If you’re like the majority of high school students who had a car, your parents more than likely took care of auto maintenance. They took the car in for an oil change, tire rotation, and car wash. Now that you’re on your own, the car is your responsibility. Auto maintenance may not seem too important in your weekly routine, but preventive care has the potential to save you lots of money in the future. Below are a few tips to keep your automobile in good shape.
A tire should have at least 2/32 to 4/32 of an inch tread on it. An easy way to measure this depth is using the penny test. Stick a penny in between the treads with Lincoln’s head pointing down (see below). If the top of the tread reaches above Lincoln’s head (his head is 2/32 of an inch from the edge), your tire is fine. If the tread is below Lincoln’s head, it’s time to get a new tire. By rotating your tires you can also maintain the lifespan of the tire tread and limit wear patterns. Wore out treads can put you at the risk of a blowout or cause you to hydroplane in wet weather conditions.
All tires have a recommended tire pressure, which can be found in your car manual, inside of your driver’s side door, or on the tire. Maintaining proper tire pressure prolongs the life of your tires as well as improves your fuel efficiently. Routinely checking your tire pressure will also help you recognize if there is a small leak in your tire. To check your tire pressure, you can use a tire gauge. It’s smart to keep one in your glove compartment. If the pressure is low, you can take your vehicle to an auto shop or most gas stations have air pumps. It’s important to keep an appropriate pressure level. Do not overinflate your tires or leave them underinflated. For information on changing a tire, visit How to Change a Tire blog.
The recommended range for an oil change is between 7,500 miles to 15,00 miles depending on the make, model, and year of your car. Routinely changing the oil in your car helps to preserve the engine life of your vehicle. There are usually coupons available online or weekly specials for different auto shops.
Coolant (aka Antifreeze).
Vehicles require coolant to cool their engines and prevent overheating. The location of the coolant reservoir can be found in your vehicle’s manual. Try to keep the reservoir full up to the line indicated on the container. Coolant comes premixed in a 50/50 blend with water. If your engine’s coolant isn’t a bright color like the new mixture, you may need to flush the cooling system. **WAIT UNTIL YOUR VEHICLE IS COMPLETELY COOL BEOFRE ATTEMPTING to add coolant or other maintenance.
Ask your auto mechanic to check the quality of your brakes whenever you take your car in for an oil change. This is especially important if you have an older car or if you have recently been in an accident.
Steering & Suspension.
Your vehicle may have a problem if it seems to pull or drift left or right. If you suspect a problem, ask a mechanic who specializes in steering, wheels, or suspension works. Steering and suspension issues are serious issues that could cause your vehicle to suddenly breakdown.
Replacement of Parts.
You should seek professional assistance for any major auto repair or replacement. There are, however, some simple replacements you can do on your own such as windshield wipers, headlight bulbs, or air filters. Of course, if you do not feel comfortable, away seek help. Sometimes if you buy the replacement pairs at an auto shop like Auto Zone, the friendly staff will replace the part of you at no charge. Just ask!