May 30, 2009
In an ideal world, cars need no maintenance. But even newfangled, futuristic cars are bound to corrode, wear and tear just like any earthly commodity.
For them to last longer, owners need to follow the car maintenance schedule as stipulated in the auto makerâ€™s manual. Every passenger car, SUV, mini-van, pickup, and what-have-you comes with these manuals. Car owners have to follow the schedules therein as they would a doctorâ€™s prescription, simply because the manufacturer knows best.
Least of all, car maintenance schedules recommend that owners change the vehicleâ€™s oil every three months. Otherwise, one may change the oil once the car has been driven for 3,000 miles. The right oil weight and grade is important in that case.
Monthly, owners must see to it that their carsâ€™ lights function properly, especially the check engine light. Owners must also check windshield washer fluid levels monthly.
It is just as imperative to check tires in the same intervals. Tires, including the spare, should be properly inflated and pressurized at all times, lest the driver risks an accident. They must not have abrasions on their sidewalls.
Some car maintenance schedules suggest tire rotations for as long as three months, or every time the car has driven 3,000 miles. Rotation means changing the tiresâ€™ locations, so that each would be subjected to the same road conditions, evening out their wear and tear.
At the same time, owners must lubricate the chassis. More than just for aesthetics, lubing the chassis lets the vehicle negotiate twists and turns easily. Newer car models are already lubricated for a lifetime though.
Every three months too, owners must ensure that the battery is mounted firmly. Ideally, batteries should be chucked if it has aged three years.
Vehicle owners must also regularly scrutinize the exhaust for damage and leaks. Similarly, owners must inspect for leaks among the hoses, since the carâ€™s cooling system depends on it.
Belts also need maintenance every three months. Broken timing belts can outright ruin an engine. One must also take care of the so-called serpentine belts and fan belts.
Air filters, which obstruct dust and other particles, need maintenance around the same time. For cars driven constantly on dirt roads, intervals between air filter maintenances can be shorter.
Once a year, or each time the car has driven 12,000 miles, it is necessary to inspect the carâ€™s whole brake system, from the drum to the lining. As a rule of thumb, screeching brakes tip off faulty rotors.
Another car part worthy of yearly maintenance is the cooling system. Owners must know well to drain and refill the system, including the condenser, radiator, neck, and pressure cap.
Annually too, owners have to maintain the steering and suspension system. Cars that tend to bounce excessively usually indicate damaged suspension.
According to most car maintenance schedules, maintaining the spark plugs is also recommended every year. The same goes for wiper blades, power steering fluids, automatic transmission fluids, fuel filters, etc.
Characteristically, car shops may make their own prerogative regarding a carâ€™s maintenance schedule. Still, the manufacturer has the final say on the schedule.