No matter what type of vehicle you drive, whether it is a car, truck or SUV, there are certain maintenance and vehicle services that commonly are overlooked by regular everyday drivers. The longer you drive your vehicle, wear and tear from bumpy roads and short commutes can accelerate the degradation of your vehicle and shorten its maintenance intervals.
In order to preserve your transportation asset so you can have it for a long time, you should be aware of the top five common maintenance items that are often overlooked by busy drivers. In this article, we will discuss the five most commonly missed vehicle maintenance items as well as reasons why they should not be overlooked.
Tires are very important because they are the part of your vehicle which connects you to the roadway. Tires have a shelf life for mileage as well as an expiration date for time which can vary depending on the location you are in. As your tires get older, they may start to wear or become louder or even lose traction. If your tires are subjected to more extreme weather, such as heat or ice, your tires shelf life will be lower than tires which reside in a more even-keeled climate. It is important to inspect your tires regularly, or have a professional do so, to ensure that your travels will be without any road incidents.
When inspecting the tires on your vehicle, it is important to look for any cracks, gouges, or irregular wear patterns that may exist and replace any tires that are needed. Tires can be replaced one by one, in pairs, or a full set depending on the vehicle and existing tire conditions. As always it is important to have your tires professionally mounted and balanced to ensure smooth travels. A four wheel alignment is also a service of good measure to make sure your car tracks straight and does not prematurely wear your treads.
Brakes are another essential component of a vehicle that often goes overlooked. Most commonly located inside the wheel of your car, your vehicle’s brakes should be inspected regularly for wear and pad thickness. Vehicle brakes on modern vehicles are typically of disc rotor and pad design but some vehicles have drum brakes in the back. Unlike disc brakes, drum brakes use “shoes” instead of “pads” to push outward on the brake drum. Drum brakes are an older design that can be found slightly harder to maintain but are sometimes just as effective for stopping as disc brakes.
Like tires, severe climates can sometimes negatively impact your vehicle’s braking components so your vehicle’s brakes should be inspected annually for items like corrosion and cracking from heat and stress. Any brake components that are compromised should be replaced when needed as they are safety items that should not be overlooked. Severe driving patterns as well as speed and excessive brake use can also wear your brakes out faster. The brake fluid should also be flushed and replaced as recommended by the manufacturer to ensure your fluid is free from any other liquid, air, or contaminants.
Cleaning and detailing your vehicle is important for both its appearance and its longevity. A clean vehicle not only looks better but will also perform better. When you clean your vehicle’s outside, including polishing and waxing the paint, you actually help to reduce your vehicle’s coefficient of friction by allowing the vehicle to smoothly cut through the air around it. Cleaning your vehicle can, in fact, improve its efficiency and fuel mileage by allowing it to be more aerodynamic. Regularly washing and waxing your vehicle will also help to preserve and protect the paint from UV damage, and environmental fallout like brake dust and other synthetic and organic matter.
Car washes are one easy way you can keep your vehicle clean; however, over time, car washes can scratch your vehicle’s paint and leave it looking hazy and dull. To bring your vehicle’s clear coat back to life, multiple stages of paint correction can help to polish your vehicle’s paint back to life. After your vehicle’s paint is cut, compounded, and polished, a coat of wax or sealant will help to preserve your work and your vehicle’s finish. In addition to vehicle waxes, there are so many coating technologies available today with materials like ceramic and teflon, which are very consumer friendly.
With so many vehicle cleaning products on the market to choose from, some are as simple as wipe on and wipe off. While Mr. Miyagi may approve of this method, it is also important to note that regular vacuuming and shampooing will help to keep your vehicle’s interior looking new. Compressed air, if available, can also be an effective way of cleaning out your vehicle’s interior. Simply remove all the items inside, open your doors, and blow everything out. This method works great for all vehicles but especially those which are extremely dirty or dusty. Remember, any and all unnecessary weight removed from your vehicle
Belt services are also a commonly overlooked maintenance item, but they are essential for keeping your vehicle running smoothly. The serpentine belt is one that most vehicles have and should be inspected regularly for wear and tear. Serpentine belts work to connect all of your vehicle’s pulley driven components together and drive them off of the rotation of your engine’s crankshaft pulley. Overtime, these types of rubber and silica based belts can degrade, crack and weaken. Warning signs may be a loud or squealing belt, or a belt that chirps with the rotation of your engine.
A snapped serpentine belt can leave you on the road stranded and it should always be replaced as needed. Another commonly overlooked engine belt service is the timing belt. Many new vehicles have switched to timing chains for longevity but timing belts have shorter maintenance intervals than chains and should also be replaced as recommended by the manufacturer’s time and mileage limits. If you have a belt driven engine and your timing belt snaps while it is running, it can serve catastrophic damage to your engine. If your engine is an interference engine and the timing belt snaps, your engine’s valve train and pistons can come in contact with each other, which will essentially grenade your engine. Replace those belts sooner than later!
Fluid services are another vital part of vehicle maintenance that can commonly be overlooked. All of the fluids in your vehicle, including the engine oil, transmission fluid, differential, brake, coolant, and power steering fluid, should be checked regularly and changed as needed. Depending on how and where the vehicle is used will also dictate the frequency of these types of maintenance services.
While many oil manufacturers are offering oils they state can last up to 10,000 miles, your vehicle will always run better and last longer with more frequent oil changes. The remaining fluid in your vehicle should be replaced according to your vehicle’s service manual, which will vary depending on manufacturer and model. As fluids age, they can sometimes degrade and break down, rendering their chemical qualities less effective. Ensuring fresh fluids will keep your car, truck, or SUV running smoothly for years to come.