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Preventive maintenance can
Many parts on your car are
save you money on repairs.
Ignoring maintenance can lead to
trouble: specific parts, or an
entire system can fail.
Neglecting even simple routine
maintenance, such as changing the
oil or checking the coolant, can
lead to poor fuel economy, unreliability,
or costly breakdowns.
Winter Season Tip:
On cold winter mornings, do not rev
up the engine after you start it.
Allow your engine to run at idle speed
for a few minutes before starting out,
especially when it's below 10 degrees.
Then drive moderately until it warms up.
Warming up the engine for more heat
inside the car may be nice for the
driver, but it's hard on the engine.
This check is while
the engine is running.
The transmission should be at operating
Remove dipstick, wipe clean, insert
and remove again to check the fluid level.
Be careful not to overfill!
The transmission fluid is part of a closed
system and should be red in
If you check it, and it’s brown or
smells burnt, it’s time to replace
Some experts recommend that you
should change your transmission fluid
every 24,000 miles.
Most transmission failures are the
result of fluid contamination.
Draining your transmission fluid is
not like draining the oil.
At least 70% of your transmission
fluid is held within various components
in your system.
Check with your mechanic for
professional advice or service.
This check should be done
by removing the
cap of the reservoir and filling it with
Keep it full. It’s important to keep your
clean, especially when there is sun glare.
service attendants will offer to check
your oil when the engine is hot.
Some will even show you the dipstick to
validate claim engine needs oil,
( the oldest trick in book to sell you more oil ).
It is then overfull causing a smoky exhaust.
check on level ground when the
engine is cold to give accurate reading.
Remove the dipstick, wipe with a paper
towel, reinsert the dipstick completely
in the tube.
Remove the dipstick and
read oil level.
The dipstick should have a
normal range indicated.
oil only when oil level is at or below
Add Oil mark.
Be careful not to overfill.
Changing your oil is one of
most important things that that
you can do to improve the life of
You should change your oil every 3,000
miles or every three months.
7,000 to 10,000 miles on newer cars.
An oil change service is referred to
as an "Oil, Lube & Filter," the lube
is a chassis lubrication where the
mechanic applies grease to various
steering and suspension joints
under the car.
Newer cars are manufactured with sealed
joints that don't have grease fittings,
however if any of these parts were
replaced, the new parts probably do
have lubrication points and must
be greased to prevent premature wear.
The best way to
tell when you need
to change your oil is to check it
Fresh good oil is a clear golden
Once oil starts to wear and break
down, it starts to become black
and thick and that causes wear
and tear on the engine.
you use the correct oil weight
for your car and climate.
Power steering fluid:
This check is done by
checking the dipstick.
Use the dipstick to check fluid level in the
same way you would the engine oil.
On newer vehicles, you can
visually check the reservoir.
If you hear weird noises as you steer,
or find it hard to steer,
your power steering fluid may be
Check the antifreeze/coolant level weekly.
Some cars have transparent reservoirs
with level markings.
This check should be done by
radiator cap from the cool engine or reservoir.
Caution: Do not remove
cap when engine is hot.
If a refill is needed, fill with a 50/50 mix of
water and antifreeze.
Antifreeze/coolant is toxic to children
Make sure the engine is off before
checking the battery.
If you are a
Wear rubber gloves, battery acid burns the
skin and clothes, so be careful and if you get
battery acid on yourself or clothes,
Also protect your eyes by wearing Safety
whenever you service your
Visually check the car
(one is marked positive "+" and the other
is marked negative "-").
<< Warning >>
Use extreme caution when handling a
battery since it can produce explosive
Do not smoke, create a spark or
light a match near a battery and
always wear protective glasses
Have it checked with every
Cables should be attached securely
and be free of corrosion.
If battery has filler holes, add only
clear odorless drinking water.
Before cleaning the
removing the battery, disconnect the
negative terminal first whenever
you disconnect the battery cables
from the terminals.
If the battery terminals
don't come off
easily, use a battery puller tool to
take them off.
Do not use a screwdriver to pry the
terminals off, because it can break the
battery post internal connections.
positive connector can cause
a spark, especially if you're using a metal
tool that comes in contact with any
piece of metal on the car.
The spark can create an ignition source
that could cause the battery to explode.
Check battery cables and
posts for corrosion
and clean them if needed.
Most batteries these days don’t require
much in the way of maintenance,
but you should know where it
is and check it to make sure it’s not
leaking and there’s no mineral or
other buildup on the contacts.
If there is, clean it off with a battery
"Check Engine" Light is On:
If the Check Engine light comes on and
remains on while you are driving, check
to see if you have an emissions or
If the light flashes, check for the problem
as soon as possible, because this is an
indication that there may be a serious
problem and left unchecked, could cause
damage to your car.
Test with a voltmeter, unless your
car has a voltmeter gauge.
Connect the meter leads to the battery
terminals and look for 14 to 16 volts
(engine running, lights and accessories off).
That means the alternator is working
Inspect all lights
turn signals, brake lights and emergency
Replace bulbs if they are burnt out.
Don't forget to also check
all the reflectors.
Keep your lights and reflectors
clean, especially during the winter.
Clear all snow and ice from
"Make Sure They See You."
