Top Tips for Keeping Your Car in Tip Top Shape

You can keep your vehicle in great condition by proactively servicing the vehicle. The good news is that it is not terribly difficult to take care of your vehicle once you know some basic rules of maintenance. We’ve outlined a few tips you should be aware of that can help keep your vehicle in good shape:

LC Image - Top Tips for Keeping Your Car in Tip Top Shape

Check and change the oil at regular intervals

This is perhaps the most important way you can keep your engine running smoothly for a long time to come. Have Mavis Tires and Brakes check your oil levels at least once a month. That way you’ll know how much, if any, oil your car is using, and how to avoid potential problems before they happen.

It is suggested that oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. This recommendation comes from a time when motor oil wasn't as advanced as it is today. In the past, if oil was left in the crankcase for too long, it began to degrade, which caused a sludge buildup. The motor oils of today don't break down as quickly and, therefore, don't cause a sludge buildup as rapidly. Engines have also undergone many changes over the years and are now able to run longer with less maintenance. Look to your owners manual for the proper replacement interval.

Regardless of which maintenance schedule you elect to follow, there are many factors that should be taken into consideration. For example, if you do a lot of stop-and-go driving, have your car idling a lot, or drive in extreme weather, you may need to change your oil more often. It's also important to remember that every car is different and has different needs. When deciding how often to change your oil and what type of oil to use, it's always best to see what the manufacturer recommends.

Have cooling systems flushed

Keeping your vehicle’s engine cool during the summer can be tricky, especially if you are driving an older car. If your engine is having a hard time functioning in this weather, ask the professionals at your local Mavis if a coolant flush can help resolve your engine issues. A coolant flush can prevent damage to both your vehicle’s cooling system and engine. Keeping your system clear of unwanted debris can protect components of your cooling system, such as hoses and coolant lines. 

These elements of your engine’s cooling system can prevent significant damage to your vehicle. On a larger scale, heat balance is one of the most necessary roles that your vehicle’s coolant plays; when your engine does not have what it needs to cool down, this extra heat can worsen existing engine issues or create new problems for your vehicle. To prevent costly or significant damage to your engine, a coolant flush can help you keep your vehicle lasting longer.

Change your coolants

If you're having regular maintenance done to your car, particularly oil changes every 3,000 miles, maintaining your cooling system is easy to do. Start by checking your coolant every other time it is time to change the oil, or at least twice per year.

While it may be a good idea to check your coolants a couple of times a year, that doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be changed that often. In fact, it's often sufficient to have it changed once every 2-3 years, or 24,000, to 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. If you drive in extremely hot temperatures, you may need to change your fluid more often, perhaps even as often as once a year. The experts at Mavis can help.

Change transmission and differential oils

Engine oil isn't the only type of oil in your car that needs to be checked at regular intervals. While they don't need to be checked and changed nearly as often, transmission and differential oils should be changed at specific times as well. A general rule of thumb is to change your transmission fluids every 30,000 miles, but you should consult your owner's manual to see what is recommended for your make and model.

If you have a front-wheel drive vehicle, there is no need to change differential fluid. Why? Because in front-wheel drives, the differential is located in the front and shares fluid with your transmission. In rear-wheel drives, the differential oil is located in the back, while four-wheel drives have three differentials – one in the front, one in the center, and one in the back. This differential oil should be changed at the same intervals as the transmission oil.

Check and change your brake fluid

The brakes, along with the engine, are arguably the most important components of a car. Needless to say, your brakes take care of you, so you should make it a high priority to take care of them.

To maintain your brakes, you need to regularly check your brake fluids and, if needed, change the fluids. Brake fluid is great at attracting moisture, which is not great for your car. Moisture leads to a host of problems, including corrosion and rust, which can lead to your brakes ultimately failing. Some accidents are unavoidable, but those caused by inefficient and ineffective brakes can be avoided. Your brake fluids should be bled and replaced annually as part of your maintenance plan.

Clean your vehicle

While most people vacuum and wash their cars on a fairly regular basis, there's more to cleaning your car than vacuuming the inside and making the outside shine.

