Take care of your car and it will take care of you. Following basic car maintenance tips can help keep you on the road and out of the repair shop.
A little vehicular TLC can even help stretch your fuel dollar and help the environment, too.
Here are some car care guidelines:
Most car batteries today are maintenance-free, sealed and can last more than three years. The first sign your battery should be replaced is often trouble starting the engine.
A car tire inflated to 35 pounds per square inch (psi) can lose one psi every month or for every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature change, so your car maintenance checklist should include checking tire pressure. Find the recommended level in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb. And don’t forget the spare.
Rotate tires every 6,000 miles to prevent uneven wear, replace them when they become worn and have the alignment checked if the car pulls to either side when driving or if you notice uneven tire wear.
Checking and changing oil is critical to keep today’s engines running properly and efficiently. Follow manufacturer guidelines for changing the lubricant – generally, every 3,000 miles or three to six months.
Check the oil level with the engine off and the car parked on a level surface. Open the hood, remove the dipstick, wipe it clean with a cloth or paper towel, then return it to the oil reservoir. Take it out again and see whether the level is within the acceptable range marked on the dipstick. If you add oil, don’t overfill, which can damage the engine.
Checking the automatic transmission fluid is another vital item on the car maintenance checklist. Look for a reservoir marked ATF (automatic transmission fluid) and follow the same steps as monitoring the oil level – only this time, with the engine running. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for change intervals, about every 30,000 miles.
Replace most engine coolant or antifreeze every 30,000 miles – or every two to three years. Newer formulas, however, may last up to 50,000 miles. To check coolant level, turn the car off and wait for the engine to cool. Locate the coolant reservoir (usually a translucent plastic tank) and eyeball the level of the coolant against the full and low indicators.
Power steering fluid
Power steering fluid should be changed every three years or 50,000 miles. If you have a power steering fluid reservoir, check the level visually; otherwise, follow the dipstick method. Low power steering fluid may indicate a leak, so have your mechanic take a look.
Brakes and brake fluid
Check to ensure that brake fluid levels are within tolerance. How often you need to replace brake pads or other components depends on how you drive and typical driving conditions. Warning signs of a brake problem include noise, vibration or “grabbing” when you apply the brakes. Working on your brakes is a job probably best left to the professionals.
Basic car maintenance suggests changing your air filter each year or every 12,000-15,000 miles. A clean air filter can help your engine “breathe” better and improve gas mileage and reduce harmful emissions.
Replace it annually to help prevent debris from clogging your car’s fuel line.
Windshield wipers and wiper fluid
Windshield wiper care is one of the most neglected basic car care tips. Replace the blades every six to 12 months or whenever the rubber becomes worn. Check the wiper fluid reservoir every week or so and keep it full.
Headlights and brake lights
With your car turned on and parked, have someone walk around to see that your lights are working – headlights, brake and tail lights, turn signals, etc.
Replacing bulbs in today’s vehicles can be a challenge. Have a mechanic do the job, particularly replacing and aiming headlights. A pro also knows if the problem is a blown fuse, not a burned out bulb.
Learn more about basic car care Visit nationwide.com for an auto insurance quote or for driving safety tips.
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Call: 415-989-6688 or make an appointment online: visit BayHarborAuto.com
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IDG News Service - Move over, big-screen TVs, cell phones and tablets, because cars might steal the show at next week's International CES.
As preparations for the annual electronics show approach their climax here, two of the most awaited announcements aren't from big-name electronics companies but rather auto makers Toyota and Audi.
Each company plans to unveil prototype self-driving car technology here on Monday.
Toyota offered a tantalizing glimpse at its prototype through a 5-second video clip published online of its "Advanced Active Safety Research Vehicle."
The video shows a Lexus car decked out with various sensors on the front grill, rear wheels and the roof, the most striking of which is a spinning cylinder on the roof. A similar device is used in a self-driving car prototype developed by Google and in city mapping cars operated by companies including Nokia.
Lasers point at the cylinder and through reflections from the car manage to map out an accurate image of the car's surroundings complete with depth information that would be unavailable from a conventional camera.
The unveiling of the cars at CES is especially notable because the electronics show comes just a week before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. That event is one of the largest and most important global automotive shows and is typically where the world's car makers make major announcements.
Several other car makers are also researching self-driving and autonomous automotive technology.
At last year's Ceatec exhibition in Japan, Nissan unveiled a prototype car that could park itself, while Volvo is working on a vehicle platoon system that allows cars to automatically follow one another on long stretches of highway. Alongside Google in Silicon Valley, Stanford University has developed a prototype self-driving car based on an Audi TTS.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org