When you are thinking about automotive maintenance, you may think about your owner’s manual and the recommended services listed there. Those do provide a great guide for all the things you can do to keep your vehicle running smoothly, but you may not even have a manual if you purchased your vehicle used. Which automotive maintenance items are most important to the health of your vehicle?
Tires are literally where the rubber meets the road. How long will your tires last? This can vary dramatically, as anyone who has had a flat tire knows too well. Most tires are rated for 40,000-50,000 miles and include built-in wear indicators to alert you that the tread is too thin for safe driving. These indicators are 1/16 inch deep, and when the tire’s tread is even with the indicator, it is time to invest in a new tire. Keeping tires inflated to the correct pounds per square inch (PSI) and properly aligned and balanced can help extend their life.
Another important component of your vehicle that requires regular automotive maintenance is your brake pads. These pads make safe stopping possible and protect more expensive parts like the rotors. Just like with tires, the way you choose to drive your vehicle can greatly influence how long they last. Other factors include how heavy your vehicle is, the condition of your rotors when the pads are installed, and what kind of pads you choose. Brake pads also include built-in wear indicators that cause screeching or scraping when it is time to change them.
Changing your vehicle’s oil is one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest things you can do to keep it happy. Engine oil is vital to having a safe and reliable vehicle. Over time, the heat of the engine and exhaust emissions cause the oil to degrade and become less effective as a lubricant. When you change your oil, also consider changing your engine air filter as needed. Having a clean filter maintains your vehicle’s horsepower and gas mileage.