Car Preventive Maintenance: What You Need to Know

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Your vehicle is your best companion when it comes to going anywhere you want. That is why giving it the attention it needs directly impacts your own safety and comfort. Imagine arriving late to work or school because your car’s battery drained. That’s terrible, isn’t it? Well, checking your car frequently is something you have to do in order to avoid these types of events.  Whether it’s a short or long distance drive, an old or new car, a sedan or a truck, or even having the thought of shipping your vehicle to another state, vehicle preventive maintenance should be kept up with. 

What is Preventive Maintenance? 

Preventive maintenance consists of inspecting your automobile, scheduling services, vehicle repairs, or any other kind of maintenance that prevents problems and maximizes the car’s lifespan. Some of these functions include lubrication, testing, adjustment, repair, cleaning and parts replacement. These actions should be performed regularly, in order to extend the vehicle’s life, prevent any mechanical failure, and follow transport rules and regulations. 

What are some signs my car needs maintenance?

Unexpected problems on your vehicle can occur at any time. No matter how often you do car maintenance, operational issues can suddenly happen. Be sure to look out for these warning signs:

Acceleration Performance: If your car begins showing signs of difficulty accelerating, check the engine. 

Vibration: If you experience any kind of unusual vibration, diagnose the cause of it with your mechanic. 

Difficulty Starting: A dead battery or related malfunctions may play a key role in your vehicle’s ability to start, so be sure to check that immediately.

Rare noises: This may be due to your car’s wheel presenting a balance or alignment issue. 

Benefits of Preventive Maintenance

With frequent preventive maintenance, your vehicle will gain a number of benefits that will allow for a great driving experience. Some of these benefits include: 

A higher resale value, stated by your maintenance records, will guarantee your car is in very good condition, which will allow you the ability to ask for a higher amount of money when you sell it. 

You’ll be able to maintain top vehicle performance by staying on top of your car’s regular care. 

A long vehicle lifespan is a definite perk that car owners who perform regular maintenance. You can expect a standard car to last around 12 years depending on the way you take care of it. 

Less gas usage can be beneficial to your wallet for sure! Your vehicle’s oil and tires affect the the amount of gas used on any given trip, so if they are in good condition, you can be sure that your gas usage is optimum. 

Comfortable driving is something you will be grateful for with a clean, well-maintained vehicle. The feeling of driving in a car you know is in good condition will make your passengers feel safe and will make you feel confident and worry free at the same time. No matter the distance, regular preventive maintenance will make your journey a breeze. 

Successful Preventive Maintenance Key Points

Here are the main actions you should perform on your vehicle in order to keep it in excellent condition:

Oil and oil filter change: This is a must when checking on your car’s maintenance. The oil will help the motor lubricate the engine, keep it from overheating, and allow it to run perfectly. If you forget to change it, the oil will eventually get dirty over time and damage your car’s motor. 

Tire rotation: Your tires should be removed, swapped and remounted. Tires tend to wear down over time, which makes tire rotation an important step of preventative maintenance. If you rotate them regularly, this will ensure all four tires wear down at the same rate.

Wheel balance: Balancing your vehicle’s wheels involves alignment, which is also a crucial point. This will allow weight to distribute evenly, ensuring that your tires stay in place along the road. Wheel alignment helps tires to stay parallel to each other, which affects and improves fuel efficiency and driving performance.

New windshield wipers: Windshield wipers are a key element of safe driving. Over time, the wipers will not be as effective at clearing your windshield from rain, snow, etc. This, in turn, will affect visibility, and potentially make for a dangerous situation.  For this reason, new windshield wipers should be installed over time. Be sure to stay on top of inspecting and replacing your wipers when they begin to get old. 

Battery testing: Don’t miss battery testing and checking, or you will risk being left stranded when your car no longer starts. Make sure to clean your battery terminal on a scheduled routine. Also, you can ask for battery tests at most car service businesses, and check if it's good to go. Older batteries will need to be replaced if the battery is no longer capable of holding a charge. 

Spark plugs: Spark plugs, while fairly durable, are still recommended to be changed out every 30,000 to 90,000 miles. This is fortunately a form of preventative maintenance that can be done less frequently than the rest.

How can you incorporate a positive approach to Preventive Maintenance into your vehicle?

Make A Plan: Scheduling your vehicle’s necessary preventative maintenance tasks in advance is a great way to stay on top of everything.

Trained Maintenance Personnel : Besides doing it on your own, try also investing on your vehicle’s regular maintenance with experts in the process. Having your mechanic or dealership check your vehicle once every 6 months - a year can  potentially increase your vehicle’s functionality and lifespan.

Track Efficacy: Using data to track the efficacy of your preventative maintenance, can ensure success. You can do it by yourself or with service providers. This data gives you the information you need to run through your preventative maintenance and make changes to the required frequency of upkeep on your task list, in order to best suit your vehicle's needs.

How frequently should you do vehicle Preventative Maintenance?

Well, that depends mainly on the area you’re doing maintenance. For example, for tire rotation, 6 months is a good interval of time, as well as balance and wheel alignment. New windshield wipers should be checked up regularly every 6 or 12 months. Some others like oil and filter change, depend mainly on what your vehicle manufacturer suggests to you. Time intervals may vary, based on how dirty oil gets over time.

What about $$$?

The costs of preventative maintenance are based on several factors including the person performing the maintenance, the part of the vehicle, and the kind of upkeep being applied. With the proper understanding and tools, nearly all of the maintenance discussed in this article can  be performed yourself. That being said, an expert technician,  while more expensive, can serve as both a convenient and professional option. Now, let's step closer at estimated preventive maintenance costs on main parts of a vehicle.

Tire rotation: about $20-$50 

New tires: about $50-$300 per tire

Oil and filter change: about $20-$100

Wiper blade replacement: about $7-$15

Engine air filter replacement: about $20-$75

*Costs based on estimates from automotive websites and experts

Annual Inspection

According to the FMCA, “Every commercial vehicle, including each segment of a combination vehicle, requires periodic inspection that must be performed at least once every 12 months. At a minimum, inspections must include all items enumerated in the Minimum Periodic Inspection Standards, Appendix G to Subchapter B of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations”. 

While the above quote is in reference to commercial vehicles, it is just as realistically applied towards personal vehicles, as preventative maintenance is both necessary and important for your vehicle’s performance and for your own safety. Try checking your car parts following the time intervals stated above for outstanding results. 

You’re All Set To Drive!

Yes, we know preventive maintenance can be a bit tedious if you’re not a car expert, but rest assured, it will prevent numerous future headaches brought on by car problems. As long as you do it consistently and understand your car’s needs, you’ll be able to enjoy years of great memories spent driving in one of your most prized possessions. Are you ready for your next trip?