Whether or not you pump your own gas, your
car probably receives less attention than it should. Regular maintenance
checks and simple service can greatly reduce the cost of car ownership.
- For maximum fuel efficiency and
cleaner air, keep your engine in tune.
- For safe driving, keep brakes,
steering and suspension systems in A-1 condition.
Most of the checks and services described
here can be done at little or no cost. Best of all, they are quick and
easy to do and they can save time, money and inconvenience now and
later. Always refer to your owner's manual when performing any
maintenance task on your vehicle.
Periodically your car should have a
thorough inspection by a qualified technician.
Under the Hood
- Check the antifreeze/coolant level
weekly. Some cars have transparent reservoirs with level markings.
Fill to level marking with 50/50 solution of anti-freeze and water. Caution:
Do not remove the pressure cap when engine is hot.
- Inspect belts and hoses monthly.
Replace worn, glazed or frayed belts. Tighten them when more than
1/2" of slack can be depressed between the pulleys. Vehicles
with spring loaded belt tensioners require no adjustment. Replace
bulging, rotten, or brittle hoses and tighten clamps. If a hose
looks bad, or feels too soft or too hard, it should be replaced.
- Check transmission fluid monthly with
engine warm and running, and parking brake on. Shift to drive, then
to park. Remove dipstick, wipe dry, insert it and remove it again.
Add the approved type fluid, if needed. Do not overfill!
- Check oil every other fill up. Remove
the dipstick, wipe it clean. Insert it fully and remove it again. If
it is low, add oil. To maintain peak performance, change oil every
3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. Replace oil filter
with every oil change.
- Check the air filter every other
month. Replace it when it's dirty or as part of a tune-up. It is
easy to reach, right under the big metal "lid" in a
carbureted engine; or in a rectangular box at the forward end of the
air duct hose assembly.
- Check brake fluid monthly. First, wipe
dirt from the brake master cylinder reservoir lid. Pry off the
retainer clip and remove the lid or unscrew plastic lid, depending
on which type your vehicle has. If you need fluid, add the approved
type and check for possible leaks throughout the system. Fill to
mark on reservoir. Caution: Do not overfill.
- Keep windshield washer fluid reservoir
full. When topping off, use some windshield washer fluid on a rag to
clean off the wiper blades. In winter months, pay attention to the
freezing point of the washer fluid.
- Use extreme caution when handling a
battery since it can produce explosive gases. Do not smoke, create a
spark or light a match near a battery and always wear protective
glasses and gloves. Have it checked with every oil change. Cables
should be attached securely and be free of corrosion. If battery has
filler holes, add only clear, odorless drinking water.
Around the Car
- Inspect windshield wiper blades
whenever you clean your windshield. Do not wait until rubber is worn
or brittle to replace them. Wiper blades should be replaced at least
once per year, and more often if smearing or chattering occurs.
- Be sure all your lights are clean and
working, including brake lights, turn signals and emergency
flashers. Keep spare bulbs and fuses in your vehicle.
- Keep tires inflated to recommended
pressure (it helps to own your own gauge). Check for cuts, bulges
and excessive tread wire. Uneven wear indicates tires are misaligned
or out of balance. Keep a record of tire rotation. Rotate at the
first 5,000 miles and every 7,500 miles thereafter.
- Look for signs of oil seepage on shock
absorbers. Test shock action by bouncing the car up and down. The
car should stop bouncing when you step back. Worn or leaking shocks
should be replaced. Always replace shock absorbers in pairs.
- Look underneath for loose or broken
exhaust clamps and supports. Check for holes in muffler or pipes.
Replace rusted or damaged parts. Have emission checked at least once
per year for compliance with local laws.