ARE YOU TAKING THESE IMPORTANT CAR MAINTENANCE STEPS?
April is a great month for spring cleaning—a time to tidy your home, pare down your possessions, and simplify your life in preparation for summer. But while you most likely associate spring cleaning with your property, it’s important to consider another belonging that is probably integral to your daily life: your car! In fact, the Car Care Council of North America—a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating drivers about the importance of regular vehicle maintenance—has designated April as National Car Care Month. Regardless of your car’s age or model, regular maintenance can keep it running reliably and help you save money on costly repairs. National Car Care Month is a good time to ensure that you’re taking these critical steps:
Maintain the right tire pressure.
Properly inflated tires improve a car’s handling, fuel economy, and the lifespan of the tires. Tire pressure is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI), and the optimal number varies from vehicle to vehicle. If you’re unsure what the right PSI is for your car, refer to your owner’s manual or the driver’s side door jamb, where manufacturers often list the recommended PSI. When your car has been parked for at least three hours, use a tire pressure gauge to check the PSI for each tire. This should be done at least monthly. If your tires are under-inflated, use an air compressor (which can be found at most gas stations) to fill them to the recommended PSI. If they are overfilled, you can easily release some air—but never drive on over inflated tires.
Have the tires rotated and alignment checked.
Properly balanced and aligned tires can improve fuel economy and help rotate tires every 5,000 miles, check your owner’s manual for the most accurate number.
Check the engine coolant level.
Your car’s radiator serves as a way to prevent the engine from overheating. However, it needs coolant in order to function, so checking your coolant levels should be part of your routine maintenance. Most cars today have coolant reservoirs that are clearly marked, so it should be easy to tell based on visual inspection whether it’s time for a refill.
Replace windshield wiper blades.
Being able to clearly see out your windshield in any type of weather is essential for safe driving. Unfortunately, windshield wipers tend to wear out more quickly than other components of your car—but the good news is that they are easy to replace. If you notice your windshield getting streaky, or your wipers make a squeaking sound when you use them, it is time to replace the wiper blades. Be sure to purchase a style that is recommended for your car–and don’t forget to thoroughly clean the inside and outside of the windshield on a regular basis!