks ragged, and holes start to appear.

Spark plug maintenance

It takes about an hour to change spark plugs (for a four-cylinder engine). And if you do it yourself, you can save at least a hundred bucks in labor. It’s an easy job in most cases to help sustain optimum efficiency and the maximum gas mileage possible.

The 100,000 miles rating does not apply to all spark plugs. Some manufacturers suggest replacements at an interval of 30,000 miles. To find out the recommended interval to replace spark plugs, the best way is to follow the owner’s manual.

But if you can’t remember the last time you adjusted your spark plugs, you can take them out and check the gap and their state. However, once you have put in the labor to start testing spark plugs, you may as well change them and build a new foundation for the future.

Belt maintenance

The drive belt, which has a serpentine shape, links the crankshaft to the alternator, power steering, AC, and every other essential component.

The crankshaft is part of the motor and provides power to the alternator. The crankshaft can also provide power to the water pump in some automobiles.

Depending on the vehicle, the exact location of the serpentine belt can vary. But usually, the belt resides at the front of the engine for most automobiles. Always make sure that the car’s engine is not running and cool enough while testing the belt.

To ensure no significant damage has occurred, mechanics would usually inspect the belt. Testing it yourself, though, is relatively straightforward.

Your car will not run properly, or vital components may lose control if the belt falls off the pulleys. To ensure it stays on the pulleys, the tensioner controls the amount of tension put on the belt.

The belt will slip off the pulleys if the pressure is loose and cause power loss by components driven by the belt. If a one-inch space on the belt contains more than three cracks, it is time to replace it.

Windshield Wiper maintenance

One of those car repair activities you can do yourself is changing wiper blades. You can substitute them as soon as you determine that your wiper blades are not cleaning your windows effectively.

Your uninterrupted vision and protection on the roadways are essential, which is why you need to clean residue from the windshield and whisk off the raindrops, spatters of mud, and snow.

The basic rule of thumb is that you have to replace the blades every 6 to 12 months, based on factors such as the area you live in and whether you park your car out in the open. Over time, the rubber begins to crack, break, melt and becomes dull.

The wipers tend to grip the windshield less effectively as they slowly decay. If you find any rubber abnormalities or notice that the blades do not clean as efficiently as they once did, it’s time to repair them.

Checking Engine Lights

It starts with a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when your car’s inspection engine light illuminates your dashboard.

The light might be a minor problem, such as a defective gas cap, or something more serious, such as a misfiring engine. In specific ways, it means that you will be visiting the car dealer to address the problem and turn off the lights.

Some of the primary triggers of engine light inspection include:
1. The sensor for oxygen has failed, and it needs to be replaced.
2. New spark plugs or plug wires are appropriate for you.
3. It’s time to replace the Airflow Sensor for Mass (MAF).
4. Your catalyst has failed and needs to be replaced.
5. The gas cap is loosened, weakened, or absent.

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