The 5 Most Overlooked Car Maintenance Jobs
Ask most mechanics and they’ll tell you there are two kinds of car owners: those who take good care of their vehicles, and those who don’t. Those who do take the time and effort to properly care for a vehicle know that it’s no easy task – often with a good deal of careful maintenance that can be time-consuming and costly. The more you put in, however, the more you’ll get out of your beloved car.
But among some of the more obvious maintenance tasks – like oil changes and brake pad replacement – there are a few scattered things that every good car owner should take care of, and many of these tend to be overlooked in favor of the more commonly known milestones. This can lead to more time and more money spent in car maintenance shops than on the road enjoying your car.
Here are five of the simplest, most overlooked maintenance jobs that every car owner should be on top of. Keep these in your peripherals when doing your basic maintenance and you can extend the life of your vehicle for years longer than you might have thought.
Engine Air Filter
The air filter is a tricky piece of your car to nail down, and that’s probably why few come with exact instructions as to how and when to replace them. That’s because so much has to do with how and where you drive, how often you are on the road, and in what kind of conditions you drive through. Even then, the best way to tell your car needs a new air filter is to simply inspect yours and see how dirty it looks. If there is a lot of noticeable debris or damage like open holes, it’s time to get a new filter.
That being said, it’s easy to replace your filter too early, especially since many mechanics try to sell filters with each oil change. In reality, the average filter only needs to be changed about ever 20,000 miles, or more frequently depending on your driving conditions. Drivers in dusty or sandy areas ay find they need filters sooner, and others may be able to go longer without a new one.
This involves literally taking each tire off of your vehicle and replacing it on another wheelbase on the car, often following a specific pattern of rotation. This ensures that all four of your tires are wearing evenly, and that none is wearing away heavily on one side and not on the others. This could lead to a puncture or blowout if tires wear too much on one side. Regular rotation not only extends the life of your tires, but helps maintain proper traction on the road as well.
Much like your engine itself (which is lubricated by motor oil) your transmission features dozens of moving parts, and needs a way to prevent these parts from grinding against each other. That’s where transmission fluid comes in – designed to last much longer than motor oil and under higher temperatures, this fluid is critical in maintaining a healthy, functional transmission. Check the transmission fluid dipstick in your engine block and check for discoloration or a bad smell – this could be a sign that your fluid needs to be drained and replaced, a task that should be done about every 50,000 miles or so, or as often as your owner’s manual suggests.
Much like transmission fluid, coolant is also very often overlooked by car owners who aren’t familiar with the inner workings of a vehicle – and why coolant is so important. Not only does it prevent your engine from overheating on those hot summer days, but it also keeps everything from icing over during the freezing winter months. In short, without coolant, your engine becomes exceptionally vulnerable to the elements.
For something so noticeable and easy to replace, wiper blades are often one of the most neglected parts on the average vehicle. These should be changed as soon as you start to notice streaking or missed sections when the blades are running, as in a rain or snow storm. Wiper blades are necessary for maintaining proper visibility on the road, and without them you put yourself and your passengers at risk of some pretty dangerous driving.
These are far and away the most neglected car maintenance tasks that every owner should really be paying closer attention to. By following these simple guidelines, you’ll keep your car running for years to come – and maybe even a little longer.