Regular car maintenance is vital to ensure that your car performs at its optimal level. More importantly, this is to ensure you can drive your car safely. Besides, no one wishes to have their car break down on the road, which is likely to happen if car users do not maintain their car.
So to help you keep track of your car maintenance routines, we share in this article the short-term, long-term and seasonal car check-ups that you should follow.
Short-term car check-ups
Short-term check-ups can usually be done instantly once a month or before travelling on a long-distance trip. Here are among the inspections that you can conduct by yourself.
Oil & coolant levels
Inspect both the oil level (engine oil or gear oil) and the coolant level in your car. Make sure the fluids are at the recommended level especially before you go on a long-distance trip.
Insufficient oil and coolant can damage your engine or cause any unnecessary breakdowns during your journey.
The air filter helps control the air that flows into the engine and prevents debris from slipping in. A good air filter helps extend the longevity of your engine, improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.
You can inspect and clean your car air filter by yourself easily at home. Follow these easy steps to wash the filter:
- Turn off your engine before taking out the air filter
- Move it back and forth in a bucket of water and cleaning solution
- Rinse it clean
- Make sure the filter is completely dry before installing it to avoid damage to your car engine
Refer to your manual if you are unsure of the process.
Tires with incorrect pressure may lead to lower gas mileage and negatively impact your car’s handling. It also reduces the traction of the tire on the road surface. This can result in a blowout, which can be extremely dangerous. Therefore, it is important to check your tire pressure at least once every two weeks.
How do you check your car tire pressure? You would know that the tire pressure is low if the tire feels soft and squishy. If the tire feels rock hard that you are unable to push it down at all, then it is overinflated.
Headlights, turn signals, brake & parking lights
Your car lights such as headlights, turn signal lights, brake lights and parking lights help you stay safe, increase visibility, and signal your car movements to other cars on the road. If any car light is not working, it can create a serious accident.
Hence, it is important for you to ensure the bulbs are working in a good condition. Please have them checked at least once a month.
Oil & oil filter
The engine oil in your vehicle serves to lubricate the many moving parts of your car engine, which are in constant friction. It helps to avoid damage, prevent corrosion, and keep your engine running smoothly.
However, oil can become contaminated over time, turning darker and thicker. Such changes in your oil colour may prevent it from working as it should. It can harm your car by damaging the engine parts, decreasing fuel efficiency, or even triggering an engine breakdown.
Thus, ensure that you get your oil changed following your car manual. You are recommended to change both the oil and oil filter every 6 months or 10,000 kilometres. However, this depends on your car and the type of oil you are using.
Regular car wax can produce a really shiny surface finish and help preserve the clear coat over your car paint. The clear coat protects the paint from corrosive elements, including rain, ultraviolet rays, bird droppings and tree sap, among other contaminants.
It usually lasts between 4 weeks to 5 months depending on the type of wax, product quality and other factors that affect the longevity of car waxes.
Long-term car check-ups
Long-term maintenance is usually done every 30,000 kilometres or once a year, depending on the performance and condition of the car.
Transmission fluid lubricates the internal parts of your engine and dissipates heat. If transmission fluid is low, your car would not generate as much hydraulic pressure, thus leading to gear slippage. This will cause wear and tear on the clutches and other parts of your transmission.
If you spot any clunking or whining sounds, it could mean a problem with your transmission fluid. You are advised to check your transmission fluid when needed to avoid costly transmission damage or replacement.
Transfer case fluid
Note that transfer case fluid is only applicable for 4 wheel drive cars. A transfer case fluid shifts power from the transmission to the axles. You will need to have your transfer case fluid checked according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure it is properly filled and leak-free.
Car coolant fluid, commonly referred to as antifreeze is generally a half-and-half mixture of a form of glycol and water that protects engines from overheating. If your car cooling system is functioning properly, it will effectively reduce the heat produced by the engine and keep everything running smoothly.
Without regular coolant service, the cooling system may not function as it should. As a result, your car engine will be overheated which can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to your engine such as warped heads, blown head gaskets, or even engine failure.
A serpentine belt, also known as a drive belt, is essential to keep your car running by powering peripheral devices such as your alternator, power steering pump and air conditioner compressor. If the belt is worn out, it will cause ticking or rattling noises, poor engine performance and overheating, usually triggering the check engine light.
Inspect the serpentine belt to ensure that it is free of cracks or other wear and tear. Make sure to replace it based on your car manufacturer’s recommendation.
Shocks & struts
Both shocks and struts of your car help stabilise your car and keep the tires in contact with the pavement.
It is risky to go on a long drive with bad shocks and struts as the stability of your car will be compromised. You will experience poor handling, excessive body roll, a wobbly steering wheel and poor traction.
Spark plugs are required to start your car engine. If your spark plugs are not functioning properly, your engine will lose power and will not run at optimal capacity. Therefore, please make sure you are aware of the condition and when to replace them at the appropriate time.
Although the size is small, it is somewhat durable and does not need to be replaced too often. Each vehicle may differ on when the spark plugs should be replaced. Note that your car spark plugs may require replacement if you spot these changes when driving:
- The vehicle feels heavy and sluggish
- Difficult to start the engine especially in the morning
- Uneven engine combustion
- Excessive fuel consumption
- Unstable and shuddering engine
Seasonal car check-ups
Seasonal maintenance refers to the maintenance performed depending on the situation. Usually every 6 months or every year.
Your windscreen wipers are made of rubber, so they naturally wear out after several months of wiping rain and dust from your windscreen. Have them replaced about once every year, or whenever the effectiveness is compromised.
If your car battery is low on power, then the engine will not have the support it needs to power the vehicle. This would only cause a breakdown that leaves you stranded.
Extreme temperatures affect the performance of the battery so regular battery testing will ensure the battery performance. Make sure to perform a battery check the next time you service your car.
Carry out regular car maintenance
Apart from increased safety, your car will also be performing better if you regularly carry out car maintenance. Schedule the short-term, long-term and seasonal car check-ups as we have shared in this article.
Car breakdowns will likely happen if your car is poorly maintained, so do maintain your car regularly. But if it happens that your car breaks down, keep calm. Move your car to a safer lane and dial your insurance hotline for help such as car towing if needed.
Other than carrying out regular car maintenance, you must ensure your car insurance is active at all times. Simply use Bjak to compare up to 15 insurance brands and renew your car insurance online in just 5 minutes. Start by getting your free car insurance quotes online at Bjak.my.