Caught up in the day-to-day flow of life, it’s easy to overlook certain aspects of automotive maintenance especially if there aren’t any immediate consequences to doing so. Over time, however, letting things slide here and there can add up to a problem you’ll eventually have to deal with down the road, and it’s possible that the cure will cost significantly more than the steps you could have taken to prevent the issue in the first place.
Check out these 5 commonly overlooked areas of car maintenance, and see which ones you might be able to tackle on your vehicle.
Most modern cars provide a digital readout that can tell you whether your tires are safely inflated or not but even if your vehicle does have this feature, not everyone remembers to check it on a regular basis. Tires that aren’t filled with the factory-recommended air pressure will have a negative impact on your fuel mileage, and they also wear unevenly, which could see you replacing the rubber on your car or truck earlier than planned. Tires with too much air in them are less common, but they also can cause uneven wear, as well as reduce your vehicle’s handling capability.
It’s worth checking your tire pressures once per month either with your in-car system or a cheap tire pressure gauge to make sure you don’t even up paying more for gas or new tires than you absolutely have to.
The plastic on your headlight lenses takes a lot of abuse. Not only is it under constant attack from dust, rocks, and other road debris, but it’s also being pelted by UV rays from the sun, and, if you live in a cold weather climate, road salt during the winter months. Combine that with the heat from the bulbs, and you end up with a situation where a dull, yellowish haze can form over the lenses, which reduces the amount of light that’s projected onto the road ahead and makes your vehicle less safe to drive at night.
Fortunately, you don’t have to replace a hazed headlight to bring it back into factory spec. Headlight restoration kits are available that allow you to polish away the yellow and come back to clear for a very affordable price, usually by way of a special polish or paste that is applied either by hand or with the use of a rotary drill and buffer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much light your original headlights can throw down after they’ve been polished back to safety.
Doesn’t it seem like a dead battery is always a surprise? It really shouldn’t be. Car batteries have a definite shelf life on average, about six years and that number can be cut nearly in half if temperatures regularly drop below the freezing point in the winter. Fortunately, you don’t have to guess whether your battery is up to snuff or not, because almost every auto parts shop will test it for free and provide you with a report on how healthy it is. If you purchase a new battery, most shops will install it for free. Once you’re at the three-year mark, it’s well worth getting your battery tested with the changing of the seasons to make sure you won’t find yourself stranded.
Is the wheel on your car vibrating ever so slightly at highway speeds? Do you feel a light tug or pull in one direction or another in certain driving conditions? Is there a vagueness in the steering, or maybe you’ve noticed that one tire seems more worn out than the others on your vehicle? All of these are signs that indicate your car or truck could be due for an alignment.
Wheel alignments help keep your vehicle tracking straight and true, but they also ensure that its weight is distributed evenly across its tires, allowing them to keep the same contact patch with the road and wear at the same rate. A misaligned car whether due to a pothole, loose suspension components, or simple mileage can eat a set of tires quickly, not to mention burn a hole in your wallet. Don’t ignore the warnings if you suspect a potential alignment issue.
Each of the fluids under the hood of your vehicle have a definite lifespan. You’re probably familiar with how often you need to change the oil in your car, but when was the last time you check in on the status of your power steering fluid, antifreeze/coolant, windshield wash, or brake fluid? Each of these maintenance items are easy to verify but are often forgotten until a problem arises. Keep track of how long your fluids have been in your automobile, and check the fluid level and quality twice a year to make sure they’re still performing as expected.
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