Basic Maintenance Rules to Follow for New Year
Happy New Year to all! Along with your resolutions for 2010, it’s also a great time to review the basic vehicle maintenance rules to keep you and your car happily on the road. Here are the eight most basic maintenance resolutions you should keep so your car stays in top form:
1. Oil Changes. Today’s cars need to have the oil changed every 5,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first. Clean oil means your car’s moving engine parts are properly lubricated and kept cool. This should also include changing the oil filter. Check your owner’s manual, as I highly recommend using synthetic oil.
2. Chassis Lubrication. Also on the every three-month schedule or every other oil change, the chassis components, which include the suspension and steering of your car, need to be lubricated. After all, the chassis supports the weight of your car, which means a smooth ride and ease of turning corners.
3. Tire Rotation. When you’re getting the chassis lubricated, it’s also the time to have your tires rotated. This way, each tire ideally wears at the same rate for optimum performance. Your trusted technician will advise you of the best rotation pattern, taking into account your driving situation and exposure to road hazards, especially if your car is driven in multiple geographic regions. My recommendation is to bring the rear tires to the front and the front tires to the rear, keeping them on the same side of the car.
4. Automatic Transaxle Fluid and Filter. Many car companies say that if you drive your car under “normal” conditions, you should never have to change this fluid. Again, your trusted technician can best advise you, but factors like heavy city driving, hilly/mountainous roads, salty air or if you frequently use your vehicle to tow a trailer, may mean having your transaxle fluid changed anywhere from approximately every 18,600 miles (30,000 km) to about every 31,000 miles (50,000 km).
5. Air Filter. If you think about it, the air filter helps maximize your miles per gallon by preventing fuel particles from entering your engine’s cylinders, walls, pistons and piston rings. Did you know that on average, for every gallon of fuel your car burns, it can use over 10,000 gallons of air? Remember that your car runs thanks to three elements: air, fuel and spark.
6. Belts and Hoses. Something so simple can cause significant problems for your car. Broken belts or hoses can, for example, cause an overheated engine, not to mention loss of your car’s electrical charging system or power steering. It could also cause the cooling system to stop working if a hose is leaking or if the belt that operates the water pump snaps. Most experts recommend having the belts and hoses checked at every oil change.
7. Spark Plugs. The electrodes in the spark plugs allow electricity to jump across to fire the fuel charge. Expert opinion differs, with recommendations ranging from approximately every 18,600 miles (30,000 km) to as long as approximately every 103,000 miles (166,000 km). Modern spark plugs are designed to last much longer than in years past.
8. Cooling System. You should have the cooling system drained, flushed and refilled approximately every 50,000 miles (80,400 km) or 48 months, whichever comes first. Make sure the correct cooling system fluid, which comes in various colors, is refilled according to your owner’s manual.
Keep in mind these are just the very basics. Most important, find a technician you can trust and who will best guide you on how and when to take care of your car so it performs at its best. In my next column, I’ll discuss the importance of your vehicle’s filters.
Johnny Nocera has been on the radio airwaves in Southwest Florida with “Dr. Johnny’s Car Clinic” on FOX News radio 92.5 FM, WINK 1240/1270 AM every Saturday morning from 9-10 for over 25 years. He also owns, along with his sons Jr. and Jimmy, Supreme Auto and Collision located in downtown Naples, and has been in business for more than 35 years and your Local Vespa Scooter dealer.