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Regular Car Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Car in the Best Condition

Updated on December 20, 2015

Your car has countless parts of which you can take care separately to keep your car in the best shape. However, you can also understand and perform some regular maintenance tasks for your car so that you don’t have to approach a mechanic every now and then. Here are a few important tips with which you can achieve that.

Maintenance of Tires and Wheels

Rotating Tires: After every 8,000 km or 5,000 miles, you should rotate your tires.

Cleaning Brake Dust: Brake dust consists of all types of harmful stuff. If it is left long on the brakes, the mixture of road grime, heat of your brakes and moisture bake it and fix on your wheels. It then sticks to the wheels because of static electricity. Take a moist sponge and cold clean water and clean it.

Checking Tire Pressure: It’s important to keep checking your tire pressure on regular basis, e.g. once a week. If the pressure is not proper, it can badly influence fuel economy, comfort and handling. This is an easy procedure and you have no reason for not doing it.

Checking Tread Depth: Slick smooth tires may be nice for a motor race but they are bad on the road. Today most tires are available with built-in tread wear bars. Find one and check. If you find your tread too low, it’s better to replace your tires. It may seem expensive to replace all the four tires, but it is definitely cheaper than an accident or a fine.

Maintenance of Engine

Checking Belts: You will find an array of rubber drive belts looping around different pulleys; from alternator to air-condition compressor, they drive everything. Rubber dies out in extreme situations like the ones seen in a running engine bay. Your timing belt as well as accessory drive belt should be checked after every 25,000 miles and replaced preferably after every 50,000 miles.

Fuel Economy: As mentioned earlier, you should regularly examine your tire pressure.

Examining Oil Level: Checking oil level is an easy thing to do and you can do it quickly. But it will give you valuable information about whether your engine is in need of oil. Oil level should not be too low or too high because it can cause problems to engine. For checking oil level, park the car on an even ground and wait for some time till the engine cools down. Then find the dipstick. Take it out and clean it. Push it back in till its top is placed correctly in the dip tube. Wait for a second and again take it out. Check the oil level. It’s good if it is between the low and high marks. (In case of too low level, add a bit.) You can identify the low and high marks which are indicated by two dots, an “L” and “H” or a shaded spot on the dipstick. You might think about why not read the oil level in the first round itself. This is because when you take the dipstick out for the first time, it is doused in oil all over and it’s difficult to find the level. Therefore you should first wipe it with a rag and then dip it in the oil; this gives you a good reading.

What can happen if the oil is filled more than “high”? When the engine is run for the next time, the pressures like the crankcase windage and others created by the oil pump will place an extra strain on the seal of the rear bearing. As a result, sooner or later the bearing will rupture and the engine starts leaking.

Examining Coolant Level: This is also an extremely easy procedure. Coolant is another must for your engine. You can find the location of your coolant reservoir by referring to your manual. It is usually fastened to one of the two sides of engine bay. It would be a semi-transparent white bottle. Let the engine cool and then check it. There are ‘high’ and ‘low’ markings on the outer side of it and the coolant level should ideally be between them.

DO NOT CHECK THE COOLANT LEVEL BY TAKING OUT THE RADIATOR CAP, BECAUSE IF THE COOLANT SYSTEM IS HOT, IT WOULD BE STILL UNDER PRESSURE WHICH MAY BURN YOU.

Checking Coolant Level

Maintenance Regarding Fuel

Many drivers may think that higher octane gives more power or better gas mileage. It’s not so. There are high compression engines in sportier cars which create more power and need high octane fuel to avoid detonation. The origin of the words “premium is equal to more power” is here. It is not suitable to every car. If your car manual tells you to use “regular fuel”, you should use regular.

Maintenance of Paint/Bodywork

Keeping Paint in Good Condition: Choose only better-quality detailing supplies which can keep the exterior and interior of your car like new. Today, a lot of high quality polishes and waxes are available. If you polished or waxed your car ten years ago, you will find things drastically changed since then. Today’s polishes and waxes are far more advanced in terms of saving your car’s paint from fading, the look as well as the simplicity in application.

Maintenance of Electrical Parts

Disconnecting Battery: If you will be doing any work in which electrical system is involved, first cut off the battery. For doing this, first loosen the negative (ground) terminal connector and waggle the cap off. Tie the cable out of the way with a wire. If you want to remove the battery out, you can remove the positive connector this time.

You may be interested in knowing the reason for first removing the negative and then positive connector. This is because if the positive connector is disconnected, the negative one remains connected to the whole car. If a tool is dropped on the positive battery terminal and gets in contact with any other part of the car, there will be an electrical short. When you disconnect the negative first, you cut off the return path of the electrical current. In that situation, if a tool lands in any of the battery terminals, it makes no difference because there is no unhindered path for the current.

Reconnecting Battery: While reconnecting the battery, first join the positive terminal and then the negative, i.e. the reverse of disconnecting. Reason is same for this. Don’t get scared of the spark which takes place when you slide the negative connector on. Ensure that the caps on terminals are done tight.

Checking Battery Terminals

Today’s most cars operate on a negative ground 12-volt electrical system. If your contacts or battery terminals are not clean, it will be tough for the current to flow around the system. Take off the terminal caps as told above and then clean each of the contact posts using a wire brush which will give you a fine clean metallic contact surface. Perform the same with the terminal caps too and then reconnect them as mentioned above.

Maintenance of Lights

One Blinker (Indicator) Flashes Faster than the Other: If this happens it indicates that one of them has blown. You can know what type of bulb you will require to replace it from an auto parts shop and your manual too will show you how to spot the indicator bulbs. Be careful about not touching the glass while you are changing the headlight bulbs because most of these bulbs of today have specialized coatings on the external side of the glass. When you touch the glass, trace amounts of grease and oils will be left on the glass. That portion of the glass will be hotter when the bulb will be used and as a result the bulb will crack. Wear mechanic’s/surgical gloves and hold the bulb at the holder at its base.

Basic Car Maintenance

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