The automobile is like the human body. It needs sustenance, but just as crucially, it requires it in healthy doses and with a good diet in mind. Every once in a while, a detox would be great. But unlike our physical bodies, a car has many internal moving parts that constantly wear out and needs a replacement once their expiration date comes along.
This is natural, as major components like seals, bearings, wires, hoses, batteries, fluids, spark plugs, and a whole lot more needs to be swapped out at some point in time. Mind you, some parts are replaced more frequently than others. However, this doesn't mean that there's nothing you can do to prolong the lifespan of these components, and make those end-of-life cycles more palatable.
After all, longer-lasting pieces of machinery will necessitate less money from you in terms of repairs and raw materials, as well as making sure your car runs smoother and peachier than ever. That's why we try to practice regular maintenance and servicing as much as possible. You'd be surprised at how easy these can be, and even the novice could do it at home.
So, here are some of the very basic car maintenance to have on your checklist for you to tick off...
Especially now that we're in lockdown mode, the battery is a part of the car that will no doubt go flat as you're leaving your automobile idling in the garage. Therefore, it's worth not only keeping a check on your battery's charge, but also to top it up when you can. The easiest way to keep your battery in its peak charge is to drive your car around for at least 15 minutes - not just starting the car up, mind - thus letting the alternator top it up gradually.
2. Electrics And Electronics
While we're on the subject of electrics, it's a good time to make sure all your car's electrics are working well, too. The battery and the entire electrical system with its many wires and cables might be functioning well. Nonetheless, individual electrical components could still fail. These are items like the headlights, taillights, turn signals, and parking lights, all of which need a new bulb or fuse every now and then.
3. Engine Oil
Motor oil is crucial to your engine for a number of reasons. Not only does it aid in lubricating the many moving parts inside of your engine, hence ensuring that it runs as smoothly as possible, but also in keeping it cool. You can very easily check the level and condition of the oil within the engine bay, through the dipstick placed within the engine oil reservoir. Then, check the colour. Golden brown is good, but a dark brown or black means it needs a flush and change.
4. All The Other Fluids
While we're on the subject of motor oil, know that your car has plenty of other fluids to keep it running at its best. These include the coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and even the washer fluids. As for their condition, you can tell this easily by their colour. Generally, coolant starts out as blue or orange, with power steering and transmission fluids in red, and brake fluid in yellow. If they darken beyond this to brown or black, then it's time for a flush and change.
5. Tyre Pressure And Treadwear
Tyres are one very important piece on your car that is often not inspected properly, or as frequently as you should. While good tyres will net you better fuel economy and performance, they may also save your life. Therefore, make sure you're on top of your tyre's pressure with a pressure monitoring tool. Otherwise, check your tyre's treads and see if they're wearing out. Carefully and thoroughly have a look through the grooves, such as how much depth remains, and whether there's any damage.
6. Air Filters
Your car has many different filters that comb through the outside air, from the engine's air filter to your cabin and air-conditioning. Your engine air filter is no doubt the most important one. The filter needs to keep debris, dirt, and other particulates from getting into the engine. Sooner rather than later, they can clog up. This will have a serious impact on your car's performance and fuel efficiency, as the air intake is now restricted. Access to the filters should be fairly easy enough for a check-up.
7. Spark Plugs
This is a bit more of an advanced automotive maintenance to-do item, but it's still manageable, even at home. The spark plugs are what ignites the fuel and air mixture in your engine, which results in combustion, and your engine actually creating power. Spark plugs can wear out over time, which you can notice through misfiring or your engine's power feeling a tad sluggish than before. In that case, your spark plugs need a swap, usually one per cylinder.
Your car's engine usually has many different belts to transfer power or energy from the engine to a different component. Or, it might be to sync up the rotation or movement of parts to work in unison. In any case, these belts are often made of rubber, like the ones you'd find used for the timing or the serpentine belt. The latter of which powers the alternator, A/C compressor, and various pumps. Being rubber, it'll of course start to crack over time due to heat exposure.
9. Windshield Wipers
Okay, back to something easy that you can actually inspect and do with ease, we have the windshield wipers. You certainly won't need us to explain why this is important, as old and poorly wipers won't be able to clear the windshield as well. This, as a consequence, means that you'll have a harder time seeing out of your own car. So, be sure to keep an eye on your wiper, and change them out regularly any time it wears out, which is a simple process to do.
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