Keep Your Car Running Smoothly


Regardless if you have a brand new car or a used vehicle, your maintenance choices can significantly affect its lifespan. People depend on cars for transportation, and for many, vehicles are one of their biggest investments. Keeping these vehicles in the best condition possible is vital for peace of mind.

"Routine car maintenance is an important factor in keeping your car performing well, while also helping to prevent surprise car repairs," according the Road & Travel Magazine.

Here is a checklist for how to tend to the exterior and interior of your car so it will operate smoothly.

1. Take care of the engine

One of the most important tasks is to regularly take in your car for an oil change service, or do it yourself. Road & Travel also suggests examining the engine for dirt and grime, as "an engine runs hotter and may overheat if it is dirty," and checking the engine belt for cracks. To keep your engine clean, select a gasoline with a high count of cleaning agents. With regular use, a quality fuel "can clean up deposits left by low-detergency gasolines and keep critical engine parts - specifically intake valves and fuel injectors - clean," the magazine states.

2. Replace failing parts swiftly

If a part of your vehicle isn't functioning properly but isn't fixed, it can cause subsequent damage that often is more detrimental and costly to fix. For example, it is easier to change your air filters regularly than to address engine problems caused by dirt and grit getting inside. Parts that might need replacing include belts; spark-plugs and spark-plug wires; windshield wipers; exterior and interior lights, including dashboard indicator lights; and hoses. For more information on when to address various car parts, check out the Car Care Council's Service Interval Schedule.

3. Transmission TLC

Getting your transmission fixed or replaced can be expensive, but your preventative measures may help preserve the equipment. The automatic transmission fluid should stay at the proper level, and be changed every so often - along with the filter - to keep the self-shifting gearboxes supplied with fresh, clean fluid.

4. Maintain your brakes

Obviously, functioning brakes are crucial to safely operating a car. You should change rotors, pads and linings when they get worn down. As noted above, failure to do so quickly can cause further damage to your brake system. If you hear strange noises when you're putting your foot on or taking it off the pedal, visit a professional mechanic.

5. Tend to the tires

Every so often, and especially before long trips, check your tire pressure. Maintaining the inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer is critical for proper traction and stability. Don't forget about your spare tire, as well. Also, rotate the tires to increase how many miles they will travel safely. As your tread gets worn, there are tools to determine if you've entered the danger zone. Many tire stores will measure your tread free of charge and inform you if you've reached dangerously low levels.

6. Miscellaneous maintenance

Check your battery for corrosion or dirt, which could cause the battery to drain electricity and eventually fail, according to the Road & Travel Magazine. Make sure cables and terminals are securely attached on the battery, as well. Other important fluids to replenish or change periodically include your brake fluid, windshield washer fluid, coolant and power-steering fluid. Be on the lookout for a trend of random oily spots in areas you consistently park, as that might indicate your engine oil or automotive fluid is leaking. Unusual smells also are strong indicators some part of the vehicle requires attention.

Do you need new parts or the help of a certified technician to examine your car? Brown's Sales and Leasing, located in Guttenberg, Iowa, has a qualified staff that is happy to serve all of Northeast Iowa and the surrounding cities including Dubuque; the Quad Cities; Cedar Rapids; Manchester; the Waterloo-Cedar Falls metropolitan area; and Prairie Du Chien, Wis.