You’re driving down the road and everything seems fine until all of a sudden, one of those warning lights on your dashboard comes on. What does it mean? What do you do? Well, after panicking for a minute, you pull out your phone and search for a “Ford service near me,” looking for someone who might know what’s wrong with your vehicle. This might not be too bad, but if this happens when you’re far from home, it could cause you a great deal of trouble. It also could have been avoided if you’d made sure to get your car routinely serviced. But what are the most important car maintenance services?
There are ten key areas of your vehicle that you should get routinely serviced: tires, brakes, oil, battery, air filter, hoses and belts, spark plugs, antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, and wiper blades. Your car is a collection of moving parts with specialized fluids to keep everything running smoothly. Failure to constantly check and service these parts and fluids can cause you big problems down the road. And today, we at Kings Ford QuickLane in Cincinnati, OH, are going to look at each of these things in detail to give you an understanding of their importance. Let’s get started!
#1 Tires and Air Pressure
Let’s start from the ground up. Your car rides on tires that are filled with air. Each manufacturer has an optimum air pressure measurement for their tires. This can usually be found on the bottom well of the driver’s door. Always make sure to have the correct pressure because driving on tires with improper pressure can reduce the efficiency of your vehicle or, worse, even lead to a blowout in some cases. Low air pressure can also be an indication of a leak.
In general, if you live in an area with seasons, as it gets warmer, your tire pressure will increase, while when the seasons get colder, tire pressure will decrease with the cold air. Have your tire pressure routinely checked with a gauge if your vehicle doesn’t have an electronic tire pressure monitor on your dashboard. Don’t wait for the tire pressure monitoring system light to come on because this may be too late to save your tire.
Also, you may notice that your tires do not wear evenly. This is why you should get your tires rotated on a routine basis, with the left rear switching with the right front and the right rear switching with the left front. Your tires will last longer, and your car will provide better overall performance.
#2 Brake Pads
There are many components to your car’s brake system, but the parts that get the most wear and tear are the pads. The brake pads will wear down over time, especially if you find yourself driving in city conditions more than on the highway since you are constantly putting pressure on the pads every time you step on the brakes. Have the thickness checked by your technician on a regular basis and, once they get worn, have them replaced.
#3 Oil Change
Few things are as critical to your car’s performance as the engine oil. Whether your engine oil is conventional or synthetic, it will break down over time from the heat of the engine’s parts. This is what they mean when they say it loses viscosity. In addition, as it lubricates, it sometimes picks up minute bits of metal from the gears meshing. These bits end up getting caught in the oil filter, but as the filter gets filled up, its ability to capture and trap these contaminants decreases. If you don’t change the oil and replace the oil filter on a regular basis, you can be doing real damage to your engine. It’s a simple and relatively inexpensive procedure that could save your serious bucks down the road.
Unless your car’s battery is holding a charge, you are going to find it impossible to start your car. Just like the battery in your television’s remote control, your car’s battery will start to lose charge after about five or so years and may need to be replaced. Also, if your battery is dead, it could be an indication of a bigger problem with your vehicle’s electrical system, since the battery recharges from the alternator when the car’s in operation.
#5 Air Filter
Did you ever replace the filter on your air conditioner after you’ve used it all summer? If you have, then you probably know how dirty and gross it can get after regular usage. The air filter on your car is no different. This picks up all the nasty stuff to keep it from getting it into your engine, where it can do real harm. The rule of thumb is to get the air filter replaced each time you get an oil change to make sure your engine is always running properly.
#6 Hoses and Belts
If you’ve ever looked under your car’s hood, you’ve seen hoses connecting various devices and belts that run certain processes. The hoses and belts on most cars these days are rated to last up to 60,000 miles, but these too can wear down quicker and cause many problems. If any hose or belt goes, you can end up doing some serious damage to your car’s powertrain. When you consider how inexpensive these parts are, you will be kicking yourself if you never bothered to check them and ended up with a very expensive repair.
#7 Spark Plugs
Another relatively inexpensive part is your vehicle’s spark plugs. These emit a spark that creates the combustion necessary to keep the pistons in your engine moving. Unfortunately, spark plugs do not last forever and can wear down or cease functioning altogether over time. Don’t get stuck on the road because you never bothered to have the spark plugs checked and, if necessary, replaced.
One of the most misleading names in automotive parts is the antifreeze. This liquid actually makes sure your car’s engine doesn’t freeze in the winter and overheat in the summer. This is why some people call it coolant. In fact, most antifreeze is a mixture of antifreeze and coolant since it has to make sure your engine runs at the proper temperature throughout the year.
In addition to checking the levels on a regular basis and having it replaced when necessary, you should always check under your car from time to time. If you see colored liquid dripping from under your engine, you could have a leak of antifreeze, oil, or even transmission fluid. When this happens, stop whatever you are doing and get your car serviced as soon as possible.
#9 Windshield Washer Fluid
Driving with a dirty windshield is not just annoying; it is potentially dangerous. If you live in an area with snowy weather, then you have probably experienced this. The salt and sand that is put down on the roadbed to prevent ice will often get airborne, coating your windshield with a thin layer of dirt, increasing glare, whether from the sun during the day or oncoming headlights at night.
If you can’t clear this off your windshield, your overall visibility will be significantly reduced, creating a hazardous driving condition. The windshield washer fluid is the easiest thing to refill on most vehicles, and it is also readily available at most gas stations, hardware stores, and convenience stores. In addition to helping keep your windshield clean, it will provide helpful lubrication to your car’s windshield wipers to reduce overall wear.
#10 Windshield Wiper Blades
Most windshield wiper blades are made of rubber and wear out over time. If you notice them streaking when you use them, then you are far past the time to replace your windshield wiper blades. Don’t wait until you get caught in the rain; replace them often.