The Ultimate Guide to Car Maintenance

Cars are arguably one of the most complex machinery that people can own, which is why many of us often struggle in performing maintenance for our cars since we don’t know where and what to look for in the hundreds of parts within it. However, with proper knowledge, a beginner will easily be able to know how to properly maintain their vehicle. If you are one of the beginners that want to learn the basics of car maintenance, we are here to make it much easier for you to know all that you need to do about the said activity. Here is the ultimate guide to car maintenance, from the important parts to inspect up to what to do for proper checkups and repairs.

Types of Car Checkups

Before we get into the important parts of the car that should be inspected for maintenance, we would first need to describe the two types of car checkups, as they are important to know in order to understand which parts should be inspected regularly or occasionally.

Short-Term Checkup

Short-Term checkup is the term used to describe the type of checkup that should be performed regularly, which means that you would have to take a look at specific parts of your car at least once a week or month for proper maintenance. Skipping short-term checkups could lead to problems with your vehicle, as the parts inspected during this type of checkup are the ones that are related to the car’s movement and cooling features.

Long-Term Checkup

Long-term checkup is the type of checkup that is typically done once every six months, so most of the parts that are inspected through this checkup are either more durable than the other parts or are just not as important compared to the ones inspected during short-term checkups. However, even though the long-term checkup parts are not as essential compared to the short-term checkup parts, it doesn’t mean that long-term checkups should be skipped.

Parts to be Inspected for Short-Term Checkups

As previously stated, the parts needed to be inspected for short-term checkups are the ones that are the most important for the vehicle’s movement and cooling. So, they would need to be inspected regularly so that you can easily find problems on them before you take your car out on a long road trip. Here are the parts to be inspected for short-term checkups.

Brakes

Brakes are a set of parts that allows your vehicle to stop when you need it to. So, without it, you wouldn’t be able to stop your car from moving or slow it down, which could be the catalyst to accidents on the road. It is important to check the brakes regularly to ensure that it is working properly without any damages or dents. You can perform manual checkups on brakes on your own, but we wouldn’t recommend it if you are a beginner. It would be better to bring your car to your local auto service center for proper inspection.

Lights

Lights for cars are not only used for drivers to see the road at night, but it is also utilized to signal to other drivers where you are going. The headlights are the ones for seeing where you are driving on dark roads, while the turn signals and parking lights are usually turned on to signal if you are going left, right, or parking. Make sure that all of the lights of your vehicle are working properly by turning them on before you drive the car. If one of the lights is busted, then it would be best to replace the lights on that first before you hit the road. But, we recommend contacting your local car mechanic to replace the lights for you.

Air Filter

The air filter of a vehicle would determine how clean the air flows into the engine, so if it is faulty, there is a chance that dust and debris could get into the engine and cause damage. It is essential to clean the car’s air filter regularly, as it not only protects your engine against harmful particles but it is also crucial for fuel efficiency and decreased emissions that will lengthen the lifespan of the engine. Cleaning the air filter by yourself is relatively easy, as you can just watch video tutorials online on how to clean it. However, if you are going to an auto service center to inspect other parts of your vehicle, it would be great if you can also ask the center to clean the vehicle’s air filter.

Parts to be Inspected for Long-Term Checkups

a car mechanic inspecting the engine of a car

These parts are not as fragile as the ones inspected for short-term checkups, but they are still important in the overall performance of your car. Here are the parts to be inspected for long-term checkups.

Shocks and Struts

Shocks and struts are responsible for absorbing the impact between the wheels and the road, so having them on your car allows you to have a smoother and more comfortable time driving. Faulty shocks and struts would force your body to experience aches due to the impact of the vehicle against the road, and the motion caused by the lack of shock-absorption can also minimize your control over the vehicle’s movements. Do some inspections on the shocks and struts of your at least once or twice a year to ensure that these parts are still functioning.

Transmission Fluid and Motor Oil

These two types of liquid should also be inspected during long-term checkups, as they are the ones that will allow the engine and the transmission to work smoothly. Checking if the transmission fluid and motor oil have not evaporated should be performed after 3 to 6 months of use, and skipping the inspection on them would lead to damages that can be irreparable or too costly.  If the transmission fluid starts to smell burnt or has a much darker color than before, then that would be a sign for you to change it with a new bottle.

Spark Plug

Without the spark plug, you wouldn’t really be able to start your car. So, inspecting its connection to the engine is also essential to have a properly working vehicle. Spark plugs also determine how much power the engine receives from the get-go, so a faulty spark plug may not provide optimal performance for your car. If the spark plug of the car is damaged, you should contact an auto repair center so that you can get it replaced immediately.

Other Important Reminders for Car Maintenance

Besides checkups, there are also some routine activities that you should perform to improve the longevity of your vehicle and make it function better on the road.

Wax the Vehicle Regularly

Most car owners forget to wax their vehicle regularly, and this neglect could result in the car not looking as shiny and as pristine as when it was bought brand new. Many harmful elements can change the appearance of your vehicle, as dust particles and sand can often cause minimal to noticeable scratches on your car’s paint job. By applying wax on the car at least once every two months, you will be able to prevent these harmful particles from sticking to your car while also keeping the paint job shiny.

Change Tires Frequently

The secret to having durable tires is not found in the material used for them but in how frequently you change or rotate them in a year. You should have two or three sets of wheels ready in your garage so that you can easily replace the tires you are using on your car. Rotate the tires of the vehicle frequently, preferably once every three months, in order to prolong their life and keep their threads intact.

Those are just the basics of car maintenance that you should know about as a beginner. Of course, if you don’t have prior experience in maintaining your car, we recommended that you just visit and consult a local car mechanic to perform both short-term and long-term checkups instead of doing them on your own.