Auto Maintenance: What You Need to Have Done and When
Bringing your vehicle in for regular maintenance is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid costly mechanical problems. Knowing what needs to be done and how often each type of service needs to be performed will help you ensure your car stays healthy and save you money in the long run. This article will cover the basics of routine auto maintenance and timing.
All the fluids in your vehicle will break down over time, so it’s a good idea to have them checked regularly. Coolant/anti-freeze should be replaced every 5 years, while brake fluid should be replaced every 2 years. It’s recommended that you have your brake fluid checked every time you bring your vehicle in for an oil change.
Speaking of oil changes, it’s especially vital to check your oil levels frequently because running out of oil can lead to costly repairs. It’s best to follow your vehicle manufacturers’ maintenance schedule indicating when to change your oil and check your fluid levels.
The lifespan of your tires can vary, with some lasting an average of 5 years (or 120,000 kilometers) and others lasting only 3 years (or 60,000 kilometers). Maintaining proper air pressure will help your tires last as long as possible. If your tires are underinflated, the outside edges will wear down before the center portions. If they’re over-inflated, the centre treads will wear down faster than the outsides which will lead to you having to replace your tires ahead of schedule. Most importantly, air pressure effects fuel economy, so if you stay on top of your tire pressure, you’ll end up saving money and getting more miles out of your vehicle.
Seasonal tire changeover is another form of routine maintenance to be aware of. BC Ministry of Transportation regulations require the use of winter/snow tires on certain highways from October 1st to March 31st, so you should plan for two seasonal changeovers per year.
Winter is pothole season, which can affect your vehicle’s shocks, struts, and wheel alignment. At the end of the season, a wheel alignment can help bring everything back in line. It’s best to have your alignments done at the same time as your seasonal tire changeover to ensure even tire wear.
Generally speaking, you should have your brakes checked every time you bring your vehicle in for service. As mentioned above, you should flush your brake fluid approximately every 2 years. It’s also recommended that you have your brake fluid levels checked every time you have an oil change.
If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait to have your brakes checked. If your brakes feel spongy or you start to hear squealing sounds, it could be a sign to change your brake pads and you should get them looked at right away.
Both hot and cold weather can have a negative impact on your battery life. Be sure to check your battery if you’re headed to an area with extreme weather conditions. You don’t want to be surprised by a dead battery when you have places to go and things to do.
These are the basic elements of routine auto maintenance. For recommendations that are tailored to your specific vehicle, get in touch with one of the trusted experts at your local BCAA Auto Service Centres.