Americans continue to love the freedom and independence of the car. Keeping your car in go condition requires some regular preventative monthly car maintenance. In this article, we will go over five things you should check or have checked monthly to add miles to the life of your car. These are easy to check, even for the novice driver. Have your owner’s manual handy to make sure you are checking the correct items.
Monthly Car Maintenance Tip #1 Check Your Oil Level
Cars must have proper motor oil levels to function. Being low on oil or running your car beyond 3,000 to 5,000 miles on the same oil can begin to cause unnecessary wear and tear on your engine. Poor oil maintenance can lead to expensive repairs, even engine replacements. In between oil changes, checking your oil level every month is a good way to extend the miles on your car.
Here are the basic steps to check your oil level:
- Locate the oil dip stick
- Gently lift it out
- Wipe it down with a clean cloth
- Re-insert the rod back into the oil reservoir
- Remove it again to check the level at the bottom of the dipstick
***If your vehicle needs more oil, the dipstick markings will let you know
Monthly Car Maintenance Tip #2 Air Filter Maintenance
Most air filters are easy to locate under the hood and inexpensive to replace. Using your owner’s manual, locate the air filter and hold it against a bright light. Seeing a strong light pass through the filter means you have a good filter and do not need an air filter replacement. If you notice lots of debris and dirt within the filter that does not come off with a few taps, it is probably time for a filter change.
Your car engine needs clean sources of air, oil and other fluids to run well. Replacing filters is another monthly task that can help extend the life of your best mechanical friend.
Monthly Car Maintenance Tip #3 Tire Pressure Checks are Paramount for Safe Driving
One of the major causes of accidents in the U.S. is worn tires or tires that have improper inflation. Checking your tire tread wear and air pressure monthly not only ensures a smooth ride, but it also can save you from an accident.
A tried and true tread test is the penny test. Place a penny between several treads of your tires with Lincoln’s head facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head covered on all the treads, then your tires are good. If no part of Lincoln’s head is covered, then it is time for a tire replacement.
As for tire pressure, if the tire light comes on it is time to check inflation. Underinflated and overinflated tires can create unsafe steering problems, so don’t ignore the tire light. Sudden cold weather can cause a little deflation, so if the tire light comes on, adjust the tire pressure as necessary.
Monthly Car Maintenance Tip #4 Brake Fluid Ensures Stopping Ability
A monthly check of your brake fluid between professional oil changes is as simple a process as checking your oil. Using your owner’s manual locate the brake reservoir and remove the dipstick. Wipe down the rod with a cloth, replace it into the reservoir and then remove it again for an accurate reading. At the bottom of the dipstick are level indicators. If needed, add some brake fluid. While you are checking the brake fluid level, take a minute to clean any debris you find from around the cap or upper part of the reservoir.
Monthly Car Maintenance Tip #5 While You are Under the Hood
As you check the fluids, filters and tires, take a moment while the hood is open to check the battery cables and any engine belts you can see. Dead batteries mean being stuck without transportation. Broken belts can mean expensive repairs.
With the battery, you are looking for corrosion that can interfere with the cable connection. Also, check the battery cables for wear and tear. If you notice any bare wires or frayed rubber coating, it might be time for a professional to replace the cables.
Engine belts are built to run for a long time, but not forever. They are subject to wear and tear like all the parts of your vehicle. While you have the hood up, take a quick look at any belts that you can see. If any of the belts have cracks or are starting to fray, a visit to your mechanic might be advised. They can let you know if a belt replacement is necessary.
At the end of the day, quick monthly checks on motor oil, brake fluids and other under-the-hood items can save you from big repair bills and, worse, being stranded. The freedom of a running car comes with the responsibility of taking care of it. Going under the hood each month can mean the difference between a dependable ride or begging for one.