Like anything, cars require maintenance. And while taking your car into an auto body shop for inspections is important, there are things you can do year round to extend your vehicle’s life and to catch problems while they are small. If vehicles are left without any routine maintenance, the chances of an issue becoming costly or even risky increase.
Some people say that they don’t know enough about cars to even know where to begin. But you don’t have to be an experienced vehicle technician to perform basic maintenance on your car. Here are the top essential car care tips from your friendly Vancouver auto body shop.
Check your tires
In a place like Vancouver where the temperature swings drastically between seasons, it’s a good idea to do regular tire checks. First, use a gauge to check the air pressure in your tires to make sure they are full — low tires can increase your fuel cost and create dangerous driving conditions if the roads are wet.
Next, check the tread depth either by using a tread depth gauge or by using the “coin trick.” To do this, take a toonie and slip it between the tread blocks. If the rubber reaches past the polar bear paws, you have plenty of tread left. If the tread covers the silver part of the coin, the tires have some life left, but if the rubber only reaches to the outer lettering, it’s probably time to replace your tires.
Finally, run your hand around the outside of the tire to check for bulges. If you find a bulge in your tire, it might not be safe to drive.
Check your brakes, too
Checking your brakes can be done in several ways. First, have a listen next time you’re out driving. If your brakes are squealing, that’s a warning sign in the design of your brakes telling you that they need replacing.
Then look at the wheels and take note of brake dust. Brake dust is normal so when your brakes begin to wear out completely, the amount of dust on the wheels usually decreases. Then take a look at the thickness of your brake pads. If they are less than ¼ inch, they might be in need of replacing.
One final tip is to take note of how much your steering wheel vibrates when you brake while driving. A lot of vibration can be a sign of needing new brake pads. It goes without saying that well functioning brakes are an essential part of safe driving.
Maintain your wiper blades, defroster & heater
Vancouver’s wet weather makes this step extra important. Having functioning wiper blades is essential in a rainy city, and if you find that they are wearing down and leaving streaks in your line of vision, try wiping them with a soft cloth dabbed in rubbing alcohol compound. If that doesn’t help it is time to replace them.
Your car’s HVAC system needs to perform to keep you and other drivers and pedestrians safe. Your defrost functions should melt frost buildup efficiently and your heater should warm the car up after a few minutes.
If there is moisture buildup when you get into your car in the morning, you can check to make sure the seals around the windows haven’t broken down. Also take a look at your air filters every so often — you’ll be able to see if they need replacing by how dirty they are.
Keep it clean
Take your car through the car wash regularly to prevent mould and mildew from building up. Regular washes will also help prevent rust and will serve to keep the paint from breaking down from things like tree sap or bird droppings. Keep a towel in the car to dry the nooks and crannies after a wash. And don’t forget to vacuum every now and again to keep the interior dirt and grime free.
As you can see, these are simple steps to take, yet they will help keep your car in good condition, saving you money in the long run by preventing problems and by helping hold its value.