You may not know it, but the Car Care Council sets aside two months a year to promote car care awareness: April and October are both Car Care Month! For drivers, Car Care Month is a useful reminder to check up on routine maintenance and upkeep items, as well as any chronic problems that might need to be addressed. Here are a few points:
· Check the fluids: Motor oil level should be checked with every fill-up of fuel, and changed (using the proper grade) at manufacturer's recommended intervals. Brake, power steering, coolant, automatic transmission and windshield washer fluids all need to be topped off and checked regularly. Coolant and AF should be flushed and replaced at manufacturer's recommended intervals.
· Belts and hoses: With every oil change, the condition of the hoses should be checked; a pressure test of the cooling system will quickly reveal a failing hose or weak hose clamp. The serpentine belt and tensioner need to be inspected for tension and signs of wear such as fraying, chipping or glazing. If your vehicle has a timing belt rather than a chain, the belt should be changed at around 60-90,000 miles to avoid severe engine damage.
· Tires: One of the most common maintenance items with tires is the proper inflation level; underinflated tires have increased rolling resistance, which means poorer fuel economy and heat buildup that can shorten tire life drastically. Tires should be inspected for tread condition, signs of uneven wear, bulges, foreign objects, damage or other signs of impending failure.
· Exhaust: A leaky exhaust system is dangerous! The entire exhaust system, including muffler and pipes, should be checked for rust-through, holes or broken or failed hangers and hardware. The O2 sensor on the catalytic converter should be inspected as well.
· A/C: Even a late-model car can lose five percent of its refrigerant over a year's time. Check the A/C system yearly and recharge if needed, using a refrigerant that contains lubricant and a dye that can indicate leaks.
· Tune-up: Today's cars don't need the thorough tune-up of cars from 50 years ago, but cars that have a lot of miles on the odometer still need comprehensive maintenance packages. A tune-up today might mean changing the air filter, spark plugs and coil packs, running a scan on the engine computer to find any trouble codes and replacing any sensors or components that the trouble codes indicate.
· Wheel alignment: Any car that pulls to one side while driving in a straight line or is showing uneven tire wear may be in need of wheel alignment. Other signs can include a steering wheel that won't center itself readily after making a turn, or steering that feels clumsy or “heavy.”
While today's vehicles don't need as much maintenance as cars from a generation ago, it's still vital to keep up with routine maintenance and repair. At 106 St Tire in Jamaica, Queens, our service department will take good care of your car, so it can take care of you – make an appointment with us today!