We get it. Sometimes, you’re running late to work, and you know that your brakes have been making a strange sound but you just can’t afford to miss that important meeting. Sometimes, your kids are dragging their feet and you find yourself in a rush to get them to school on time, and even though your windshield wiper fluid is out, it’s not supposed to rain today, so you drive anyway.
Keeping up with car maintenance can seem like an endless job, and can take a back seat when stacked up against everything else you have to do.
We at VIP European Auto are here to tell you exactly why it shouldn’t! Missing a morning meeting to get your brakes checked could be a life-saving decision.
Keep reading to discover the essential things you can do yourself to keep up your car, when you should bring your car in for a check-up, and how doing all this can save your life!
Car Maintenance You Need To Do To Drive Safely
While there are many aspects of car maintenance that only a trained mechanic should perform on your vehicle, there are several things you can do to ensure the health of your car in-between visits.
Monthly Tire Checks
Trust us on this one. The importance of checking your tires cannot be overstated. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, tire blowouts cause 78,000 accidents every year, which has resulted in 10,000 serious injuries and over 400 deaths.
To give yourself the best chance at avoiding a disastrous tire blowout, be sure to check your tire pressure each month. Your tire pressure should not be checked immediately after a long drive; instead check your tires when they have been driven under one mile. The appropriate tire pressure for your vehicle can be found in your owner’s manual.
Get Your Oil Changed On Time
Oil is what keeps your vehicle running. Without it, your car’s engine parts scrape against one another, which creates harmful friction, and can permanently damage your engine.
Forgoing oil changes is dangerous; new oil keeps your engine clean. Detergents and other additives move dirt into the fuel filter, clogging it. When this occurs, the dirt is forced to circulate through your engine, causing it to work harder, and consume more gas. Tired of filling up your tank so often? Check your oil!
In the most extreme cases of forgotten or neglected oil changes, your car can be irreversibly out-of-commission. When motor oil transforms into sludge, it no longer keeps your engine from overheating. And when your engine overheats, it has a greater chance of warping your engine’s parts, seizing up, or blowing a gasket. Blowing a gasket can be an alarmingly expensive fix, and is oftentimes not worth it. A seized engine is useless and needs replacing, another costly solution. Long story short— change your oil!
Be sure to also check your air filter when changing your oil. The air filter helps protect your vehicle’s life by trapping dirt and debris that can damage your engine.
Be Mindful Of Your Brakes
Your brakes are an invaluable tool that you cannot afford to ignore. If you hear or feel anything out of the ordinary, take them to be checked out by a professional mechanic. Here’s some indicators to watch out for:
If you hear a shrill squealing sound, or a harsh grinding noise from your brakes, these are bad signs. A sharp squeal often indicates that your brake pads need to be replaced. If this sound turns into a grinding noise, you most likely went through your entire brake pads, meaning the metal of the calipers is scraping against the metal of the rotors, which are costly to replace. It goes without saying that this is an unnecessarily dangerous way to drive.
Your Car is Pulling to One Side
While the sensation of your car pulling can indicate a variety of issues, one possible explanation is an issue with your car’s braking system. If a caliper gets stuck, friction on one wheel can increase while the others stay the same, causing your car to pull to the side of the stuck caliper. If you notice your car pulling at all, be sure to get it into a mechanic immediately!
Your car’s rotors can warp when put under intense stress. Damaging your rotors can happen when driving down steep hills and constantly braking, by towing a heavy object behind your car, or just by driving on worn brake pads for an extended period of time. If you feel a vibration when braking, this could mean that the rotors of your vehicle are on uneven surfaces and will shake against the brake pads, causing the vibrating you feel when braking.
However, feeling a shaking sensation when you brake could be a variety of issues, so it is best to have a mechanic do a thorough check.
Your Have To Slam On Your Brakes To Stop Your Car
Newsflash: you shouldn’t have to slam on your brakes every time you come up to a stoplight. This is downright scary for you, and definitely not safe. If you are having this problem, it could mean your break line system is not functioning properly, or indicate an issue with the vacuum system. Either way, get to a mechanic immediately if braking is not mindlessly easy.
We at VIP European Auto want you to be safe! Check out our article on tips for driving at night and during bright mornings for even more helpful tips.
Replace Your Wiper Blades
While this is an easy task to blow off, it is not an unimportant one. You never know when the next rain, snow, or hail storm is going to roll in, so it is crucial that you are prepared. Check your wiper blades and wiper fluid often, especially if you see some dark clouds on the horizon.
This is especially important during the monsoon season here in Arizona. Read our article on preparing your car for the rain here.
Keep Track of Battery Replacements
On average, a car’s battery life is somewhere between 50,000-60,000 miles, or four to five years. Harsh weather conditions and age are two major factors that affect the life of your car’s battery.
Help ensure the health of your battery by keeping it clean. To prevent batteries from corroding, cover the battery terminals with baking soda and then pour a small amount of water over each one.
If you don’t remember the last time your battery was replaced, a mechanic can test your battery to see how well it holds a charge. This is a good plan if you don’t want to end up stranded in a parking lot one day.
Regular car maintenance may seem like a mundane task, but it can save your life! There are few situations as stressful as being in your car when something goes horribly wrong. Protect yourself, your family, your friends, and everyone else on the road by keeping up with your car’s needs. Click here for any interior detailing work you may need. We at VIP European Auto are here to help!
Stay safe out there on the road!