While driving can certainly be a source of pleasure, cars have really become a life necessity for many people. To keep your vehicle running and limit disruptions from breakdowns, maintenance is key. That being said, all cars tend to run down over time.
To combat wear and tear, you should stay informed on the various systems that make up your vehicle. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to have your car regularly inspected, maintained, and repaired by qualified and skilled technicians. By staying organized and having your vehicle systems checked at least once a year, you’ll get the best out of your ride.
Brakes have critically important jobs in terms of controlling vehicles and keeping occupants safe. The brake system is made up of many different components that must work together. Some of the major parts include the rotors, pistons, calipers, pads, brake lines, fluid, and internal control systems.
Brake pads come in many different varieties, including ceramic, sintered, and hybrid. Depending on the type of brake pad and the amount of mileage put on the vehicle, these parts may need service and maintenance sooner than other brake system components. That’s why vehicle owners should have their brake pads checked at least seasonally for any issues.
The brake rotors are solid and durable components that can last for many years. That being said, if owners allow their brake pads to deteriorate, then the rotors may suffer damage. Barring this occurrence, most vehicle owners can get good service from the rotors if they have them regularly checked.
Other critical components include the fluid and brake lines. Much like the rotors, the brake lines are solidly built parts that can go long periods without maintenance. Since lines are often located under the vehicle, they may occasionally suffer damage from roadways. Because they serve such crucial jobs, drivers should have their brake lines checked seasonally or as needed.
The brake fluid itself should also undergo regular checks. Under normal circumstances, it should be free of any contaminants such as water or other fluids. Brake fluid should also be free of air bubbles or other contaminants that can compromise its ability to resist compressional forces. It’s best to check the fluid at the same time that other key brake system parts receive maintenance.
The engine cooling system has a critical job to do in terms of keeping engine temperatures within certain ranges. If these temperatures become too high, the motor can sustain near-catastrophic damage. Some of the components that help keep this from happening are the radiator core, thermostat, radiator cap, and overflow reservoir.
Radiators tend to be well-built components that last a lifetime on some vehicles. Nevertheless, they can easily sustain internal or external damages. Over time, radiators can also become clogged and lose efficiency. Because of these factors, vehicle owners should have their radiators checked for physical damage and inspected for blockages or other issues before seasonal weather changes set in. As drivers have their radiator cores checked, they should also have skilled technicians inspect their thermometers, cooling fluid, radiator caps, and overflow reservoirs.
Car exhaust systems help collect and channel waste gases away from the engine. They also process these materials before elimination to minimize contaminants. Plus, well-maintained exhaust systems help eliminate loud internal engine sounds. As such, keeping components like the engine manifold, catalytic converter, mufflers, and pipes strong and rust-free is a must. Drivers should strive to have their exhaust systems checked for visible signs of damage during seasonal suspension checks.
Modern vehicles include a variety of logic systems. These systems are powered by networks of computers that run the many hardware and software systems found in modern vehicles. Keeping these systems in top condition is tantamount to keeping occupants healthy and vehicular operations at a premium. Thus, vehicle owners need to have qualified technicians use specialized software to check their logic systems at least annually.
Keeping vehicle occupants safe and sound during trips is the main goal of any car. That’s why many vehicles include various types of protective and safety technologies. Included in this list are important items such as seat belts, airbags, safety glass, child seats, and warning systems.
In many areas, government entities require vehicle owners to have their cars inspected for roadworthiness. These annual inspections are good times to have safety systems checked through and through. Also, drivers who notice malfunctions in any of their safety or protective systems should immediately have their vehicles inspected by qualified technicians.
The automotive electrical system helps supply various devices with electrical power. The anchor of the system is the vehicle battery itself, and it’s responsible for supplying cranking voltage to get the engine running. When engines are off, the battery also supports a variety of electrical components such as radios and lights. Furthermore, many modern fully electric or hybrid vehicles can run entirely on battery power. Because of this fact, it’s of prime importance for owners of both hybrid and conventional vehicles to keep their batteries strong and healthy.
Even though many modern conventional batteries are sealed and require little maintenance, owners should have them checked as part of preventive maintenance at least twice a year. Conventional vehicles also often use alternators that resupply batteries with electrical power. These components, as well as any connective wires and fusing systems, should be checked during preventative maintenance visits.
Fully electrical or hybrid vehicles generally use very large batteries that put out significant amounts of power. These specialized systems often require factory- or dealership-trained technicians using specialized equipment to diagnose and maintain them. Therefore, owners of such hybrid or electric vehicles can often benefit from the services of their local dealerships.
Many modern vehicle safety and control systems use a variety of sensors to predict possible accidents or to operate autonomous technologies. Such sensors may include microwave emitters, vehicular radars, ultrasound transmitters, and more. These sensors often support deeper technologies, and keeping them clear and free from damage allows other vehicle systems to operate at prime efficiency. Due to their importance, these sensor systems should be checked at least seasonally.
Your tires form the four points of contact between the vehicle and the road. This makes it especially important to keep them in good condition. The treads of the tires come in direct contact with roadways, and to maintain proper traction, these features need to have sufficiently deep grooves. In addition, tire sidewalls can be subject to trauma from contact with potholes and curbs. Thankfully, trained tire techs can spot hazardous issues and take corrective action.
Many modern vehicles also have digital controls in the form of tire pressure or condition monitoring systems. Technicians can use specialized computer interfaces and related software to calibrate the systems and correct any defects in hardware or software.
Good tires are useless without sound suspension systems. Drivers should make plans to have their suspensions checked and serviced at least once a year. Some common services include alignment, balancing, rotation, spring checks, strut and shock absorber checks, and motor mount evaluations.
Vehicles that have proper alignments drive straight down roadways and have no pull to one side or the other. On the other hand, vehicles that have gone out of alignment tend to pull in one direction. Over time, this poor alignment can seriously damage suspension components. By having their vehicles aligned annually, drivers can control factors such as toe-in, camber, and caster.
Tire rotation is another powerful method for keeping suspension members and tires in good shape. This involves systematically moving tires from one axle to another. By doing this properly and on schedule, vehicle owners can keep tire wear to a minimum and traction even.
Lubricating System Checks
Keeping the oil in good shape is tantamount to keeping the engine components younger. If you want to get a full life out of your engine, have your oil system periodically checked by a professional. For newer vehicles, this means getting a service check every 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Older vehicles should get an oil change every 3,000 miles.
Even though certain vehicles are rated for many miles between checks, drivers who regularly cover long distances may wish to have their systems evaluated on more frequent time schedules. Some common oil system components include the filter, oil sump, and lubrication passages within motors.
The Importance of Annual Maintenance
For most major parts and systems, a yearly maintenance check should be sufficient. It may be easiest to have a professional mechanic check everything at one time. In the interim, however, it’s important to keep an eye out for warning signs, such as squealing brake pads, check-engine lights, and alignment issues. Plus, every driver should perform simple maintenance tasks, such as checking the coolant, tire pressure, and oil levels, on their own about once every three months.