Once you have your new-to-you car, truck, or SUV, you may want to extend the life of the vehicle and ensure it works for you for years to come. With a little bit of preventative care, you can keep your vehicle working long term and save money on repairs. You can also enhance performance and keep your vehicle in quality condition, which is important if you plan on trading it in the future. Be sure to consult your maintenance manual for specifics on your vehicle. Read on for our ultimate service guide for your used car or truck. 

Check Your Tires Monthly

A major monthly priority that can keep you safe on the roads and ensure high performance from your vehicle is to routinely check your tires. For a fuel-efficient ride, you can also visually inspect your tires often. Look for damage to the tread, cracks in the walls, or low tire pressure.

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Image via Flickr by Touchdown_Jesus

Low Tire Pressure

Because tire pressure can fluctuate depending on outside temperature, check your tire pressure monthly using a tire gauge. You can also check it before long trips and when the weather outside changes suddenly. The recommended PSI is listed in your manual and on the inside of the driver's door in most vehicles. In colder months in particular, and when roads are extra slick, tire pressure can drop one pound with every ten degree decrease.

Check for Tread Wear

To check for tread wear, use a simple penny method for some quick assurance. If you find yourself skidding often or stopping too late, get a tire inspection as soon as possible. Remember to check your spare tire during this time to ensure you're prepared and have a working backup in case of an emergency or unexpected flat tire.

Change Your Oil and Filter Regularly

The motor oil that runs through your vehicle's engine serves many purposes. It lubricates moving parts, acts as a sealant to protect from debris, cools the engine, reduces wear and tear, and prevents engine corrosion. Clean oil running is a vital component of a healthy car, truck, or SUV. How frequently you need to change your oil and filter depends on a number of factors, including the type of oil your vehicle requires, how often you drive and how far, the climate in your area, and the age of your automobile.

How Often Should I Get My Oil Change?

Many vehicles require an oil and filter change as often as every three months or 3,000 miles, whatever comes first. Newer vehicles may require less frequent changes, somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 miles. To be sure, consult your vehicle's maintenance guide and consult with a professional to ensure your engine's health. 

Examine Belts and Hoses

Belts and hoses within vehicles serve a variety of purposes. The serpentine belt seems like a random rubber hose, but it's an essential component of your vehicle. It powers peripheral devices such as the alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioner compressor. A visual inspection of the belt to ensure it's still pliable and free of cracks and fissures will tell you if it's time for a replacement. A visually torn belt should be replaced immediately, according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Check the Brakes

To make sure your vehicle is in proper working condition and is safe to drive, it's helpful to inspect the break system at least once a year. Check the brake fluidbrake liningsrotors, and brake pads to help ensure each component is in working order. 

Many vehicles have a warning light that lights up on the dashboard to alert drivers that a brake check is needed. However, lighting malfunctions and loose fuses may impede that safety net. If that's the case, you can listen to your brakes for any squealing or other noises. Squeaks and slipping when you depress the brake pedal may be signs of a malfunction. The type of brake maintenance your vehicle needs will depend greatly on your individual driving style.

Replace Wiper Blades

Wipers blades are an often forgotten portion of vehicle maintenance until you need them. Driving with worn wiper blades is a safety hazard because it reduces visibility in the rain and in inclement weather. Windshield wipers need to be replaced yearly or whenever their performance is compromised.

Winter Wiper Blades

In winter months, consider installing winter wipers for optimal performance. Inspect the blades seasonally and replace them if they are damaged, have visible tears and cracks, or no longer wipe the shield clean. As an added measure of caution, you can pull wipers away from the shield in winter months to prevent ice and snow buildup. 

Check the Headlights, Turn Signals, and Parking Lights

Properly functioning lights in your vehicle are an important safety component, but they can be easily overlooked. Routinely checking the fuses and lights will improve visibility when you're on the road and can prevent you from needing to spend money on tickets from being pulled over for a faulty light. Once a month, turn on your headlights when you're parked in front of a flat surface and visually verify that both of them are working properly and positioned appropriately.

Walk around your vehicle and check the turn signals and your parking lights. They should beam brightly in daylight and in the dark. Have a friend or family member stand behind the vehicle as you engage the brakes to check the notice lights are functioning as well.

Rotate Your Tires

A regular tire rotation can help extend the life of your tires by helping the tread wear evenly. Rotating tires can also improve the quality of your ride by decreasing noise and vibration problems. Depending on your wheel alignment, usage, road condition, and driving habits, the tread wear may vary between the front and back tires or left to right. Consult your owner's manual for manufacturer recommendations on tire rotations, wheel size, and tires to have on your vehicle.

 

Categories: Service