Car Maintenance - What to Check and When to Check It 1

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

A well-performing vehicle is invaluable as it can be a workhorse that your family relies upon to help them fulfill their daily obligations, but it can also be an outlet for adventure as the vessel for a summer road trip down California’s Pacific Coast Highway. While your vehicle can provide almost limitless transportation to many locations, a car does require that proper maintenance is completed in order to maintain optimal functioning. Failing to perform required car maintenance can actually cause an injury or accident to take place.

In some instances, a vehicle owner may be held liable for costs incurred due to their negligent vehicle repair record. “When vehicle owners fail to take accountability in having their cars repaired when necessary, they are more prone to initiating an accident and are increasing the chance that they could hurt a pedestrian, bicyclist, passenger, or other drivers,” remarked Jason Hennessey, marketing consultant for a car accident lawyer in Atlanta.

Be sure that the following aspects of the vehicle are regularly maintained or checked to avoid a possible insurance claim against you or a collision that could leave lasting damage.

Oil

Usually, a first car maintenance topic that drivers learn is how to properly check their car’s oil. Your car depends on clean oil to keep the vehicle mechanisms functioning properly and requires a certain amount of oil to operate. Checking the oil may be a simple method of noticing whether or not the car has any leaks, and an oil change is a fairly straightforward vehicle maintenance task.

Every car requires that the oil be changed according to the recommendations outlined by the vehicle manual or the mechanic’s recommendation. It is a fairly simple task, or a mechanic can do it for you. Vehicles that are fairly old may require more oil. However, if the car is going through large amounts of oil, it may need to be taken to a mechanic.

Tire Pressure

Every vehicle owner can most likely benefit from owning a handheld gauge to check the tire pressure as the use of these small tools can prevent a tire from becoming flat or blowing out entirely. If a tire is not inflated to the correct level, it can blowout while on the road which could cause an accident, or it may leave the driver stranded alone on a desolate road. Driving with the incorrect inflation level could also negatively impact fuel efficiency. A tire manufacturer and/or the vehicle owner’s manual will have guidelines for the correct tire pressure.

Power Steering Fluid

Vehicles that do not have power steering are difficult to drive, which is why it is imperative to monitor the level of this fluid to keep the ride smooth. A car could become much more challenging to control if the car’s power steering terminates, and low power steering fluid levels are typically first noticeable when a creaking noise or other odd sound occurs around the area of the steering wheel.

The level of the fluid can be usually be checked without a mechanic, so it should become a regular step in your vehicle maintenance schedule as a periodic flush of the old fluid can be beneficial for a vehicle. As it is not typical for fluid to leak, vehicles that do have low power steering fluid levels should see a mechanic.

Brakes

Brakes are the most crucial safety aspect of any car. While drivers can usually figure out that their brakes may not be in the best condition by listening for a screeching noise, it is better to regularly have the brakes monitored by a professional. Brakes should never be taken for granted, as they are essential in avoiding an accident to stop the car when needed.

If brakes are not monitored regularly, additional repair expenses will likely be faced, specifically regarding brake discs. However, brakes do not have to fail entirely to make an accident take place. Choosing not to have brakes checked periodically can cause them to be more hazardous as the distance to stop increase slowly.

Alignment

Motorists should also have the alignment checked regularly because it directly affects the way a vehicle maneuvers while in motion. It may be easy to tell if the alignment needs to be checked, but adjusting the alignment when required can prolong the life of the vehicle and it will react and steer appropriately during instances where sudden movements are needed.

Coolant/Antifreeze

Especially in colder locations, sufficient antifreeze is necessary to help your vehicle function correctly. Frigid temperatures can be difficult on a car. If a vehicle runs out of coolant, it likely will overheat. This is why coolant must be checked regularly, especially during times when temperatures are hotter, as it keeps the car cool while it runs.

Drivers can check the coolant by removing the cap of the radiator only when the engine has completely cooled down. Be sure to never touch it when the vehicle is running or if the area is still hot. The coolant is located within the radiator, and the radiator cap can be removed easily. A measurement indicator will show how much coolant remains. More coolant may be added if required, but be sure to only use the kind of coolant that was previously in the tank.

Tire Tread

Your entire vehicle relies on the tire tread to provide adequate traction while gripping tight corners, and it is critical when conditions are particularly icy or wet. Watch for any tire wear, and watch for other potential issues. An accident could take place if a blowout occurs while driving and the tire has low tread or defects.

If drivers keep their vehicles in prime operating condition, they have a much higher likelihood that their car will give them control and keep them safe while driving. While it may take time to monitor these aspects of vehicle maintenance, making it a priority to check them can save fuel, expenses, and possibly even injuries or lives.