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Ten Timely Tips for Trouble-Free Driving for National Car Care Month
April is National Car Care Month and we present ten timely tips for trouble-free driving, brought to you by Joel Burrows, a.k.a. the 'Car Doctor'. “Just as a healthy lifestyle and proper medical care help you live longer, regular maintenance and timely technical attention help ensure your car's longevity and dependability,” says the Car Doctor.
Fluids - Change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, or as recommended by the manufacturer. A multi-viscosity oil is best for most driving conditions. Today’s vehicles run on a fine film of fluids, so make sure you service all fluids on a regular basis and in accordance with the manufacturers’ recommendations.
Battery & Tires - Have your battery tested by a certified professional at least once a year or during seasonal weather changes. Also check tire pressure (recommended air pressure is posted on the driver’s door or in the glove compartment). Tires should be rotated twice a year and wheels should be balanced once a year (or every 15,000 miles).
Filters - Replace air and fuel filters as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer to keep your vehicle running right. Many new vehicles also have cabin air filters that filter air drawn in by the Heating and A/C system, which should also be inspected and replaced as needed.
Belts and Hoses - To see if belts need replacing, check the underside for cracks. Radiator hoses need replacing when they become hard, brittle, or develop soft spots that can cause the hose to bulge. These should be checked with every oil change.
Brakes - If brake fluid is low, do not top off. This may mean that sufficient wear has occurred and indicates a brake inspection should be performed. Brake fluid should not be topped off because it can cause the brake warning system to not alert the driver when the brake pads are worn to the point of replacement.
Wiper Blades - Replace wiper blades when they fail to properly clear the windshield within two passes (either during rainy conditions or when user washer fluid to remove grime from the windshield).
Engine Performance Analysis - A thorough engine analysis should be performed once a year to ensure ignition and emission system components are functioning properly. This analysis can determine if sufficient spark plug wear has occurred, requiring the vehicle to be “tuned up.”
Lights - Lights are one of the most overlooked safety items on an automobile. Lights are not only for driver convenience, but also signal other drivers as to the intentions of the motorist. All lights (headlights, fog lights, tail and brake lights, turn signals, hazards) should be inspected at every oil change.
Leaks - Low fluid levels could be a sign of a leak. Maintaining proper fluid levels helps determine by visual inspection if a leak may be present. Remember, brake fluid gets low due to normal wear of brake pads and shoes.
Certification - Always have your car serviced by a reputable certified technician. Obtain a written estimate of detailed services in advance. If facing costly repairs, consider a second opinion.