Start the Year Off Right! With Our Top Vehicle Maintenance Tips

Posted Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

 

Taking your car to the mechanic is no joke. Repairs are costly and you could be stuck at the shop for hours or worse, be without transportation, or driving a rental car. These are just a couple of reasons why it's so important to keep up on your Vehicle Maintenance.

At City Wide Motors, we care about you and want you to get the most out of any vehicle you purchase through us. By purchasing a used vehicle, you want to make sure it gets the TLC it needs to keep you on the road.

Check out some of our top vehicle maintenance tips to help keep your used car running like new.

 

Under the Hood

Oil Changes

Oil is essential to the health of your engine. Over time, dust and grime can get in the oil and cause it to not function properly. Professionals advise checking your oil at least once a month and changing it about every few thousand miles. Changing the oil in your car is the best way to keep the engine healthy. You can take your car into a shop and get this done, or you can do this yourself! However, if you decide to take on the task, it’s important to know what your car needs from an oil change.

First, read your owner’s manual. Every vehicle is different. Your car’s engine may only require an oil change every 7,000 miles instead of the industry standard of 5,000. But there are many other factors to consider:

  • Vehicle age

  • Synthetic vs. Non-synthetic oil

  • Type of oil

  • Oil filer size

  • Time of year

 

Other Fluid to Check

Aside from the oil, it’s a good idea to check up on other types of fluids regularly to ensure your automobile is operating at top performance. If you don’t have the knowledge to check the fluid levels and quality yourself, take your vehicle into a trusted shop for a maintenance check. Technicians will evaluate and let you know if you need:

  • Brake fluid

  • Power steering fluid

  • Transmission fluid

  • Engine oil

  • Coolant

  • Antifreeze

  • Wiper fluid

 

Car Battery

Your auto’s battery is the heart of your motor. If it dies, nothing works. A bad battery can be the result of driving habits, the weather, and age. A typical battery can last 4-6 years, but like anything it needs maintenance checks including testing and cleaning.

Some signs your battery might be on its last leg include:

  • Corrosion

  • Check engine lights are on

  • Electrical problems

  • Slow engine crank

 

Other Parts to Check

The following are better checked by a professional and don’t need to be serviced nearly as often.

  • Shocks and struts

  • Spark plugs

  • Belts and hoses – instruments that send fluids and signals to different parts of the engine

  • Front and rear differentials – devices that split the power between tires

The great thing about leasing a vehicle through City Wide Motors is our fantastic warranty. We offer a unique benefit with our vehicles that includes a free 12-month, 12,000 mile powertrain engine and transmission warranty.

This warranty covers all internally lubricated parts:

  • Engine block

  • Heads

  • intake/exhaust manifolds

  • Gear cases and housings

You will also get free oil changes for the life of the lease!

 

Exterior

Believe it or not, the exterior of your car can impact your vehicle’s performance as well.

Brake Pads

If you feel some shuddering and vibrating when you are driving, this can be the result of bad brake pads. A potentially life-threatening concern when not treated immediately.  Watch for signs:

  • Squeaking and grinding

  • Slow response from the time you push the brake to the actual stop

  • Brake pedal feels squishy

  • Burning smell when driving

  • Swerving when stopping

  • Brake light is on

  • Bouncing when stopping

 

Tires

Another crucial part of your transportation success is tires! Keeping the rubber on the road in top condition is vital to the safety and overall operation of your vehicle. With tires, there are many factors to consider.

 

Purchasing

Getting the right tires for your car depends on the size and type of automobile, the type of driving you do (mountainous, in town, gravel, etc.), the season you drive in (winter means snow tires!), average driving speed (highway vs. city), and price.

Some personal preferences can also factor in such as brand name and current trends. There are many types and styles of tires out there and you will hear good and bad about all of them. Tire size can be another personal preference. Getting tires bigger or smaller than you need may be fashionably desirable but getting something outside the recommendation state in the owner’s manual can cause havoc and affect driving performance.

 

Maintaining

After choosing the best tires for your automobile, you need to make sure you keep up on the maintenance. According to Car & Driver, tires should be rotated every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. By doing this, you will even out the wear and tear on your tires thus expanding the life of the tires.

Again, this is a job you can do yourself or you can take it into a tire shop for service.  If you do it yourself, be sure to know what you’re doing and how to perform a proper rotation. Even one bad tire can cause severe accidents and problems with your car.

