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Maintaining Your Vehicle

Automotive repairs can be a frighteningly expensive side-effect of car ownership; however, they don't have to be an inevitable one. Naturally there are some repairs that should be expected, and others that are beyond the driver's ability to control. People can, however, avoid many potential automotive problems by performing proper vehicle maintenance on their cars. When people maintain their vehicles they are routinely testing and inspecting various systems and subsystems within the vehicle to ensure that they are in good working condition. In addition to inspecting the car, vehicle maintenance also involves providing any service to ensure that the car remains in top condition. Although this may incur some cost, it is minimal in comparison to major vehicle repairs, and in some cases the drivers may be able to perform the inspection or repairs themselves. Not only does routine vehicle maintenance help save money in terms of repairs, they also extend the life of one's vehicle.

Maintenance needs differ somewhat when a person considers a new car or truck versus a used one. Naturally, a used vehicle will require a little more maintenance and attention than a new car in order to keep it in top shape. A person with a newer car won't need to worry about many maintenance issues for at least the first few thousand miles. When they do, it is typically just an issue of checking tires for signs of problems and having regularly scheduled oil changes.

Ideally, people should follow the maintenance schedule that the manufacturer of their car or truck recommends for the specific vehicle type and model. For people who want a regular schedule to follow for all of their cars and trucks, regardless of the manufacturer, there are basic maintenance time-frames or schedules that they can use. These inspections or procedure schedules are generally broken into intervals that make them easy to remember. These intervals range from weekly to monthly to yearly checks and beyond. In some instances maintenance checks may translate into the number of miles driven between checks as opposed to an actual recommendation based on weeks or months.

On a weekly, sometimes even daily, basis, drivers may want to note any non-functioning features and check fluid levels. On a daily basis, check car lights, and keep the interior clean of trash. On a weekly basis, a vehicle owner should perform a basic check that includes verifying that windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, and oil levels are correct. They will also want to check for any cracks or dings in the windshields or mirrors. Examples of monthly maintenance work include inspecting brake fluid, belts and hoses; looking for belts that have a glazed appearance or that are frayed or slack. These will need to be tightened or replaced depending on the problem. Hoses that are brittle or that have bulges will also need replacing. Transmission and power steering fluid should also be checked on a monthly basis to ensure that they are level and that there are no leaks. Tires are one of the most critical features of a car and must be checked for bulges or worn tread. Bald or worn tires can cause accidents in wet or slick driving conditions and must be replaced. The inflation of the tire should also be checked using a tire gauge at least once a month. This will improve gas mileage, performance, and life of the tires. Once every three months drivers must change both their car or truck's oil and its oil filter. Performing these maintenance steps will help to protect the vehicle's engine by keeping it cool and properly lubricated. Inspect the car's battery for signs of corrosion and ensure that cables are in good condition.

Certain maintenance steps are only needed on an annual basis; however, they should not be considered any less important than the steps that are performed on a monthly basis. The tires on the car must be rotated yearly to ensure that they wear evenly. Windshield wiper blades will need to be replaced before the winter rain and snow season begins. Inspect the car's exhaust system for leaks and replace the fuel and air filters, which will protect the fuel injection system and the engine. An annual brake inspection, during which brakes are checked for signs of wear, is an essential vehicle maintenance issue that should not be avoided.

People who ride motorcycles will also need to perform preventative maintenance to ensure that their bike not only remains in good shape, but also in excellent driving condition. They should have their chains lubricated and adjusted, as well as bolts checked and tightened, on a weekly basis. In addition, it is advisable to inspect fuses and wires, and to check tires for adequate pressure and any signs of wear in the tread or cracks. It will also be necessary to check sprockets, as well as lubricate and adjust all cables. They should check that the terminals and wires to the battery are free of corrosion and that the brake pads and rotors on the motorcycle are checked for wear. A tune-up for improved performance is recommended on an annual basis as is testing the battery and it's charging system. It is also necessary to inspect the coolant and brake fluid for signs of contamination, once a year.

Vehicles have a multitude of moving parts that can wear out due to heat or friction. Failure to perform proper maintenance on these parts can lead to untimely malfunctions and costly repairs. In some cases, such as with malfunctioning brakes or a blown tire, lack of proper maintenance can lead to accidents, injury or death. Routine maintenance, in the end, always costs less than repairs for unexpected breakdowns, and can also save lives.

Read the following links for more information on maintaining your vehicle.