Studies have shown that using your
headlights during the day can help
reduce accidents significantly.
newer cars are equipped with
standard daytime running lights.
Because a well lit car is a
Always keep the mirrors
lot of accidents happen just because
drivers don't see a car moving from
behind while turning or changing a line.
Check mirrors adjusting before
Be sure your horn works properly,
it can prevent you from a collision in
Inspect wiper blades for cracks, tears,
and windshield contact.
Blades should be replaced at least once a year.
Be sure the wiper arms and springs are in good
shape, and that the blade is held square to the
Replace your windshield wipers when the
view gets streaky.
Wiper blades will also
tend to streak
when they are dirty.
Take a paper towel with some window
cleaner and clean the rubber blade
whenever you clean the windshield.
Don’t wait until you can barely see through
Also, give your windshield a good cleaning
inside and out, if it’s hard to see, the
may be inside, instead of out.
It is important to check
your tires regularly.
The only way to determine proper
tire pressure is to use an accurate
Make sure you check
air while the
tires are cool (when you haven't
Even a short drive can make
tires too hot for accurate pressure
When the tires warm up, the air pressure
rises slightly, and can give a
reading as to the actual tire pressure in
Under inflated tires wastes fuel and over
inflated tires can be hazardous.
Your tires need extra attention during
Colder temperatures will cause tire pressure
to drop about 1 psi for every 10°F drop
in air temperature.
Check tire pressure regularly, especially
after a sharp drop in temperature.
Use the inflation pressure recommended
by the vehicle’s manufacturer, not the maximum
pressure embossed on the tire’s sidewall.
Check the sidewalls for
Don't worry about fine surface cracks.
Regularly inspect your tires for
irregular wear and sidewall bubbles.
Irregular wear is often caused by a
worn or misaligned suspension, or
Sidewall bubbles are caused by a break
in the sidewall and could cause a
Get your tires rotated and balanced, and your
Check with your mechanic about how
often you should do this, so your
tires wear evenly and your car drives
Your tires last much longer by getting them
rotated and balanced.
Your alignment is just as important.
Do the penny
To tell if your tread is worn out is to
insert the edge of a penny into a
groove, hold the penny so the top of
Lincoln’s head is pointing toward the
If the top of Lincoln’s head is still visible,
the tread is too shallow and it’s time for
Remember to check the air pressure
in your spare tire.
Look underneath for loose or broken
exhaust clamps and supports.
Check for holes in muffler or pipes.
Replace rusted or damaged parts.
For more about Mufflers & Exhaust,
click on the link below.
Look for signs of oil
seepage on shock
absorbers, test shock action by
bouncing the car up and down.
The car should stop bouncing when
you step back.
Worn or leaking shocks should be
Always replace shocks and struts
Replacing one or two at a time
can create a balance problem that
could make your car unstable when
braking and accelerating.
For more about Shocks & Struts,
click on the link below.
Check the air filter every other month.
The air filter, along with the other filters
ensures that the vehicle is performing
at it's best.
The filter should be clean, not clogged
Replace it when it's dirty or as part of
You’ll find either four, six, or eight plugs,
depending on how many cylinders
your car has.
Check spark plug wires to make sure
they are not hard or cracked.
Change your spark plugs if they are
worn out or covered in buildup.
Remove the wire to the first spark
Do not remove all of the wires at once.
Your spark plugs are installed in a certain
order, which you need to maintain.
Use a spark plug socket
on your ratchet to remove
the first spark plug.
Install the new spark plug, screwing it in
by hand at first and then tightening it
with a wrench for a snug fit.
Do not over-tighten.
Re-attach the spark plug wire, replace
the other sparks the same way,
one at a time.
If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, ask
your mechanic to check for you.
Check all hoses monthly.
Check for cracks,
frays, leaks and bulges, especially
at the ends where they are attached.
If a hose looks bad, or feels too soft
or too hard, it should be replaced.
Inspect the engine belts regularly, especially
the serpentine belt.
Many older cars have a
belt that handles everything.
This type of belt looks flat on one side
with several ribs on the other side.
You should check the ribbed side for
signs of dry and cracked rubber.
Worn belts will affect the engine performance.
Look for cracks and missing sections
Replace worn, glazed or
Tighten them when more than 1/2" of
slack can be depressed between the
Cars with spring loaded belt tensioners
require no adjustment.
Replace bulging or brittle hoses and
Usually in a
clear reservoir marked with
minimum and maximum lines.
The brake fluid is
also part of a closed
system and should never run low.
This check is done by loosening the top
on the master cylinder and removing
If fluid is needed consult your
owner's manual for correct type and fill to
Check color of fluid, it should be a golden color.
If the fluid appears brown,
it is time to
have the fluid replaced.
If your brakes ever feel a little off,
check the brake fluid first.
Fill if it’s low, but then have the system
checked, there could be a leak or the
brake pads may be wearing.
fluid level will drop slightly
as the brake pads wear out.
This is a normal condition and you
shouldn't worry about it.
If the level drops noticeably over
a short period of time or goes down
to about two thirds full, have your
brakes checked as soon as possible.
Take care when
handling brake fluid.
It can damage the finish of a
For More About Brakes:
Brakes should be inspected at least
twice a year.
The best times are just before summer
and winter to prevent problems
in extreme temperatures.
More Tips &