Most drivers are familiar with auto care basics like remembering to rotate your tires, change your oil and replace air filters. However, there are three common things that vehicle owners often overlook. Fortunately, these are easy to remember if you take note of them and keep them on your owner’s radar.

Your Body

Yes, keeping your body in shape is important but that’s a topic for a wellness blog. What we’re talking about is protecting your investment by maintaining your vehicle’s body and its protective paint job. Today’s modern paints have several layers that look fantastic and give the paint depth. These layers are protected by a clear top coat that provides shine and protection from environmental elements. If the paint is scratched or erodes, your car will become susceptible to rust.

Ideally, for maximum protection, we recommend waxing your car three to four times a year. Additionally, wash your car regularly to extend your wax protection and inspect the paint for chips and tires for damage. If you notice that your paint is chipped or scratched, use touch-up paint to protect the exposed metal.

Always use a wash designed for automotive use. Did you know using household detergents will strip wax protection and promote oxidation? So, always use the correct car care products to minimize the harmful effects of acid rain, bird droppings, and tree sap.

Your Black Belts

No, we’re not talking about your martial arts prowess. Look under your vehicle’s hood and you’ll see several hefty-looking, serpentine belts that wrap around various pulleys. Generally-speaking, the newer the car, the fewer the belts.

These are one inch-wide black belts with grooves or notches. In turn, the pulleys they wrap around are connected to critical engine parts like the AC compressor, water pump, and cooling fan. Inspect the belts for cracks and check them to see if they haven’t stretched. Replacing them is a smart way to avoid finding yourself driving in Texas heat without air conditioning or having your engine’s coolant boil over in the middle of traffic.

Besides your serpentine belts, there is one other critical belt — your timing belt. The timing belt or chain, depending on the manufacturer, is one of the biggest dangers to high mileage cars.

Because the timing belt controls your engine’s camshaft(s) and keeps the parts connected to it running smoothly, it must be properly calibrated to stay in sync with the motion of the pistons or bad things will happen very quickly. The engine will stop abruptly if the timing belt fails. When this happens, you’ll need to call a tow truck to come pick up your vehicle and prepare yourself for a costly auto repair bill.

You easily can avoid this nightmare if you’re proactive and replace the belt. Although some belts are designed to last up to 100,000 miles, a good rule of thumb is to have your timing belt changed every 50,000 to 75,000 miles. Check your owners manual and consult a professional mechanic but changing them early is cheaper and safer because it will keep from you from having to buy a new engine unexpectedly or a new car before you’re ready.

Your cool

Yes, we think you’re cool and chances are so is your vehicle’s engine if your radiator hoses are in good condition. Radiator hoses are sometimes difficult to spot entirely because of the way they can snake their way through the engine compartment. However, inspecting for them for potential problems isn’t that hard.

Always begin your inspection with a cool engine! First, visually check them for possible cuts or abrasions caused from rubbing against nearby sharp-edged objects like serpentine belts. Then, squeeze the radiator hoses to see how resilient and flexible they feel. Damaged, noticeably soft, or worn-looking hoses should be replaced because they will probably leak or burst if you keep driving with them.

If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining or repairing your your vehicle, always consult a mechanic you can trust, like First Tire & Automotive. Just call or stop by one of our three convenient Fort Bend County locations today. We’ll be happy to answer questions, go over estimates, and a recommended plan of action with you.