Your car travels on streets of all kinds and in all conditions and, in doing so, encounters many different elements. From everyday road grime to winter salt, the underside of your car goes through a lot on a daily basis. So, when washing your car, you should periodically hose off the underside to remove all potentially harmful and disturbing substances from your car.

Protect your car from the weather

Many types of weather can be damaging to your car, so it's important to take steps to prevent this kind of damage. Extreme cold and extreme heat are the biggest culprits when it comes to wreaking havoc on your car- inside and outside.

Cold weather can be troublesome for vehicles, and is the root cause of a surprising amount of vehicle damage. In adverse weather, particularly on cold winter days, use a covered parking space. If you're at home, make sure you have room in your garage to park your vehicle to protect it from the cold. The cold can be hard enough on your car, but a blanket of snow covering your vehicle can be especially damaging, causing not only your exterior to become damaged, but increasing the odds of other parts freezing.

Hot weather can be just as damaging to your car as cold weather. Among the potential items to be damaged are the interior plastic, interior (seats and related items), and exterior paint. Fortunately, it is possible to help your car avoid the damage caused by the sun's rays. The best way to protect your car from the heat is by parking in the shade or under some kind of covering. If there are no covered parking spaces available, use a window deflector screen or apply a UV protectant to safeguard the inside of your car.

Grease and lubricate regularly

Any tool or piece of machinery that has moving parts requires grease in order to not only survive, but perform at its highest level. Your car is a high-performance machine that you depend on to get you from place to place.

You may be wondering which part of your car needs to be lubricated the most. Start with the chassis of your vehicle. This is what supports the bulk of your vehicle's weight, including components such as steering arms and suspension systems. Generally, it's a good idea to do this every 3 months or 10,000 miles, or so. An easy way to remember when to do this is by lubricating every other oil change.

It's also crucial to lubricate other moving parts.There are other more minor, but nonetheless important, parts of your car that should be lubricated from time to time as well. These parts include door hinges, window tracks, door locks, door seals, and others. While there are not necessarily any regular intervals at which to grease these items, approximately once a year should be sufficient. Maintenance on these items should take less than a couple hours of your time and can prevent nagging problems down the road.

Examine, clean, and repack wheel bearings with wheel bearing grease

Whether you perform your car's maintenance yourself or take it to Mavis Tires and Brakes to be serviced, you should have your wheel bearings examined and greased at regular intervals. This can seem tedious, but it doesn't need to be done very often. Most importantly, it's a lot less expensive to maintain and grease your wheel bearings than it is to have to prematurely replace spindles and hubs. 

Perform tire maintenance

There are many factors that contribute to how often your tires need to be changed, including the type of car you own, how and where it is driven, and how well you maintain your tires. Ultimately, car owners need to know how to test for wear and how to decide when tires need to be changed.

The first way to test your tire's tread is to examine the tread wear bars (the rubber bridges in the grooves between the ridges). If you find that these bars are level with the tread pattern, the tire should be replaced. A tire's tread can also be tested by using a depth gauge. These tools are inexpensive and easy to find at any reputable auto parts store. By using this simple tool, you can get an accurate measurement and will be better able to make the best possible decision about when it's time to replace your tires.

The best way to get the most out of your tires is to properly maintain them. This is a fairly simple process that mainly consists of ensuring that your tires are properly inflated. Both underinflated and over-inflated tires can lead to a number of problems, and will lead to uneven or excessive wear over time. Consult your owner's manual or tire manufacturer to figure out the recommended inflation level for your tires. You can also consult your local tire experts at Mavis Tires and Brakes. 

The Bottom Line

As we've discussed, there is no secret potion or magic formula to making your car last a long time. So, change your fluids, wash your car regularly, and protect your car from harsh weather conditions. By following a simple maintenance program with Mavis Tires and Brakes, you will keep your car in good condition, while leaving others to question how you do it. Most importantly, you'll know you can rely on it to take you wherever you need to go.