Whether you recently purchased a new vehicle or you plan on driving your current vehicle “into the ground” as they say, it is never too late to start keeping up a regular maintenance schedule. Most vehicles on the road today are well built vehicles that can be very reliable if they are taken care of properly. Many vehicles end up breaking down, or suffering catastrophic damage to high dollar components like the engine or transmission not because they are a lemon, but because an easily preventable problem went overlooked for a little too long and caused bigger problems. For most vehicles, the only time they get any sort of inspection is during an oil change. Depending on where you get your oil changed that may not even happen.
Being reactionary in your maintenance and just waiting for something to break is an expensive way to maintain your vehicle and may leave you stranded. However, it would also be very expensive to drop by your mechanic’s shop every week just for them to take a quick look at your car and make sure everything is ok. Also, as your vehicle gets more and more miles on it and gets older your risk for issues increases.
This is the first of a 3 part series describing a routine maintenance schedule you should keep for your vehicle to make sure you catch problems early while they are easy to fix and to prevent more damage. There are some checks you need to do more often than others so this article will address things to check every week, the next will include monthly checks and the 3rd article will be about 6 month checks. If you are driving a brand new vehicle off the dealer’s lot some of the checks may not need to be done as frequently, but if your vehicle is nearing 100,000 miles or is over 6 years old, these checks should be done at our recommended intervals.
Believe it or not, a lot can change in a week. When it comes to your car, the most important part is the engine. Making sure the engine in your vehicle is safe and happy is one of the best ways to keep your car running well for years to come. The life blood of your engine is the oil in it. Checking your oil weekly is the most important weekly inspection you can make. If your engine develops a leak your oil level can drop very quickly without you noticing any puddles or leaks. A low oil level in your engine will lead to damage to bearings, piston rings, the timing gears and chain, your camshaft and valve lifters and other expensive and difficult to replace parts. Most engines today will run for many miles as long as you keep the proper oil level. Checking your oil weekly is also a great time to look at the color of it and check to see if it’s time for an oil change. We recommend getting your oil changed every 3000 miles if you use conventional oil and every 5000 with synthetic oils. Keeping fresh oil in your vehicle will make sure you engine is protected from wear and heat. Every time you get your oil changed, make sure you document the mileage for your next oil change and stick to it! Oil changes are better early than late.
Once per week you should also do a quick inspection underneath your vehicle. This can be done during a car wash, in the mornings before you jump in, or right when you pull in the driveway after work. You don’t need to pull out the creeper and get personal, just a quick walk around your car will help you see any leaks that may have developed, notice a tire that is going flat because it is getting pudgy and see any new dings or dents. This 30 second walk around is a great way to check up on your vehicle and make sure everything still looks like it did last week.
Last, once per week take time to listen to your vehicle. Preferable from a cold start in the morning, start driving with the radio off and a window open if it’s not too cold out. When you start your car, what does it sound like? Does it start as usual or take a few more cranks, or crank slowly? These could be indications that your battery is getting near the end of its life. Once you are driving watch your gauges. Does the temperature gauge come up smoothly or does it jump from cold to hot quickly? Are the other gauges like oil pressure and voltage in their normal range? Have any warning lights come on since last week? While you are driving try to do a variety of stop and go, low speed driving, tight corners and highway driving. Listen for clunks, clanks or grinding as your stop and start at stop signs. Listen for the same noises as you go around sharp corners or turn from a stop. When you are at speed feel for vibrations in the steering wheel and floor boards, listen for whining or humming coming from any of the 4 wheels and make sure the car is driving straight and not wandering.
If anything seems significantly different than it did last week you can visit our blog here: https://gobdp.com/blog/ and ask the BlueDevil Pro a question about it!
Subscribe to our blog today so you don’t miss the next two articles on monthly and every 6 months maintenance items not to miss on your vehicle!
Pictures provided by: www.oreillyautoparts.com and www.samarins.com