Category Archives: car maintenance wi

young man adding oil and checking engine air filter

4 Car Fluids You Should Care About

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If you want to keep your car running properly (and avoid breakdowns), you need to worry about your car fluids. Checking and changing car fluids is an important part of your car running (and running well). Before you head out, check these four car fluids for a smooth trip (and a lot more trips over the years).

Oil

Oil is listed first in the list of car fluids simply because it SO IMPORTANT. Motor oil lubricates the engine, allowing engine parts to run with minimal friction.  Oil also absorbs heat from the engine and reduces the wear and tear on engine parts. If you want to keep your car’s motor running, you need to regularly schedule oil changes. How often you need an oil change (and what kind of engine oil to use) depends on the year and model of car.

Modern cars don’t always need oil changes every 3-5,000 miles, but the exact number of miles varies. You can find the oil viscosity and number of miles recommended between changes in the owner’s manual (or ask your mechanic).

In addition to regular oil changes, add an oil level check to your list of regular car maintenance. Plan on checking the oil level at least once a month. A regular check is important to make sure there is enough oil in the engine at all times. Low engine oil can lead to premature part wear and engine overheating. Here’s how to check the oil level:

  1. Turn off your engine and grab a paper towel.
  2. Open the hood of your car and locate the dipstick.
  3. Pull the dipstick out and wipe off the end with the paper towel.
  4. Put the dipstick back in and pull it out again.
  5. Closely look at the lines on the end of the dipstick. Make sure your oil level is between the two lines (and not above the max line).
  6. If your oil level is low, add oil.
  7. Make sure you added enough by checking the oil again when you are done.

If you find your oil level is low at every oil level check, mention it to your mechanic at your next appointment. A low oil level can indicate an oil leak or another issue.

Coolant

Coolant is another car fluid that prevents overheating. This car fluid does exactly what the name implies: it cools the car. The coolant level is easy to check:

  1. Stop the car. Wait until the car cools to check the coolant.
  2. Open the hood.
  3. Locate the coolant resoivoir.
  4. Make sure the coolant level is at the max line on the side of the tank.
  5. Add coolant as needed (again, DO NOT do this right after stopping the car).

Water can also be added to the coolant reservoir, but it’s usually recommended that the water be combined with coolant. The exact ratio of the water-to-coolant mixture can usually be found on the coolant container.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is not as easy to check as motor oil and coolant. You can find directions for a do-it-yourself project here or ask your mechanic to check it at your next appointment. The fluid should be red when you check the transmission fluid. Brown transmission fluid (or another darker fluid) usually indicates that the transmission fluid is breaking down. To find out how often your car needs a transmission fluid, ask your mechanic or check your car manual.

Most importantly, don’t miss scheduled transmission fluid changes. Transmission fluid is important for smooth gear changes and proper lubrication. Schedule a regular transmission fluid change (every 30-100,000 miles) to help prevent transmission breakdowns.

Windshield Washer

Windshield washer may not be an important part of a running car, but it is incredibly important during a rain or snow storm. Instead of waiting until windshield washer is out, add windshield washer fluid regularly so you have it when you need it. To change windshield washer:

  1. Stop the car.
  2. Open the hood.
  3. Find the windshield washer reservoir.
  4. Fill the reservoir with windshield washer.

As long as you’re checking the windshield washer level, inspect your windshield wipers for wear and tear. If they are in bad shape, replace your windshield wipers before you need it during a particularly bad snow or rain storm.

young man stranded by overheating car

The Lazy Car Owner’s Car Maintenance Checklist (By Mileage)

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Your car needs regular vehicle maintenance to ensure that your car stays on the road longer and with less breakdowns. Regular battery checks keep you from being stranded with a dead battery. Regular transmission flushes protect against premature transmission failures. The list of vehicle maintenance and benefits from maintaining a car maintenance schedule can go on and on.

You can find a complete car maintenance checklist in your vehicle owner’s manual, but who has time for that? If you’re a car owner who doesn’t, this car maintenance schedule can help keep your car running better and longer. A well-maintained vehicle is also easier to sell and can bring you a higher resale price. Contact (and get to know) a local trusted mechanic who can keep your car on the road and the boxes checked off on your car maintenance checklist.

