Keeping your car on the road takes continuing effort. This is especially true in a place like O’Fallon, Illinois, where variable weather and rough road conditions take a toll on every vehicle. Along with routine inspections and watching for warning lights, there are a few items of preventative maintenance you can do annually to keep your car in great shape and running smoothly.
Oil pumps through your car’s engine and keeps all the parts lubricated and functioning. If you ever run out of oil, or if the oil you have is allowed to get old and thick, your car’s moving parts can start to rub against each other every time you start up the motor. This generates a lot of heat, and it eventually causes serious problems with wear. An unlubricated engine can even seize up on you at the worst time.
Most cars need an oil change every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. Some newer cars need an oil change every 5,000 miles. Check your car's owners' manual for the recommended mileage, and never skip an appointment. If you don't have the manual, or if you're not sure how many miles your car is good for before its next oil change, go ahead and schedule at least one oil change appointment a year. Regular oil changes are the simplest way to prevent major breakdowns on the road, and keeping to the manual's schedule saves a world of trouble later on.
Tires wear down faster than any other part of your vehicle. Road surfaces in O’Fallon, IL, are not especially forgiving on rubber treads, since frequent winter ice and salt tend to stiffen and crack the surface of most tires. Every set of tires has a recommended limit for how many miles it can last, and heavy use degrades tires faster than the average. Don’t ride on tires that are past their expiration, and periodically take a look at the treads and walls of the tires to make sure they haven’t worn down too much and there’s no belt showing through.
When you come in for an annual tire inspection, the technicians will generally balance and rotate your tires for you. Tires don’t wear down evenly, which leads to misalignment and potentially hazardous conditions for your wheels. By periodically inspecting, balancing and rotating your tires, you can help the tires wear more evenly and get more use out of them. This is also typically the time when a brake technician examines your rotors, shoes and pads for signs of wear and replaces them if necessary.
Your car has a lot of fluids sloshing around in it. Not just oil, but transmission fluid, brake fluid and coolant are all vital to keeping things running smoothly. Your car also probably has windshield wiper fluid and coolant in the air conditioning system that have to be changed out or replenished from time to time. Older models of battery also need to be topped off with water to keep up their charge.
When you take your car in for annual service, it is common to flush out all of these fluids and replace them up to the fill line on their reservoirs. Fresh coolant/antifreeze in the radiator helps your engine maintain the ideal temperature while it’s running. Brake fluid changes help get the air out of the system and ensure the smooth operation of the brakes. Fresh fluid in the transmission helps your car shift through gears with a minimum of wear and tear that could otherwise damage the delicate gears and force you to replace the transmission early.
The timing belt does vital work in the depths of your car's motor. Properly tensioned, it keeps the valves and pistons from crashing into each other and causing extremely serious damage. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to visually inspect the timing belt in most models of car and truck, since it's tucked away behind several other engine components. This is why the inspection and replacement of the timing belt are treated as a major piece of preventative maintenance. It's very important, however, and the time and cost of an early timing belt replacement are generally much less than the trouble of repairing a damaged engine. Your technician can also take advantage of the open engine compartment to switch out your old water pump, idler arm, and tensioner.
Annual preventative maintenance on your car is one of the most important things you can do to keep it on the road. Even if everything seems fine on the vehicle, it’s still a good idea to get the car in at least once a year to have a professional technician take a look at some of the harder to reach parts for safety’s sake. If you own a car anywhere in the O’Fallon, IL, area, call Full Circle Auto Service at (618) 624-2272 to set up your next annual maintenance appointment, and keep your car running great.