Because of modern technology, today’s cars are the better than ever, however that doesn’t mean they are completely trouble-free or that you can skip routine auto maintenance. So, what’s changed? Do the things that we’ve been told to do in the past like oil changes, brake jobs, and tire safety still apply?
The easiest way to determine what to do is to check your owner’s manual. Yes, one of most boring and unread pieces of literature actually does contain a lot of helpful information. The challenge is reading it and staying awake long enough to find it. To help ease this burden, we’ve listed seven of the most relevant things to note.
What’s Under the Hood
If your vehicle begins to have a rough idle or if you notice that your gas mileage is going down, it’s a good idea to have the car looked at. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on your mileage, especially if your vehicle has 50,000 miles or more because it will soon be time to have the timing belt replaced.
Your car’s computer or ECU controls everything under the hood now. A while back, fuel injection eliminated pesky carburetors and, now, the ECU oversees critical engine functions like timing, fuel delivery and emissions monitoring. Spark plugs, thanks to high-tech materials like platinum, have longer lifespans, sometimes up to 100,000 miles. All this makes traditional tune-ups like car stereos with eight-track players, a thing of the past.
Check Engine Light On
Speaking of gas, is your check engine light on? If so, did you fully-tighten your gas cap after your last fuel stop? Your car’s ECU monitors vehicle emissions and a this is one of the most common check engine light triggers.
Windshield Washer Fluid
Here’s one that a lot of people forget, keeping their windshield washer fluid reservoir filled. This is easy to forget but also easy to handle. The windshield reservoir is located in your engine compartment and usually covered with a blue cap. While you’re at it, be sure to inspect your wiper blades and replace them if they look weathered, chatter or leave streaks when you use them.
Changing your oil isn’t just about finding who handles an oil change near you. That’s because how often you should change your oil extends to several factors like stop and go driving, towing, or whether you choose conventional oil or synthetic oil. Some auto manufacturers recommend 3,000-mile change intervals and some recommend longer ones.
What about choosing between regular oil and synthetic oil? Your vehicle is an investment and it makes sense to use the best products to maintain it. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. If you’re not sure which oil change schedule to to follow or what type of oil to use, start with the owners’ manual, then ask a mechanic you can trust for advice.
While your having your oil changed, also check your air filter because a clogged air filter will hurt fuel mileage. If you’re driving in dusty conditions, you should change the air filter more often than the recommended schedule.
Buy the Right Gas
There’s a lot of misinformation about engine octane. The easiest thing to do is fill up with the octane rating recommended by your auto manufacturer. While it’s true that performance cars require high octane gas, for most of us, this doesn’t apply because the car’s ECU is programmed for a specific octane rating and changing it won’t necessarily give us more horsepower or mileage.
Having said that, some engines actually can benefit from using different octane ratings. For instance, running this type of car on higher octane could give the car a little more zip, while a lower octane could reduce some power to help increase mileage. Your owners manual will tell you if your vehicle has this ability.
Typically, front brake pads last between 20,000 to 30,000 miles and rear brakes usually 60,000 miles. However, this varies depending on your driving habits and road conditions. Your car’s brakes are nothing to play with. If you notice anything different about your brakes like a mushy pedal, brake squeal or pulsing you should visit a mechanic. For obvious reasons, do not put this off.
Proper Tire Inflation and Safety
Are your tires properly inflated? Do you know what your tire pressure is supposed to be? Underinflated tires increases rolling resistance, makes your engine work harder, and costs you money. Overinflated tires also costs you money because this causes them to wear out faster and makes your vehicle ride harshly. The best thing to do is check your tire pressure each month and before going on a road trip.
The safety and service life of your tires isn’t determined simply by how much tread they have. Their service life also depends on things like the type of tires they are, how you drive, how you inflate them, and how long you’ve had the tires on the vehicle. On top of that, ozone, heat and the environment their toll too by breaking down the tire’s rubber compound. For these reasons, you should consider having your tires replaced after five years, even if there is a safe level of tread remaining. Tire manufacturers stamp coded dates on the sidewall for this purpose and your tire dealer can decode the date for you to determine how old the tires are.
Miles of Smiles
We enjoy driving and a properly maintained car keeps the party rolling by extending the life of your vehicle and by helping it retain its value.
We’re here to help. First Tire & Automotive has been serving the Fort Bend County area since 1988. We now have three convenient locations to serve you better, call us or stop by today.