Nothing extends the life of your car like regular maintenance. Staying on top of oil changes and routine inspections will go a long way toward keeping your vehicle running safely and smoothly for years to come — but just taking care of obvious things like brakes and fluids only goes so far.
4 Car Maintenance Tips You Probably Haven't Heard of
There are several other important but often-overlooked parts of your car that need regular maintenance. Keep an eye on these four tasks to keep your car in the best possible shape.
Maintaining Rubber Seals
Did you know that the rubber seals that line your car’s doors — also known as weather-stripping — need upkeep and replacement? These strips help keep rain, wind and moisture from seeping into your car’s cabin. When they become loose or damaged, the inside of your car can feel just like the outside, and if the weather happens to be hot, humid or cold when that happens, you’ll be in for a miserable drive.
To keep your car’s rubber seals in working condition, you should clean them with warm soapy water whenever you wash the rest of your car. Inspect the seals for any cracks or other issues. If the seals have come loose, you can easily reattach them with a tube of weather-strip and gasket adhesive. To prevent future cracking or separation, wipe down the seals using silicone to prevent water from soaking into the rubber.
Protecting the Interior From Harmful UV Rays
Keeping your car’s exterior out of direct sunlight to protect your paint is a no brainer, but UV rays can also damage the interior of your car. Too much sun exposure can cause your dashboard to dry and split, your leather seats to crack and your fabric upholstery to fade over time.
Avoiding direct sunlight whenever possible will go a long way toward reducing UV damage, so the easiest way to protect your interior is to park in the shade. When you can’t find a shady parking spot, use a windshield sun protector to help keep your cabin cool and reduce exposure to UV rays. Lastly, install seat covers or regularly wipe down your leather seats to prevent unsightly fading or cracking.
Keeping Headlights Clear
Foggy headlights don’t just look bad, they can also be dangerous. Keeping your headlights clear of oxidation will improve visibility to make driving safer and less stressful at night and in poor weather conditions.
Fogging is often caused when moisture finds its way into the headlight assembly through cracks, leaks or poor seals. Once inside, the moisture causes interior condensation that clouds the inside of the headlight. Fortunately, it’s easy to keep headlights clear. Just follow these steps:
- Shine a light, at an angle, into your headlight to see if there is any condensation. If there is, you most likely have a crack or leak you need to address.
- Remove the headlights and allow them to sit overnight on a clean towel to dry out.
- Inspect the assembly for any cracks. These can be repaired using a clear urethane sealant or similar waterproof sealant. Silicone spray can help to ensure a good, watertight seal.
- Wash and clean the outside of the headlamp with glass cleaner.
If the outside of your headlight still looks foggy, you can purchase a headlight-restoration kit. Once your lights are clear, make it a habit to regularly apply a surface protectant to reduce oxidation and damage from debris.
Inspecting and Cleaning the Undercarriage
Have you ever thought about the condition of the underside of your car? Many people don’t think of the undercarriage when they think of maintenance, but that’s a mistake. The issue? Salt. Driving on streets that have been treated with road salt to prevent ice can cause rust to build up and eventually erode your car’s undercarriage. Living near the beach can result in the same problem because salt in the air comes into contact with your car. After enough time and corrosion, you’ll be stuck with major repairs to fix your brakes, muffler, frame and exhaust system.
Fortunately, it’s easy to maintain your car’s undercarriage. Regular car washes are a simple way to help remove salt from your car. Taking the time to pressure wash and degrease the undercarriage will also help, though this may be difficult if you can’t see the underside of your car without using lifts. Brakes and fuel lines are most susceptible to rust, so check them regularly for corrosion to help you catch a small problem before it becomes a big one.
Why Is Car Maintenance Important?
No one wants to get stuck on the side of the road with an unexpected tire blowout or steam billowing from underneath the hood. By committing to a regular maintenance schedule, you’ll prevent the types of issues that can derail your day and cost you hundreds in towing and repairs.
The good news is that most car problems are slow to occur. Whether it’s a snapped belt, overheating engine or failing brakes, these problems can all be caught and addressed by routine inspections and upkeep. Taking the time to bring your car to a repair shop when the check-engine light turns on or when you hear an odd sound can save you money, time and stress in the long run. Reputable shops often include a visual inspection of your vehicle when it’s brought in for maintenance, ensuring that an expert eye will catch problems while they’re still easily fixable.
Experts You Can Trust
For all of the maintenance you can’t do on your own, it’s important to have a mechanic you trust and a shop where you feel good about leaving your car. This trusted relationship will help you be proactive about maintenance instead of waiting until a small issue turns into an expensive repair. For all of your car care needs, from oil changes to engine work, you can trust Rainbow Muffler & Brake. We have been providing quality auto-repair services to customers in northern Ohio since 1980, and are the right team to help extend your vehicle’s life through preventive maintenance. Visit any of our six locations today!