7 Car Maintenance Tips Drivers Ignore Too Often
Every car on the road has different problems, and while a fraction of these appear because of manufacturer mistakes, mostly it’s the owner who doesn’t take good care of his car. For example, if your car’s suspension started making clunking noises recently – it only takes a few weeks of ignoring it, and you’ll end up with even more suspension parts that need replacing. The same goes for changing engine oil – regular oil changes significantly increase the engine’s longevity.
But this time, let’s leave these obvious tips behind and focus on ones that people tend to forget but shouldn’t. Here are seven car maintenance tips drivers ignore too often!
Check battery’s charge
Modern cars have dozens of various control units and electrical systems. Each of them must have a constant power supply (voltage) to work properly – both car battery and alternator are responsible for this. So, you need to check both charges!
You’ll need a multimeter for this test, but if you aren’t familiar with this device, you should take your car to a professional car electrician. When the engine is off, the battery’s voltage should be no less than 12 volts. After starting the engine, it should rise up to 13,5-15 volts.
A dead battery cannot provide steady voltage, and a weak alternator cannot charge the battery properly – you may end up fixing complicated and expensive electrical systems by ignoring this.
Balance wheels regularly
How many times have you heard people whining about how “weak” suspensions are in particular car models? These “weaknesses” can often be cured with just one simple habit of a driver – regular wheel balancing.
Many drivers own two sets of wheels – ones for summer and others for winter seasons. So, when another tire season comes, they only need to replace their wheels, and that can be done right on a driveway. However, the problem is that one set of tires lasts for 4-5 years and they are being balanced only once, but it should be done at least 2-3 times a year.
When tires get out of balance, suspension suffers from constant micro-vibrations, and that is what often makes suspensions “weak”. So, even if you already have rims fitted with tires – take them for balancing a couple of times a year.
Replace worn hoses
This can be done either by you or your mechanic, but inspecting hoses in an engine compartment is a crucial part of car maintenance. You can find many of them surrounding your car’s engine – usually, they contain coolant, power steering, brake steering fluids, or even vacuum. In either way – all hoses should be tight and sealed. Be aware that you should read your car’s service manual before taking part in such tasks.
Lubricate door seals
Believe it or not, lubricating door seals in your car is important all year round. It helps to prevent them from sticking to metal during cold seasons, and its protective layer keeps rubber safe from the direct sunlight during summer. Moreover, water is the main enemy of rubber sealings as it washes away the natural oils, which are necessary to keep it elastic.
You may have seen some “silicone sealant” products in various shops and malls. Silicone is a very flexible and sturdy material, which does a perfect job as a protective layer on rubber. And don’t forget to apply it on trunk and bonnet seals too!
Check all fluids
While some fluids should be checked only by a mechanic, you can check most of them yourself. Every driver knows that a regular oil check is vital, but how about coolant, power steering, brake, even window washer fluids?
Coolant is responsible for your engine temperature. If its level is low, the risk of overheating an engine increases greatly. Power steering fluid is the main part of hydraulic steering systems – not only are you risking losing power steering, but you may also damage the pump when there’s little to no power steering fluid at all.
And we probably don’t need to talk about what happens when there’s no brake fluid left.
Lastly, remember that summer coolant and window washer fluids are prone to freezing in sub-zero temperatures, so make sure to change them with winter fluids when needed.
Don’t ignore squeaky wiper blades
Squeaky windshield wipers are annoying, sure. But how do you feel about the fact that they also damage your windshield? Windshield wipers squeak because of small cracks in blades and an accumulation of dirt on them, which also slowly but surely scratches the glass.
So, if you don’t want to see a “spider web” on your windshield during sunny days – replace squeaky wipers or their blades before it’s too late.
Check tire pressure
Every car manufacturer has calculated the optimal tire pressure for each of their models. Bigger pressure is required in heavier cars and SUVs, and it also depends on how many passengers usually are in a car. Sadly, there’s no universal pressure, which could be safe to your hatchback and your friend’s off-roader.
Either if tire pressure is too low or high, there is a higher chance of damaging tires or, even worse, losing traction unexpectedly.
Usually, tire inflation charts are located on the inside of the middle pillars or fuel door. Once you know the optimal pressure, use a pressure gauge to check it.
Lack of maintenance is the source of most car problems
Don’t blame the manufacturer for excessive smoke from the exhaust or vibrations from the suspension – almost all problems and faults are the consequences of delayed oil changes, ignoring unpleasant sounds, and saving money on proper maintenance.
Ultimately, it is much cheaper to do some regular check-ups and fix small problems before they become deep money-sucking pits.