There’s a lot to remember when it comes to vehicle upkeep. That’s why your mechanic helpfully provides you with windshield stickers to remind you when to get certain things changed or checked out. It can sometimes feel like the entire upper left-hand corner of your windshield could be completely covered up in transparent stickers with hand written markers showing the next mileage milestone you need to keep an eye out for. While that’s a bit of a comical exaggeration, it’s important to keep track of all the regular tune-ups your vehicle needs in order to extend its years of use and maximize its performance. Regular maintenance can help avoid expensive auto repair nightmare scenarios.
There are many different kinds of tune-ups and bits of routine maintenance to be aware of every year or every how many thousands of miles. Much like going to the dentist, many of us put off the routine check-ups and space them out a bit more to our own personal liking. Some of us even wait until something goes seriously wrong before even bothering to see a professional. The irony of that attitude is that if one had stuck to the routine schedule, the serious problem you’re now facing probably could have been avoided. Personally speaking, going to the mechanic is a far less horrible ordeal than going to the dentist. “It’s like pulling teeth” is the famous phrase instead of “it’s like changing my oil,” after all.
However, change your oil you must. You don’t even have to get dirty doing it. Bring it in for service. Your oil isn’t the only thing that needs changing, though. When talking about routine maintenance, tire maintenance is often discussed. While caring for your tires is, of course, very important, they aren’t the only aspect of your vehicle you need to keep a regular eye on. Tires are the easiest thing to check and are the most immediate concern when it comes to daily safety. After all, a malfunctioning tire is a much more immediate pressing concern than popping the hood and checking your dipstick to see that you have low oil. That doesn’t mean you should discount the importance of your vehicle’s fluids, though.
Most people know about the importance of getting their motor oil changed with regularity. But, there are many essential fluids that do their part to make sure that your vehicle runs in top shape. Here are some of the most important vehicle fluids you need to keep an eye on and get checked in order to keep your vehicle running safely for years to come.
Let’s start with the one everyone is familiar with. It’s hard to call your motor oil “the most important” fluid to keep an eye on because you need all of the ones on this list to operate your vehicle. But, it’s the one you probably have to think about most and requires the most frequent maintenance. There are a few signs to look for when it comes to determining when it’s time to change your oil. If oil is allowed to run too low, become polluted with dirt and debris, or turn into sludge after a long period of not being changed, it could spell disaster for your engine. Nothing can shorten the life of a vehicle quite like leaving low levels of sludgy oil to cycle through the engine over and over again. If you can’t remember the last time you got your oil changed, it’s probably time. If you’re the type of person who is regular with it, getting your oil changed every 4,000 to 5,000 miles is usually a safe bet.
Transmission fluid is an important one that you may not have to think about terribly often over the course of a vehicle’s lifespan, but when the time comes it’s important to get it checked or changed. Keeping your transmission lubricated is important and fluid changes will occur at different points depending on whether you drive a car with a manual or automatic transmission. Manual transmissions require more changes than automatic. Both should get it done every 30,000 miles or so, but manual transmission vehicles can need it as often as every 15,000 miles if they are driven frequently. Much like with motor oil, low levels of fluid or contaminated fluid can cause havoc in your transmission which will lead to expensive repairs.
Brakes are generally checked along with your tires. Ideally, you’re getting this done once a year. When people talk about brakes and the work required, generally the focus is on the brake pads. These have to get switched out with relative regularity, but it’s important not to overlook the importance of the brake fluid as well. Brake fluid pressurizes and puts some power behind your ability to stop your 3,000-pound metal vehicle speeding along at over 60mph. Clearly, making sure your brake fluid is in good shape is important so you can maximize your chances of stopping in time to avoid a collision.
Windshield wiper fluid, or washer fluid, may not be an essential fluid for making sure your car runs properly, but it is important for your safety. There is no real timeline of when you should refill your wiper fluid. Basically, if you notice that when you engage the wiper fluid and little comes out, it’s time for a refill.
Radiator fluid, or antifreeze, is critical to your vehicle’s cooling system and we’re not talking about the air conditioning here, though that particular coolant needs to be topped off on occasion as well. Radiator fluid is what keeps your engine from overheating in the middle of a drive and leaving you stranded. You’re not getting anywhere with an engine pushed beyond its temperature limits. You may not want to think about it often, but your vehicle is essentially powered by controlled explosions. It gets hot in there. You’ll probably want to get your radiator fluid changed every two to three years or 24,000 to 36,000 miles.
Power Steering Fluid
Finally, there is the power steering fluid which is something of an unsung hero when it comes to handling your vehicle. If you’ve ever had a power steering malfunction, you know how difficult it can be to properly control your vehicle. What many people don’t realize is that it’s not just turning the steering wheel alone that gets the tires to turn. That power steering component is crucial to tight handling and responsiveness. It’s time to get your power steering fluid refilled when you start noticing it’s taking much more work to get your vehicle to turn than it normally does.
Everyone loves saving money. Sometimes that means spending a little now to save a whole lot more later on. Nothing proves this point more than vehicle ownership. Avoid expensive auto repairs or being forced to buy a new vehicle entirely. Check your vehicle fluids and get them replaced when recommended. Call us today to schedule a time to bring in your vehicle. At Independent Motors, we’re dedicated to providing you with the repairs you need so you can enjoy many more years on the road with your current vehicle.