How often should I change my oil? Do I really need to flush my power steering fluid? Does my fuel system need to be cleaned every 3000 miles? All of these questions can be answered by creating a car maintenance schedule for your family’s vehicles. But where do you start? What is most important? How do you make sure you are not neglecting your vehicle, but also not spending money fixing things that aren’t broken?
The best place to start with while creating a car maintenance schedule is the owner’s manual of your vehicle. If you’ve got a newer vehicle you might be lucky enough to still have your owner’s manual. If you bought a used vehicle, you can try checking in your glove compartment, or your center console. Over the course of a few years, or a few owners, these manuals can easily get lost or destroyed. If your manual is lost or destroyed, you may consider stopping by your local dealership to pick one up. If you don’t mind doing things digitally, many manufacturers now post their vehicle’s owner’s manuals on their websites so you may consider checking there.
In your vehicle’s owner’s manual, it will lay the groundwork for your vehicle’s maintenance schedule. You’ll probably notice some of the usual suspects like changing your engine oil, your transmission fluid, and your tire pressures. You will also probably find a surprisingly long list of the things that need to be “checked” or “inspected”.
These checks or inspections can seem like a hassle or waste of time, but in reality, they are the best way to make sure bigger problems aren’t sneaking up on you. For example, checking your tire pressure regularly can help you identify slow leaks in your tires. If you find a slow leak early, you often can get it patched or plugged saving that tire. If you let a slow leak go, you can end up with a flat tire, or even a blowout on the highway.
One of the most debated aspects of any car maintenance schedule is how often you should get your oil changed. Some oil manufacturers say every 3,000 miles, some vehicle’s maintenance schedules only require an oil change every 20,000 miles. The reason this is such a highly debated topic is because there is no one right answer for how often you should change your engine oil. The length of time your engine oil can adequately perform its job depends on so many different factors like your driving habits, the outdoor temperature, what you use your vehicle for, not to mention the type of oil and filter you use. Some extremely high end oil companies will allow you to send in samples of your oil to have them scientifically tested to help you determine if it’s time to change it yet.
For the rest of us, the best indication you have to help you determine if it’s time to change your oil is the color. It’s important to change your oil at least once a year, no matter how few miles you drive. For most of us, once per year will not be often enough to keep your engine safe, and the color of the oil is the best and easiest test. You can get a small sample of your oil by pulling out your engine oil dipstick. If you wipe the oil off of the dipstick onto a clean white rag or paper towel it will give you a consistent background to inspect the oil color on. Your engine oil will start off a very light golden color when you first have it changed. As it fills up with wear products and debris, it will get darker and darker. When your oil is a medium brown, it’s time to get it changed. If you let your oil turn dark brown or black, you are probably starting to do minor engine damage.
The other thing to look for while you’re checking your engine oil color is the oil level. Besides changing your engine oil, keeping the level in the optimal range is the best way to protect your engine. If you discover a low oil level during one of your routine checks, add BlueDevil Oil Stop Leak to your engine oil, then top it off with the correct weight oil.
You can purchase BlueDevil Oil Stop leak at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:
- Advance Auto Parts
- Bennett Auto Supply
- CarQuest Auto parts
- NAPA Auto Parts
- O’Reilly Auto Parts
- Pep Boys
- Fast Track
- Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
- S&E Quick Lube Distributer
- DYK Automotive
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