Car Maintenance Every 3,000 miles

___Use tire pressure gauge to check tire pressure & fill up as needed

___Check oil level

___Inspect windshield washer

___Turn on headlights and tail lights to see if there are any burned out bulbs

___ Check transmission fluid level

___ Inspect vehicle belts and hoses for rips, wear and tear

___ Examine car battery and cables for corrosion and damage

___Check tire tread for amount of tread (every 3,000 miles and more often as the tires wear)

___ Change the oil (every 3-10,000 miles depending on the type of oil and auto manufacturer recommendations)

Every 15-30,000 miles

___Replace the cabin air filter

___ Purchase a new air filter (If the vehicle is driven on dusty roads, the air filter should be replaced every 15,000 miles.)

Every 30,000 miles

___ Have new tires mounted and balanced (every 30-60,000 miles depending on the type of tires, amount of miles driven, and amount of tire tread)

___ Replace spark plugs (every 30-100,000 miles depending on the spark plug specifications, earlier if these signs of worn spark plugs are present)

___ Flush the power steering fluid (every 30-100,000 fluid, have the system inspected if fluid level is low)

___ Replace vehicle brakes (approximately every 25-70,000 miles, earlier if there are any signs of worn brakes)

___ Inspect the fuel pump

Every 50-60,000 miles

___Flush the automatic transmission fluid (every 50-150,000 miles, earlier if the transmission fluid is dark red or brown)

___ Replace the battery (typically every 3-5 years, earlier if the battery show signs of a failing battery)

___ Replace the fuel pump (every 60-90,000 miles depending on condition)

Your Complete Car Maintenance Checklist

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car getting oil change in need of part replacementWant your car to last a long time? Regular maintenance is an important part of keeping your car on the road and reaching “high mileage beauty” status. If you don’t have the time (or expertise) to keep up with regular car checks and maintenance, finding a mechanic you can trust can be just as vital for getting as many miles as possible out of your vehicle. Once you’ve found that mechanic, schedule regular car appointments (and allocate time as needed for do-it-yourself checks) to keep up with your car maintenance checklist.

Regular Car Checks

___Check tire pressure

___Check oil level

___Check windshield washer

___Check headlights and tail lights

___Check transmission fluid (every 3,000 miles)

___Check belts and hoses (every 3,000 miles)

___Check battery and cables (every 3,000 miles)

___Check tire tread for amount of tread and signs of unbalanced car (every 3,000 miles and more often as the tires wear)

Replacement Schedule

___ Oil Change (Change oil every 3-10,000 miles depending on the auto manufacturer recommendations.)

___Cabin Air Filter (Replace every 15-30,000 miles or once a year. Check the owner’s manual for their recommendation.)

___ Air Filter (Replace every 15-30,000 miles depending on driving conditions. If you drive through dusty areas, your air filter is going to need to be replaced every 15,000 miles.)

___ Brakes (Replace every 25-70,000 miles. The exact mileage depends on the type of brakes, driving style, type of vehicle, and amount of braking. Watch for these signs of brake failure and ask your mechanic to check them at every oil change.)

___ Tires (Replace every 30-60,000 miles depending on the type of tires and amount of miles driven)

___ Spark plugs (Replace every 30-100,000 miles depending on the kind of spark plugs)

___Power Steering Fluid (Flush every 30-100,000 fluid. Have the system checked if the fluid is low)

___Automatic Transmission Fluid (Replace every 50-150,000 miles. Check the transmission fluid for condition and consult the owner’s manual to determine exact mileage for replacement.)

___ Battery (Replace every 3-5 years)

___Fuel Pump (Replace every 60-90,000 miles depending on condition. Check it every 30,000 miles.)

Your replacement schedule may be slightly different, depending on the amount of miles and kind of driving you do. For a customized maintenance list for your vehicle, ask your mechanic for their recommendations and follow their schedule closely.