Now that winter is over, it's time to start thinking about spring car maintenance and vehicle health. Here, three auto experts and YouTube channel hosts weigh in with their top tips for car care. If you’re wondering how to maintain and extend the life of your vehicle, include these practices in your maintenance routine.
Tip #1: Stay on Top of Oil Changes
Your vehicle needs oil to regulate the engine's temperature. If you wait too long between changes, the oil will become sludge-like and clog the engine. If that happens, it can be a major expense to clean and replace any damaged parts.
It's important to have regular oil changes — usually every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Consult your owner's manual for specific oil change instructions and frequency recommendations.
Jason Fenske, host of the YouTube channel Engineering Explained, advises, “Stay on top of your oil changes, and make sure your oil is at the proper fill level between oil changes. The wear on your engine increases significantly when the oil level is reduced. With less oil, that remaining oil has to work harder, so it breaks down faster, and your oil's protection begins to decrease exponentially as it burns off (or leaks). Check your dipsticks!” He adds, “Every few visits to the gas station, pop the hood and look at your oil level while the car is filling up. It's super easy and very important!"
Robert Spinner, host of the YouTube channel Robert DIY, also recommends paying attention to your oil. "Check the oil level regularly, as outlined in the owner's manual."
Tip #2: Don’t Let Your Car Sit Too Long
Many people are guilty of letting their vehicles sit for long periods of time. However, this can be a very hazardous practice for your car and can cause numerous and costly problems down the line. For one, batteries tend to burn out after inactivity. For older models, even just a couple weeks of inactivity could kill the battery.
We also frequently see low, warped or deflated tires after long periods of inactivity. Driving the vehicle with tires in this condition is not only dangerous but could damage the vehicle. Fuel pumps and gas tanks can also suffer from prolonged inactivity, as fluids cease flowing through the relevant components.
Engineering Explained's Fenske writes, “Don't let vehicles sit for super-long periods of time. If you don't use a vehicle regularly, make a point to drive it now and then and bring it up to operating temperature. It's also good to have a battery tender [that plugs into a standard AC outlet] for vehicles that sit, so you don't put too much strain on your alternator when you start the car each time.”
Also, if you own a foreign vehicle, it's a good idea to take it in to a foreign auto repair specialist regularly for a tune-up or inspection.
Tip #3: Look After the Battery
Most of us have experienced battery issues at one point or another. Even if your car stalls just once, it's a good idea to have the battery looked at right away. Certainly, if your car has needed a jump start recently, it's time to bring the vehicle in.
On average, a car battery will last between five to seven years. Consult your owner's manual for guidance.
Jim Bates, host of the YouTube channel Wrenchin’ Up with Jim Bates, says, “The best way to guarantee the longest possible service life in a vehicle that gets driven every day is to keep the battery area/container and battery clean and secure. Heat and vibration are big causes of shortened battery life. Batteries exposed to these extremes won't last as long, as measured in time and charge/discharge cycles." He adds, "Electrical devices that are added to the vehicle [nonoriginal equipment] may cause the battery to supply the needed extra current more often, which can also lead to a shortened battery life. So vehicles with added electrical equipment should also be fitted with an upgraded battery in terms of capacity and CCA [cold cranking amps].”
Tip #4: Fix Fluid Leaks Immediately
Fluid leaks could lead to a disastrous situation. Some leaks are more serious than others, but all should be addressed right away. You might be able to tell by the color of the fluid where the leak is coming from. We frequently see motor oil, transmission fluid, coolant and power steering fluid leaks.
Coolant leaks are probably the most frequent and can cause serious damage to the vehicle if ignored. Spinner at Robert DIY says, "Don't play coolant roulette. Fix coolant leaks immediately."
Keep these tips in mind to extend the life of your vehicle and save money down the road. Don't delay repairs and always keep on top of regular car maintenance. For help with these or any other auto repair or maintenance needs, stop by one of Rainbow Muffler and Brake's six auto repair shops today.