National Car Care Month is the perfect time to give your car a little TLC. A vehicle inspection can help keep your car safe and dependable, and help you save money down the road. To ensure your vehicle is running at peak performance, follow the below 10 basic maintenance tips recommended by the Car Care Council.
1. Check all fluids including engine oil, power steering, brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant. For information on the seven essential car fluids and how to check them, read this article from Autos.com.
2. Check the hoses and belts to ensure they are not cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or showing signs of excessive wear. Check out ConsumerReports.org’s comprehensive guide to learn how you can check your vehicle’s hoses and belts properly
3. Check the battery and replace if necessary. Make sure the battery is clean, tight and corrosion-free. To learn how to remove gunk and acid residue from the battery, check out this article from About.com Auto Repair.
4. Check the brake system annually and have the brake linings, rotors and drums inspected at each oil change. To know when you should get your brakes checked, read this HowStuffWorks article.
5. Inspect the exhaust system for leaks, damage and broken supports or hangers if there is an unusual noise. If there is, exhaust leaks can be dangerous and must be corrected in the shop without delay. Check out eHow’s how-to guide on checking exhaust systems.
6. Schedule a tune-up to help the engine deliver the best balance of power and fuel economy and produce the lowest level of emissions. For a list of places that are certified by the National Institution for Automotive Service Excellence, click here.
7. Check the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system, as proper heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons such as defrosting. Make sure you pick up a can of WD-40® Multi-Use Product at AutoZone to remove gunk from your vehicle’s vents.
8. Inspect the steering and suspension system annually including shock absorbers, struts and chassis parts such as ball joints, tie rod ends and other related components. Learn how to inspect the steering and suspension system in this article from Auto MD.
9. Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread with a pressure gauge. O’Reilly Auto Parts has a great selection of tire pressure gauges available. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
10. Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and replace worn wiper blades (available at NAPA Auto Parts) so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation. Before you start changing the wipers, don’t forget to read Cars.com’s step-by-step guide on how to replace them.
Do you have any vehicle maintenance tips you didn’t see included? Tell us what they are in a comment below.
TIP: Use WD-40 Specialist® Machine & Engine Degreaser to quickly remove grease, oil, dirt and grime from your vehicle’s engine.
(This was originally posted in March of 2014.)