Preventative Maintenance

Routine maintenance is vital to ensure the longevity of your car. Skipping on maintenance may save you money in the short term, but your vehicle will be prone to more serious problems in the future, costing you greatly. Many vehicle owners fail to have regular maintenance performed simply due to lack of awareness of the requirements of their vehicle. Here at Auto Solve, we strive to keep owners in Collingwood well informed of their vehicle’s needs.

There are a number of tasks that are vital to be performed on an ongoing basis, and neglecting these can result in serious consequences. Fortunately, they are simple to perform for any driver to carry out, although many prefer having a professional handle this for them. These tasks include:

  • Always consult your owner’s manual, but a good rule of thumb is to have the oil filter changed regularly – every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.
  • Have all fluids checked, including brake, power steering, transmission/transaxle, windshield washer solvent and antifreeze. These fluids play a large role in the safety and performance of the vehicle.
  • Check tire inflation. Under-inflated tires can result in a loss of fuel efficiency. This is the least expensive form of preventive and safety maintenance. Tires should be checked once a month.
  • Keep your engine tuned. A fouled spark plug or plugged/restricted fuel injector can reduce fuel efficiency by as much as 30 percent.
  • Have the chassis lubricated frequently. This step extends the life of the moving components of the vehicle’s suspension system.
  • Check battery cables and posts for corrosion and clean them as needed. The battery fluid also should be checked and filled if it is low, unless it is a maintenance-free battery.
  • Have the lighting system checked frequently, including headlights, turn signals, and brake and taillights.
  • Check windshield washer blades for cracks, tears and windshield contact. Replace them at least once a year, or sooner if streaking begins.
  • Inspect engine belts regularly. Worn belts will affect the engine performance. Look for cracks and missing sections or segments.
  • Have the air filtration system checked frequently. The air filter should be checked every other oil change for clogging or damage. This system ensures that the vehicle is performing at its peak condition.

 

Getting Your Vehicle Ready for Winter

Mechanical failure—an inconvenience anytime it occurs–can be deadly in the winter. Preventive maintenance is a must. Besides, a well-maintained vehicle is more enjoyable to drive, lasts longer, and could command a higher resale price.

Some of the following tips can be performed by any do-it-yourselfer; others require the skilled hands of a professional auto technician.

  • Engine Performance – Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good repair shop. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. Replace dirty filters-air, fuel, etc.
  • Fuel – Put a bottle of fuel de-icer in your tank once a month to help keep moisture from freezing in the fuel line. Note that a full gas tank helps keep moisture from forming.
  • Oil – Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual—more often (every 3,000 miles) if your driving is mostly stop-and-go or consists of frequent short trips.
  • Cooling Systems – The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Windshield Wipers – Replace old blades. If your climate is harsh, purchase rubber-clad (winter) blades to fight ice build-up. Stock up on windshield washer solvent-you’ll be surprised how much you use. Carry an ice-scraper.
  • Heater/Defroster – The heater and defroster must be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. Newer models have a cabin air filter that should be replaced periodically. Check your owner’s manual for the location and replacement interval.
  • Battery – The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Lights – Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean road grime from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Exhaust System – Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floor boards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly.
  • Tires – Worn tires will be of little use in winter weather. Examine tires for remaining tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. Check tire pressures once a month. Check the tires when they are cold, before driving for any distance. Rotate as recommended. Don’t forget your spare, and be sure the jack is in good condition.
  • Carry emergency gear: gloves, boots, blankets, flares, a small shovel, sand or kitty litter, tire chains, and a flash light. Put a few “high-energy” snacks in your glove box.
  • Rust proofing  – Having your vehicle undercoated yearly will help to prevent the corrosive effects of road salt from dissolving your vehicle’s frame and underbody, as well as protecting hidden nooks and crannies from rust and corrosion.

Getting Your Vehicle Ready For Summer

Summer’s heat, dust, and stop-and-go traffic, will take their toll on your vehicle. Add the effects of last winter, and you could be poised for a breakdown. You can lessen the odds of mechanical failure through periodic maintenance. . . Your vehicle should last longer and command a higher resale price, too!

Some of the following tips are easy to do; others require a skilled auto technician.

  • Air Conditioning – A marginally operating system will fail in hot weather. Have the system examined by a qualified technician. Newer models have cabin air filters that clean the air entering the heating and air conditioning system. Check your owner’s manual for location and replacement interval.
  • Cooling System – The greatest cause of summer breakdowns is overheating. The cooling system should be completely flushed and refilled about every 24 months. The level, condition, and concentration of the coolant should be checked periodically. (A 50/50 mix of anti-freeze and water is usually recommended.) DIYers, never remove the radiator cap until the engine has thoroughly cooled! The tightness and condition of drive belts, clamps, and hoses should be checked by a pro.
  • Oil – Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual-more often (every 3,000 miles) if you make frequent short jaunts, extended trips with lots of luggage, or tow a trailer.
  • Engine Performance – Replace other filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc.) as recommended-more often in dusty conditions. Get engine drivability problems (hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc.) corrected at a good shop.
  • Windshield Wipers – A dirty windshield causes eye fatigue and can pose a safety hazard. Replace worn blades and get plenty of windshield washer solvent.
  • Lights – Inspect all lights and bulbs; replace burned out bulbs; periodically clean dirt and insects from all lenses. To prevent scratching, never use a dry rag.
  • Tires – Have your tires rotated about every 5,000 miles. Check tire pressures once a month; check them while they’re cold before driving for any distance. Don’t forget to check your spare as well and be sure the jack is in good condition. Examine tires for tread life, uneven wearing, and cupping; check the sidewalls for cuts and nicks. An alignment is warranted if there’s uneven tread wear or if your vehicle pulls to one side.
  • Brakes – Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your manual, or sooner if you notice pulsations, grabbing, noises, or longer stopping distance. Minor brake problems should be corrected promptly.
  • Battery – Batteries can fail any time of year. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Routine care: Scrape away corrosion from posts and cable connections; clean all surfaces; re-tighten all connections. If battery caps are removable, check the fluid level monthly. Avoid contact with corrosive deposits and battery acid. Wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
  • Emergencies – Carry some basic tools-ask a technician for suggestions. Also include a first aid kit, flares, and a flashlight.