 

If you are concerned about your tire’s health, keep a look out for the following:

  • There’s no tread on the tires. Like tennis shoes and hiking boots, if they don’t have tread they don’t have grip. Test your tread with a penny, with Lincoln’s head facing down, place it in the tire tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head above the tread, your tread and you need new tires.

  • Sidewalls are cracked. This can happen over time due to wear and tear, natural aging, and weather. If you vehicle is not aligned properly, this can also cause problems to the sidewalls.

  • Your vehicle is shaky. If your vehicle shakes abnormally (such as on smooth roads), it could be a sign of bad alignment, balance, or interior of the tire.

  • Your tread warranty has expired. Most tires come with a guarantee they will last a certain number of miles or years. If that date has passed it’s strongly advised to buy new tires or – at minimum – get them checked out.

  • You’re driving with a spare. A spare tire is a quick fix, it’s like a band aid, not meant to last forever. They are not as durable as regular tires, have less traction and don’t corner as well as a new tire.

  • Your travel frequently in snow. Snowy areas are not meant for regular tires. You can drive in the snow with regular tires, but it will wear them down quicker. If you drive regularly in the snow, it’s better to invest in snow tires.

  • Uneven wear on your tires. Bad alignment and tire pressure are the culprits of uneven wear. It’s important to regularly check your tire pressure since this can also reveal if you have a hole or slow leak.

  • Tire pressure is high or low. If the recommended PSI (the numbers found on the side of the tire and could be in your owner’s manual) is higher or lower than what the tire is inflated at, it could be a sign that something is wrong with the tire and needs checked out. If the tire is underinflated, it can lead to hot rubber and tread separation which causes lower miles per gallon and can impact control of the vehicle and cause flats.

  • Your steering feels weird. Driving on a straight road but you feel the car is pulling to the right or left is a sign of bad wheel alignment. So is noisy steering.

Even one bad tire can cause a multitude of problems and can lead to accidents. Be sure to keep your spare in shape too!

Windshield Maintenance

Topping off your windshield wiper fluid is one thing but getting a good kind of wiper fluid that can help resist rock chips and assist with defrost may be something to peruse. Whatever brand or type of fluid you use, make sure you are topping those fluids off when you change your oil.

About once a year you’ll also want to get new windshield wipers. Refer to your owner’s manual for the size you need. Look at your existing wipers and see what kinds of clasps they have so you can get a matching style.

Make sure you get the right sizes for each wiper – some windshields have two different sizes and if there is a back wiper you will likely run into a third size.

 

Cleaning

Keeping your automobile’s interior and exterior clean can help prevent cosmetic damages as well as the outside elements seeping into the engine and other necessary components of your vehicle.

Paint can chip if you leave dust, dirt, and other grime on it.

Tires that pick up small objects on the road may not have penetrated the tire fully if you clean things out sooner.

Cleaning out rocks and other debris can help prevent corrosion, holes, build up and lowers the risk of fluids being overrun by the elements.

 

Other Considerations

While checking on the fluids and keeping your vehicle clean, you should also check the health of the following:

  • Are all the filters clean? Clean the vents and dig into the dash to see if mice made a mess of anything. Not only do mice present a health concern, but they may be a sign that your hoses or electrical wires may need checked out.

  • Is your heating and air conditioning working? Check all areas of the car to make sure the air flow is good for you and your passengers.

  • Are your seats clean? Leaving grime embedded into the grooves of your seats can cause cracks in leather or loose stitches in fabrics.

  • Are any hinges broken? Fixing jockey boxes, cubbies, visors, consoles, handles, etc., can make your vehicle much more pleasant to drive and you are much more likely to take care of it.

  • Is your electrical working properly? Check your dashboard computer system for any lights, make sure your radio is in working order, garage door openers work, windows work as expected, rearview mirrors are in place, defrost works for windshields, auto seating is correct, and anything else that works automatically.

  • Waxed lately? Keeping your car waxed after washing it will help protect the paint and reduce the chance of rust caused by other elements.

Now keep in mind, many of these things do not need to be done every month or even every 3 months and even once a year! So how are you going to keep all this straight? Well, aside from the hundreds of advice and worksheets available from random Google searches, Nationwide has developed a great comprehensive checklist including approximate mileage and timing for each!

It’s a good idea to check everything out that you can and as often as you can. You will feel like you’re driving a new car each time you are assured your car is healthy and running smoothly. Regular maintenance can save you big costs in the long run. Plus       , if you must take your vehicle in for one thing, you might as well take it in for everything and save yourself another long visit to the mechanic. Another bonus? Keeping your car in top shape means you can resell it later for top price.