Do you know how your gearhead friend is always talking about keeping your car in good shape? You might tell them it’s okay and just jump in and go, forgetting to heed their advice. Unfortunately, you’re setting yourself up for a shoulder-shrugging, head-shaking “I told you so!” from your friend. Avoid recriminations by learning five things on your car you should check regularly. This way, you can save money and keep safe on the road.
Tire Pressure and Treads
Good tires are crucial for a safe drive, and checking your tire pressure is easy. Most gas stations have air pumps with built-in pressure gauges, so all you have to do is follow your car manual’s guidelines for the ideal psi (pounds per square inch).
Worn-out treads can cause all sorts of problems, from hydroplaning to decreased traction to blowouts.
One tried and true way to spot a worn tire is utilizing the penny test. For this, all you need to do is take a spare penny and place it in the tire tread with the top of Lincoln’s head pressed against the rubber. If you can still see the top of Lincoln’s head, then it may be time to switch out your tires. Being able to see it is one of many clear indications it’s time for new tires.
Your car’s engine relies on oil for lubrication. It keeps moving metal parts from rubbing against each other and creating friction that could cause your car to grind to a halt. Grab a paper towel, and check your oil levels every couple of months.
If you’re unsure how to do it, you just need to locate the dipstick and pull it completely out of its housing. Once you have the entire dipstick, you need to clean it off, and make sure there is no excess oil; this is essential for an accurate reading. Once you clean it off, place the stick fully back in its housing, then take it out once more. If the oil level is low, top it off with the type of oil recommended in your owner’s manual. And remember to follow your car manual’s recommendations for oil changes at regular intervals.
Lights and Blinkers
Having fully functioning lights doesn’t just keep you safe; it also protects other drivers. Plus, you don’t want a cop to pull you over because a headlamp or brake light is out on your car.
That’s why you should regularly check your car’s headlights, turn signals, brake lights, and reverse lights. If you notice a bulb is out, replace it pronto. Also, be sure to clean off any dirt or grime that could reduce your car lights’ visibility.
Brakes and Fluids
Squeaking, grinding, or a mushy brake pedal can all indicate brake problems. So if you notice any of these signs, get your brakes checked by a professional mechanic immediately. Regularly maintaining your brakes will add years to your life and give you peace of mind while driving.
In addition to maintaining your brakes, you should check, or have your mechanic check, other fluid levels in your car as recommended in your owner’s manual. Your car may have coolant, transmission fluid, and fluids for things like power steering or the clutch in a manual transmission.
Filters and Windshield Wipers
Your car has various filters (like cabin and engine air filters and an oil filter) that need periodic replacements to keep the air in the cabin and the oil inside your engine clean. And don’t forget about windshield wipers and window washing fluid! Wipers deteriorate over time, and having a clear view of the road is a must, especially during bad weather.
With a bit of care and attention, you can make sure your car is ready to drive.