If you have a front wheel drive car, you always want the better tires up front. In an all-wheel drive, if the tread varies, it could potentially damage the all-wheel drive in the car. It’s important to make sure that not only tire treads are in good shape, but that tires are properly inflated. If your tires are underinflated, they can get cupped. If you run your hand along the tire, you’ll feel little worn spots. It’s caused when you drive on underinflated tires. Tires should be rotated and balanced every 6,000 miles.
Fluids, including antifreeze, power steering, brake and transmission fluid are all vital to your car’s health – like blood pumping through a body. We all know how important it is to change the oil. The industry says to change it every 3,000 miles. If you use synthetic oil, you can do it at 6,000. Oil lubricates and travels through the engine. You don’t want dirty oil. It can start to thicken and stick to the valves and the pistons. It’ll gunk up and your car will start burning oil. It can create engine sludge; lack of oil maintenance can ruin your entire engine.
When we work on a car, we look at what service is due at that time. Whether it’s timing belts, drive belts, spark plugs or fluid changes. The one thing that people overlook is the belts – timing belt, alternator, power steering belts. If the timing belt breaks, the engine will stall and you’re stuck. If you’re driving down the road and your power steering belt breaks, you will lose your power steering, making the wheel very difficult to turn.
Maintenance intervals should be determined by age as well as mileage. Say your timing belt is due to be replaced at 90 thousand miles, and the car only has 60 thousand on it. But the car is eight years old. Eight years of living in Maryland through summers and winters can do a number on the belts. Sometimes these components get worn by age, not by mileage.
It’s important to check little things: your wiper blades, the lights. We don’t always realize when the brake lights go out. Also, check your spare tire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from someone who got a flat and went for the spare and found that it was flat. Or it wasn’t even there.
While you’re at it, take a look at your car insurance. You might have roadside assistance, or you can add it to your policy for very little money. This can help a lot if you get into trouble.
In the winter, I keep a survival kit: jumper cables, fix-it flat, a pair of gloves and a flashlight. If I’m by myself and something happens to my car, I’m prepared.*
Original post from November/December 2015 | STORY / REVIEWS BY Martha Thomas
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