Your car has many different parts, and for it to run smoothly, each part must be in top condition. If one component fails, the entire vehicle may suffer. You should do several things to help maintain your car, but do you know why performing regular maintenance checks on your car is important? Understanding your car's needs, from fluid levels to brake testing, can help you identify potential problems.
Check the Car Fluid Levels
Cars rely on a variety of fluids to keep them running smoothly. While your mechanic can help you with routine maintenance, performing your own checks in between car inspections is a good idea. Here's a list of some car fluids to keep an eye on in case they run low and cause your vehicle to stop working properly.
Oil. Oil is required to lubricate the metal in car engines. If you let the engine run out of oil completely, friction from metal rubbing against metal can generate unnecessary heat and cause the metal to meld together. Consider replacing it if there is still oil present but it appears dirty. Dirty oil is thick and erosive, and contaminants may begin to erode the metal in your vehicle.
Transmission fluid. Transmission fluid, like engine oil, aids in the lubrication and proper operation of a critical component: the transmission. When transmission fluid runs low, contaminants can form and the transmission's life is shortened.
Coolant. Coolant, which is composed of ethylene or propylene and water, absorbs heat and transports it through the radiator. Because of the hot environment in which it lives, coolant degrades over time. As a result of the lack of rust inhibitors in the coolant, rust may form, blocking any cooling paths and overheating your engine.
Brake fluid. While brake fluid does not become dirty or evaporate, it may absorb moisture from the environment. Because water boils at a lower temperature than brake fluid, air can form in your brake lines.
Steering fluid. The power steering fluid aids in steering and, if not changed, can make the steering wheel difficult to turn.
Examine the Tire Pressure and Alignment
You can't overestimate or underestimate the amount of air your tires require if you want to get from point A to point B. Tire pressure that is too high or too low can have an impact on your vehicle's cornering, braking, and stability. When you have high tire pressure, less of the tire touches the ground, reducing traction and increasing stopping distance. Low tire pressure means that more of the tire contacts the road, causing the tires to wear out faster and increasing the risk of overheating due to friction against the ground. Check your owner's manual to find out what tire pressure is recommended for your vehicle.
It is also critical to inspect your tire alignment to ensure that your vehicle's suspension is operating properly. A misaligned tire can cause your car to veer in one direction or even cause vibrations while driving. If you notice uneven tread wear on your car, if it pulls to one side more than the other, if your straightened steering wheel appears off center, or if you experience vibration through your steering wheel, you should take it to a service technician.
Check the brakes on a regular basis.
Depending on where your morning commute takes you, driving through areas with more stop lights and stop signs may require you to step on the brakes more frequently than if you normally take the highway. Your brakes are a hydraulic system composed of a series of pads that squeeze together when prompted and are powered by brake fluid. When brake pads become too worn, it becomes more difficult to slow or stop. Your vehicle's service light will most likely illuminate when it's time to inspect your brakes, but don't rely solely on that technology; if you notice any leaking fluids, notice how thick or thin your pads have become, or hear a grinding sound, it may be time to replace your brakes.
As a car owner, it is your responsibility to regularly maintain your car like you would any other type of property you own. If you ignore your car, it could put your safety at risk.