For a teen or first-time driver, the process of learning to drive and navigate the open road can be incredibly exciting. For parents, however, it can be an intimidating or frustrating experience. To make the situation easier and relieve some stress, Christian Brothers Automotive has created a series of 10 useful lessons every first-time driver should know.
Today, we have reached the end of this informative series. We’ve walked teens through driving practice, buying their first car, obtaining the right insurance and what to do in the event of a roadside breakdown.
Today we’ll focus on extending the life of your new car. These are the services and repairs you need to keep up with so your car can drive newer for a longer period of time.
Here are the 8 most important maintenance services to keep your car in optimal condition:
1. Replace your wiper blades
Unfortunately, windshield wipers won’t last for a long time. Heat tends to degrade rubber more quickly, so the squeegee part of the blade will wear down faster if you live in a state where the summers tend to hit boiling temperatures. This means individuals living in the South need to check their wiper blades more regularly.
Likewise, cars driven in the far north are exposed to more salt and ice than those in the Midwest, so wiper blades will wear down as a result of constantly freezing temperatures. A good rule of thumb is to have your blades replaced every 6-12 months.
You’ll know your car is overdue for a wiper blade replacement when the rain and snow begins smudging and smearing under the blades, rather than being wiped clean. If your blades are due for replacement, call your local Christian Brothers Automotive for a quick and easy fix.
2. Regularly change your oil
Many mechanics refer to motor oil as your car’s lifeblood, and for good reason. Oil lubricates the engine and protects the moving parts from heat and friction. As oil ages and cycles through the engine, it begins breaking down and is unable to effectively do its job. While it’s no longer the common recommendation to schedule an oil change every 3,000 miles, regular oil changes are still a must.
Your owners’ manual will tell you the proper schedule for oil and engine filter replacements. As a car ages, more frequent changes are required. For a clear answer about how often your car needs an oil change, call Christian Brothers Automotive and speak with one of our ASE-certified technicians. Our specialists will tell you the truth about your oil.
3. Keep up with tire rotations, tire air pressure checks and alignment adjustments
Your tires are expensive, and they’re built to last. However, even the best tires will wear down and lose air pressure over time. Ensuring proper tire inflation isn’t just a good idea for tire longevity – it can save your life. Under and over inflated tires are more susceptible to tire blowouts at high speeds, which can be a life-threatening situation.
In addition, improper tire pressure can cause uneven wear and will affect your fuel economy. Likewise, driving regularly will have an adverse affect on your wheel wear. With frequent tire rotations and alignment checks, you can keep your wheels balanced and ensure they’re always wearing evenly. Call today to schedule a tire rotation or alignment adjustment, and the friendly staff at Christian Brothers Automotive will check your tire pressure as well.
4. Check your battery’s charge
Most car batteries will last 3-5 years. However, severe driving habits and harsh temperatures can affect the lifespan of your battery. Once your battery is 3 years old, begin scheduling regular battery charge tests. This test will alert you to a dying battery with enough advanced warning that you can install a new one.
This way, you’ll never be left stranded with a dead battery. In addition to keeping you from being stuck with a dead engine, a healthy battery will help your car run more efficiently. When the engine is receiving enough power, your gas mileage increases and the engine emits fewer chemicals into the atmosphere.
5. Replace worn-down brake pads
As you drive and brake, your brake pads are experiencing a high amount of friction. These pads are all that stands between the braking mechanism and the rotor, and every sudden stop wears heavily on them. Even safe drivers wear down their brake pads over the course of a year.
If the brake pads become too thin, they’ll start grinding against other parts of the car. This can cause serious damage and require expensive repairs. For this reason, it’s vital that you schedule a brake pad replacement at least every year. Keeping your brake pads thick and effective will allow your car to drive safely and protect you during every stop.
6. Regularly replace the air filter
As your engine runs, the air filtration system is cleaning the air of contaminants and debris. Over time, the air filter becomes clogged with waste and pollution, which can harm your engine in two ways. First, a blocked air filter has reduced airflow, which causes the engine to work twice as hard. This causes inefficiencies and can decrease fuel economy.
Second, as contaminants build up, small pieces of dirt, bugs and other debris make their way into the engine and can wear down on the car’s metal parts. This decreases your engine’s lifespan and can require more frequent (and more costly) repairs. Most manufacturers recommend an air filter replacement every 6,000 miles, so a good rule of thumb is to request a replacement with every other oil change.
7. Check hoses and belts regularly
Your engine emits an incredible amount of heat. The car does a good job of controlling this heat and keeping the moving parts from becoming too hot, but the heat will still take its toll over time. One of the most common effects of these high temperatures is dry, cracking belts and hoses. The belts are responsible for moving different elements of the engine, and the hoses carry vital fluids from one part to another.
As these factors become dry and brittle, they begin to crack and break. This can cause serious damage to your engine. Request a belt and hose check with every inspection, and always replace these parts when your technician alerts you to a problem.
8. Replace old spark plugs
Your spark plugs are tiny elements with a big job. As you put your key into the ignition and press the gas, the spark plugs ignite a mixture of fuel and air. This controlled explosion provides energy to the engine and powers the vehicle. Like any electrical element, spark plugs burn out over time.
When one or more spark plugs aren’t functioning, the engine has to work harder, causing inefficiencies. Have the spark plugs regularly inspected and replace any that are dying or completely burnt out. By doing so, your engine will run more smoothly and your vehicle will last longer.
Car maintenance isn’t the most exciting part of learning to drive, but it is one of the most important. Your first car will inevitably face bumps and scratches along the way. However, your vehicle has the potential to last years if you keep up with simple, regular maintenance services.
By following the 8 most important steps listed by Christian Brothers Automotive, your car can run like new for a long time. Just remember, take care of your engine, and drive safe out there!