Looking forward to your next trip to the garage? Didn’t think so. Coughing up cash to fix problems with your car is one of those necessary evils that we all try to avoid. Often we pay up more than we need to just to get it over with. Although there really isn’t any way to completely prevent car problems, there are active steps you can take to minimize issues and thereby minimize outlay. Here’s a list of checks and balances you can take for car maintenance to catch problems as early as possible and avoid paying too much to fix bigger problems later.
You should generally be checking fluid levels in your car. For a car up to five years old, check about once a month. For a car up to ten years old, check levels every other week. All fluid levels should be to within one liter of the max. If something is not, have it checked out. While you have the hood up, check for anything that looks amiss – oil slicks near the engine, and so on. Make sure the alternator belt has no tears.
Pay attention in general to any strange noises coming from your car – whistling sounds, grinding, banging. Grinding is usually an indication of a worn-out brake pads. Other noises may indicate motor or engine issues. Sometimes the problem is unusual. Whatever it is, check it out. If a sound points to an engine problem, you might be saving your car from the junkyard by having it looked into early. A hissing noise might be a hose leak. That one’s easy to spot – if you hear it, check immediately for leaking water. If seen, get the hose changed.
If you notice any strange smells, that’s another potential alert. Sometimes you smell something and can’t tell if it’s in the car or coming from outside. Well, if it continues to smell through every place you’re going, there’s a good chance it’s in your car.
Finally, you know all of those lights that light up when you get into the car? Every so often, one of them stays lit. That’s an obvious problem, and of course if that happens, take your car straight to the garage. The check oil light and check engine light are of particular importance. They could actually mean nothing at all, but they could also mean that your car might stall on the road, a situation we’d all like to avoid.
The pitfalls of not getting your car checked out soon enough are definitely worse than the annoyance of bringing your car in to get checked. Sometimes, it’s just worth it.