Car Care And Maintenance

By Steve Bruce

Owning a car is certainly a responsibility not to be taken lightly. As long as you take care of your car with routine maintenance, however, it really is not an overwhelming task at all. As the vehicle gets older, it will require some fixes here and there, true, but regular checkups will catch these repairs while they are small, and before they balloon into a hard hit on your bank account. Replacing small parts routinely and proper inspections will keep your car running smoothly. Here are some regular checks that every car owner should make.

The many and various fluids found in cars are truly the lifeblood of the vehicle. The levels of all of these fluids need to be checked on a regular basis. Oil is arguably the most important fluid to check, because the engine will die without the correct levels of the viscous liquid. Using the dipstick, check that the level is at the indicated height and that it has not become too thin. The engine will freeze up and become ruined if the oil is too low or is not thick enough. Brake fluid levels must be maintained or the system will not work well, and coolant must also be flushed around once per year.

Gas mileage and safety will both be compromised if your car's tires are not cared for. Tire pressure should be checked with a gauge occasionally, even if the tires do not look low to the eye. Be sure the tread is adequate as well. Although your tires may carry a 60,000-mile rating, various driving habits and conditions can cause wear sooner than the stated mileage. Once the tread around the edge of the tire wall has become rounded and bald, it is time for new tires or risk becoming a driving hazard or experiencing a flat.

While performing tire maintenance, the lug nuts should also be checked for tightness. One loose lug nut will probably not cause the wheel to go screaming across four lanes of traffic, but it will contribute to tire wear. Do not forget about lights. Indicator lights, or turn signals, need to be observed as well as headlights, brake lights, and license plate illuminators. Most of the time, the car will alert you to faulty turn signals, but it never hurts to see for yourself.

Checks and preventive maintenance are rather simple and very inexpensive. Other fluids to check not previously mentioned are power steering and washer fluid. As long as routine observations are performed, suitable vehicular performance is preserved. Even if something is found that needs a repair in the hundreds of dollars, it has been discovered before it has escalated into the thousands.

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