Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance March 1, 2018

5 Preventative Car Maintenance Tips

Taking extra measures to extend the longevity of your vehicle will help you get more value out of it.  Plus, it can prevent costly repairs or replacements down the line.

Think of that heavy-duty phone case and screen protector for your smartphone – it prolongs your phone’s usable life and protects it from damage. The same concept applies to preventative car maintenance. A number of steps can and should be taken to extend the longevity of a vehicle and prevent expensive repairs.

We want to get the most mileage for our dollar (pun intended), and your car can last years longer with the right regularly-scheduled maintenance. We’ve broken down the five most important preventative car maintenance tips you need to know.

5 Preventative Car Maintenance Tips:

1. Oil & Other Fluids

Most drivers are very familiar with the first, but what about the “and other”? Motor oil is not the only important lubricant in your car that you need to change regularly.

While there are differing schools of thought on how often to change your motor oil, it’s important to reference your car owner’s manual. Our Virginia Tire & Auto associates will tell you the correct answer and recommend what the manufacturer recommends. Not replacing your engine oil can lead to a domino effect of problems, making your repair bill much more expensive than the original bill for an oil change would’ve been.

Now for the “other” category: we’re talking about power steering fluid, transmission fluid and brake fluid.

  • Power steering fluid: Most cars on the road have power steering and it will simply stop working without the proper lubrication. Average replacement is every 2 years.
  • Transmission fluid: It’s important to note that this fluid isn’t checked as part of the annual Virginia State inspection, but it ensures that automatic cars shift between gears with ease. Otherwise, your car uses metal shavings and debris as a lubricant.
  • Brake fluid: We stand by the belief that brakes are the most important safety feature in a vehicle, and the lubricating fluid should be replaced every 2 years or 24,000 miles.

All of these fluids are checked during our 25-point inspection. While manufacturer recommendations provide keen insight into your vehicle’s maintenance needs, all of these fluid replacement times depend on driving style and conditions. We check these with every service and will let you know when you really need them.

2. Filters

Yes, that’s plural. Most drivers know of the engine air filter, which is checked during all state inspections. But there’s also the cabin air filter that should be checked and cleaned frequently.  The cabin air filter is more for the comfort of your ride, but is nonetheless important in the efficiency and effectiveness of your heating and air conditioning fans within the car.

Engine air filters impact the air going into the engine, thus making the engine work harder or easier. These are typically replaced every 30,000 miles, but it depends on the type of air you live in. For example, a commute of dirt roads, or a tree-heavy region can increase the frequency you should replace it.

*Filters are also checked during our 25-point inspection.

3. Brake Pads

You know that high-pitched squeaking noise that your brakes make when the pads start wearing too thin? Think of that as a warning bell – otherwise known as a wear indicator. The metal tab built into the pad is designed to let you know that the pad is too thin. Does it get any clearer than your car telling you that the pads need to be replaced?

Jason Mikolowski, store manager at our Cascades location, said brake pad replacement is the most common issue drivers  bring in to the shop. Jason explained the domino effect of not replacing brake pads: once you’ve been driving with thin brake pads, you’re impairing the disc rotor, which then needs to be replaced in addition to pads. If you go even further beyond that initial squeal, you’re impacting other brake components and you’re looking at a full brake replacement.

When you bring your car in to Virginia Tire & Auto for a 25-point inspection, we’ll make sure we check the health of your brake pads.

4. Spark Plugs

While spark plugs don’t need to be replaced very often (most manufacturers recommend every 30,000 miles), they play such an important role in your vehicle that it’s important to pay attention to signs that you may need new ones.

Spark plugs give your car the spark it needs to start and run smoothly. Misfiring spark plugs could result in too much gas entering the exhaust system, resulting in higher temperatures and a melting or warping of converter parts. Worn spark plugs can slowly deteriorate your engine and ignition with each subsequent start. Knowing when yours were last replaced will inevitably increase the longevity of your vehicle and the parts that make it run.

5. Timing Belt

This car part doesn’t often come up in average shop talk, but it’s extremely important to replace it as part of preventative maintenance on your car.  This one belt impacts a number of other areas: your engine, alternator, power steering pump and air conditioner.  

This part may be our most obvious preventative maintenance tip because it impacts so many parts of the car and can result in serious damage if neglected. An overused timing belt can result in engine failure, valve damage, camshaft or cylinder damage and potentially piston damage. It’s common to replace this part every 70,000 to 110,000 miles, but it’s best to check your owner’s  manual.

These five preventative maintenance tips are the most important to extend the longevity of your vehicle and avoid costly damage. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the average age of a U.S. car is now 11.4 years, up from 8.4 years 20 years ago. This means drivers are looking to get more mileage out of their vehicles.

In addition to keeping cars on the road longer, the compounded cost of purchasing a new car has many drivers looking to purchase used vehicles. Thus, many drivers are at the mercy of their car’s previous owner, making those pre-purchase vehicle inspections a must.

Want to get more mileage out of your car?

At Virginia Tire & Auto, we want you to get the most bang for your buck, in the longevity of your vehicle and in maintenance and repair costs. Stop in one of our locations to see what you need, then get in the habit of scheduled maintenance at Virginia Tire & Auto.

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