The Importance of Vehicle Maintenance

Properly maintaining your vehicle will not only ensure its safety and dependability, but may also increase fuel efficiency. According to the Car Care Council, performing simple and inexpensive maintenance may save as much as $1,200 a year in gasoline cost.

Vehicle "tune-up" used to be associated with the routine replacement of key ignition system parts like spark plugs and ignition points, along with basic engine adjustments. Today, spark plugs can last up to 100,000 miles, there are no points to replace, carburetors to rebuild and you can't adjust the engine's timing.

Vehicle engines are now equipped with sophisticated electronic ignition and fuel systems, using one or more onboard computers to control critical engine and transmission management functions.

The Car Care Council estimates more than $60 billion in vehicle maintenance is not performed every year. Properly maintaining your vehicle will not only ensure its safety and dependability, but may also increase fuel efficiency as well as help maintain your vehicle's value. It is recommended to consult your vehicle's owners manual and follow its preventive vehicle maintenance schedule. It is also recommended to have the following inspected:

  • Battery, charging and starting
  • Engine mechanical
  • Powertrain control (including onboard diagnostic checks)
  • Fuel
  • Ignition
  • Emissions

strongPreventive Maintenance*

strongOil Change – The standard rule is to have your engine's oil changed every 3,000 miles or every 3 months, including a filter change. Depending on your vehicle's driving conditions, the oil change can be extended to up to 7,500 miles. Some newer cars have sensors that alert you when it is time for an oil change.

strongBrakes – A good rule of thumb is to check the brakes at the 6,000 to 7,500 mile mark (when tires should be rotated). An unusual noise or a gentle tug on the steering wheel when stopping are also common warning signs it is time to check the brakes.

strongCoolant System – Check the coolant reservoir monthly (as well as the windshield washer reservoir) and top off as needed. Thoroughly flush coolant systems and replace with the appropriate antifreeze at least every two years to minimize metal deterioration and to keep the system flowing.

strongBattery – On the average, a car's battery will last approximately 3 to 5 years. As part of your vehicle's regular maintenance, ask your mechanic to make sure the battery cover is in place and the battery is firmly anchored. Clean the battery of corrosion, especially the electrical posts. Corrosion in the battery terminals may prevent your vehicle from starting.

*Source: Road and Travel Magazine.

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