New Year’s Resolutions and Best Intentions
The new year has rung in around the world, and so have billions of resolutions. Some – or many – have already been broken. If you’re like many people, car care might not always be your number one priority. You know how important it is, but you’re busy, things are hectic. The car is running fine and that oil change ends up waiting a few extra days… or weeks. But maybe that clunking sound has not magically gone away, and you stress about it every time you drive. Or, every time you accelerate the car pulls to one side. The engine light has been on for two weeks now. The windshield wipers smear more than clear and haven’t been replaced in what? A year? But who’s got time?
One resolution you might want to consider is taking (better) care of your car. This might seem like a big commitment, but it’s pretty simple, actually – especially when you consider how much you rely on your car every day. And taking care of your car is actually taking care of yourself. At AAMCO we believe in total car care because it does really mean so much more than just your car.
A regular maintenance schedule is a good way to keep yourself on track to making that resolution a natural way of things. Whether you follow the recommended schedule in your owner’s manual, or create your own, a schedule of some of basic car maintenance items will make things easier to plan and accomplish.
You’re tired of hearing how important oil changes are to the long, happy life of your car. And with today’s advanced engines and enhanced kinds of oil, newer cars require less frequent oil changes. But that doesn’t mean you can neglect the need for good, clean oil in your engine on a regularly scheduled – manufacturer recommended – basis. Make this one a priority and consider combining it with the next item on your car maintenance resolution list.
Along with the oil, there are many other fluids that are vital to your car’s smooth, reliable operation. A few of these are:
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Windshield wiper fluid
Ignore any of these for too long and you’ll find yourself wishing for the year to be over. Even something as innocuous as windshield wiper fluid, if left unchecked, will run out and leave you stranded with road crud and dirt smeared across your windshield.
If you let the transmission fluid get low, you’ll experience some pretty unmistakable signs. Whining and clunking, accompanied by grinding and shaking might be among the symptoms. A burning smell and the transmission just refusing to go into gear are sure signs your transmission fluid is low, or all gone.
Antifreeze not only runs through the engine and is processed through the radiator to keep your engine cool, it prevents water from freezing up. Antifreeze also protects the engine from corrosion, facilitates heat dissipation, and prevents scale from building up inside the radiator.
Windshield wiper fluid is easy, so start with that as the “fluid” part of your car maintenance resolution – just be sure not to forget the others. Windshield wiper fluid can mean the difference between being stranded at the side of the road with a dried crud-covered windshield, or being able to spray and wipe it away as you head happily home.
Check your tires from time to time. Tread wear can sneak up and suddenly you’ve got a flat when you least need it (who needs a flat, ever?). Even worse, you could get a blowout – and if that occurs at high speed, you’re facing an extremely dangerous situation. All of this can be exacerbated by improper inflation, so buy a tire gauge, consult the manufacturer’s recommended inflation, and do it right.
Another situation that could arise is poor traction on dry roads – possibly hydroplaning in rain – and no traction in snow or other slick weather conditions. Insufficient tread depth can lead to some serious safety hazards while driving. Check the tread depth with the penny test. Insert a penny into the grooves of the tire’s tread, preferably one of the drive tires. With Lincoln’s head facing down, if you can see the top of his head, your tires are at 2/32 of an inch or less of tread – it’s time for new tires.
Pay Attention to Trouble Signs
It’s not unnatural to just want to do the old ostrich thing and stick your head in the sand when your car starts making a strange sound, or a vibration suddenly makes your ride a little less enjoyable. The thought of taking the time to go to a mechanic (or even just finding one) can seem inconvenient, or even overwhelming – especially if money is on your mind. But consider what might happen if you don’t get that noise or shaking investigated by a trustworthy mechanic. It will turn into something bigger and possibly leave you stranded, and you could be out a lot more money than if you had just had it looked at when it started.
Check Engine Light
If you resolve to do anything for your car in 2017, resolve to pay attention to the check engine light. When the check engine light comes on, that is your car telling you it really needs your attention. That little alert could be a friendly reminder to change the oil, or a warning that the transmission is about to overheat. These days the check engine light means that one of the many computers in the car is sending signals and generating a trouble code. If you get a check engine light, bring your car to a local Colorado AAMCO auto repair center for a complete AAMCO multi-point inspection and diagnostics services.