By Jimmy Jones, USDR Contributor
With Old Man Winter getting his proverbial trousers on, I feel its time for a bit of a reminder in vehicular maintenance. As drivers we often forget that if we‘d just take a bit of extra time on our cars they’d reward us with long life cycles. Of course a big part of the problem is the fact we trade vehicles so often these days, but that’s another article. This habit has caused us to become a bit relaxed on maintenance. So, let’s talk preventative maintenance.
Side note: sometimes you can do as much preventative maintenance as you will, and your vehicle will still have an issue. I am not a mechanic or your vehicle’s manufacturer; you should always follow the maintenance schedules in your vehicle’s specific owner’s manual.
Tires. Check the pressure. The specific tire pressure for you vehicle is located on the driver door of most cars; if not, check your owner’s manual. It’s a great idea to try to keep your tires at this level, not only for tire wear and life expectancy, but also for the safety of yourself and your passengers. The manufactures of both the car and the tires have gone through great lengths to ensure this tire pressure and size is optimum for your vehicle. Trust this number.
Wiper Blades. This time of year is not a bad time to go ahead and replace the old worn out blades with some that are new. You really don’t want to be driving in a snow storm and have that moment where you wish you would have changed them. You want to see. Wipers make sure you do.
Anti-freeze. If you do your own maintenance and don’t have a maintenance program on your vehicle you should top off your radiator with the proper color/type of anti-freeze (check owner’s manual). This is a vital part of keeping your car properly cooled so that the engine doesn’t over-heat and leave you stranded in a snow storm. Hopefully you’ll have new wiper blades just in case you do get stranded. That will aid in seeing if help is coming.
Brakes. If they squeak, have them checked. If you aren’t inclined in a mechanical sense, just save up and take it to a brake shop or your car dealer and have them checked and replaced properly. Good brakes, an integral part of you not running into someone, or something, are worth every penny spent. Do not skimp on safety of your life or others.
Oil. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine keeping it at a safe level is imperative. It is also important to follow your owner’s manual on oil change intervals, levels, grade and weight. After you get home today turn your vehicle off on a level drive, let it sit for a few minutes, then (if you have an oil dipstick) pull the dipstick out, wipe oil off, re-insert the dipstick and pull it out again. If your oil level is reading near the full or in between the full and low you should be good. If you see the level close to the low or below, follow your owner’s manual for guidance or take it to your nearest trusted oil change expert and let that person fix it up for you.
Owning a car can be fun and at times owning a car reminds me much of my 19 week old puppy, Goose. He is a brilliant dog, athletic as can be, never lets me down, and always loves me even on my bad days. But man is he a lot of work. It’s the same with a car really. They start, go, and stop every time we ask them to without much complaint. We can even leave them outside, or in a covered garage for when we want to take them out again. Take these small steps prior to winter’s full awakening and your car will get you to where you need to go and love doing it for you.
Safe travels, friends.