Take care of your car, and your car will take care of you. Preventative maintenance and regular checkups are the way to keep your ride reliable.
Over the course of your ownership with a car, things tend to wear out. They may even wear out to the point of breaking or maybe consumed until reservoirs run dry. Generally, with the scheduled service plans recommended by your car's manufacturer, you will keep your car in decent health.
But your mileage may vary. Your usage, just like the conditions your car goes through, will be different from what other people may face. Maybe you have your car as something you only drive on weekends, or maybe you drive particularly hard and subject your car to a little more stress.
To help you stay on top of your car, we've listed a couple of things you should be looking at - and we've broken it down into daily checks, weekly checks, and monthly checks. Let's begin.
It's not something people get in the habit of doing, but just doing a visual inspection of your tyres before you get in can save you a lot of trouble. The problem is that tyre wear can creep up on you and you may go from having some tread to no tread at all - just taking a quick look at all four of your tyres before you get in can be done in under a minute.
If you have the habit of running your fuel tank down to empty, it's time to kick it. From a financial standpoint it makes no sense because you're always going to have to eventually put fuel in the tank - whether that's today, or tomorrow. From a maintenance standpoint, low fuel levels can wear out your fuel pump and break them prematurely.
Even if your tyres look fine visually, it's important to check that they have enough air in them. Over time your tyre pressures will be a bit more stable, but you will usually find in the first few weeks and months after filling them up they tend to lose a little bit of air.
Windshield Wiper Fluid
Ever needed to wash off some dirt on the windscreen to find that your wiper fluid was all gone? It's one of the easier things to check with a car as wiper fluid reservoirs require no unscrewing or opening besides flipping the top off. Topping it up is also the easiest and least messy to do.
Dealing with dim lightbulbs is something you don't really notice until it's too late, so it pays to check them out every week or so - especially the hard to notice ones like those at the back. Signal lights are easy to spot if they die - they tend to flash unnaturally fast when you signal, but your front and rear lights can be harder to spot.
This isn't something you commonly find to be an issue, but on older cars or cars with a lot of mileage, it may be wise to keep an eye on your oil level. You'll need a rag or some tissue paper to wipe the dipstick and measure the oil level accurately, but it will warn you if your oil is depleting and needs a top-up.
In a technical sense you should never be losing radiator fluid or coolant unless you have a very serious problem with your engine - basically coolant flows in a closed system and only exits if you have a leak. Checking on it periodically may give you a bit of a heads up as to whether you have a serious problem on your hands.
Driving day to day, hitting potholes and bumps, can cause your car's alignment to run. Thankfully, the most obvious way to tell your alignment has run is the fact that your car doesn't want to track in a straight line or aggressively pulls in one direction. Do take note that many roads are cambered for safety, so cars naturally pull to the left on highways - ideally you need a long, flat road to see which direction your car floats in.
Another one that creeps up on you is how slowly wipers degrade to the point where they're useless. Blades are consumable items like any other - and when you need them the most is when you'll find they no longer work. Scatter a bit of water on your windscreen and run the wipers to see if they can smoothly remove the water - if not, it's time for a change.
While brakes have an audible warning when your pads have reached the end of their lifespan, at times this is also when they have almost no stopping power left in them. A quick visual inspection would alert you to whether they're on the way out - although it could be a little difficult to see depending on the design of your wheels.
These are just some of the things to look at that can help you keep your car in good working order - and at least things you can do without having to break out a set of tools or risk breaking something in the process.
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