Regular Fluid Checkups and Routine Maintenance Can Save You Thousands

Your car has been with you for years now. It was the first thing that got you out of bed every morning. 

Every time you thought the most simple thing was wrong with it or heard a noise, you took it in for maintenance. As time goes on, most owners become a little more laidback with their vehicle’s maintenance. Some people can be outright neglectful. 

Did you know that simple routine maintenance and fluid checkups can end up saving you thousands of dollars over the life of your car? In this article, we’ll explain what goes into routine maintenance, its benefits, and how you go about this process. 

There are many reasons why you should maintain your vehicle regularly, but one reason stands out above others – money! Regular servicing will help extend the life of your car and keep it running smoothly. 

The average cost of getting something fixed in a mechanic’s shop averages around $400 or more. If you’re like most people, you have less than $150 spare per month right now. 

That means if you want to avoid breaking the bank when purchasing a new car, then you need to do some research and find ways to lower the amount spent on repairs.

In this article, we’ll discuss exactly what these routine services entail, how much money they can potentially save you, and finally, how to perform them yourself.

What Is a Car’s Routine Service Maintenance? 

The first question that comes up when someone mentions routine service is usually “what does routine service include?” The answer is simple: everything, including checking the fluids. 

While it may seem unnecessary to perform these checks so often, the truth is that having fluid leaks and other simple problems isn’t good for your engine’s health. Plus, routine maintenance saves you thousands and your entire vehicle as a whole if you catch certain problems quickly enough. 

To prevent any damage from occurring, you should also consider performing a fluid check once every two months. A fluid check involves examining all of the reservoirs to ensure none of the fluids need to be filled. 

You should also go around the vehicle and do an all-points inspection checking for leaks. Sometimes they aren’t as noticeable as you think and can take some searching until you spot them. 

When looking for leaks, don’t forget about brake pads, belts, hoses, tires (including tire pressure), windshield wiper blades, exhaust system, and even the battery. These are just a few examples of the various components included in a fluid check.

If you notice any leaks during a fluid check, make sure you have them repaired immediately. If you wait too long, you run the risk of causing serious damage to your motor or other parts of your car. 

What’s Included In Routine Service Maintenance?

Although the term “routine service maintenance” sounds vague, the actual list of items performed should give you an idea of what’s being done. For example, here’s what a typical service includes:

  • Oil & Filter Change
  • Check spark plugs
  • Replace air filter
  • Clean radiator/cooling fan assembly
  • Change transmission dipstick
  • Check wheel bearings
  • Check drive belt/power steering pump pulley
  • Clean fuel injector screen
  • Test tailpipe emissions test kit
  • Check power assisted seat adjustment mechanisms
  • Align front stabilizer bar mounts
  • Fluid top off
  • Air pressure testing

This is far from a complete list. However, it shows you the general idea behind routine service. Depending on which country you live in, there might be slight differences in what each region uses as standard practice. However, the majority of cars share similar features.

What Fluids Should You Be Checking On Your Car?

As mentioned before, performing a fluid check on your vehicle gives you the chance to catch leaks early. By doing so, you can minimize the chances of causing damage to your car. After identifying leaks, you can choose whether you’d prefer to fix them yourself or let a professional handle them.

One of the most common questions regarding this topic is, “What fluids should I check on my car?” To answer this question, think of your car as a machine. Like machines, car engines require certain fluids to function properly. 

Without these fluids, your engine wouldn’t work correctly and would likely break down prematurely. Therefore, your priority is finding and fixing leaks in these essential systems. Let’s go over the different types of fluids below.

Engine Oil

First things first, it’s important to know that three separate oils are used in modern vehicles. They are crankcase oil, automatic transmission oil, and hydraulic oil. Crankcase oil lubricates your pistons, while automatic transmission oil provides lubrication for your gears. Hydraulic oil helps operate your braking and suspension systems.

All fluids must remain within manufacturer specifications. Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your engine. Not only does faulty oil cause poor performance, but it can also result in catastrophic damage such as overheating, smoke coming from the engine compartment, and severe vibrations.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid is responsible for providing lubrication for your transmission and protects your gearbox from wear and tear caused by friction. 

As well, it keeps your transmission operating properly and efficiently without skipping a beat. With transmission fluid, your car will feel sluggish and feel like it’s bucking or shifting hard. Additionally, it can damage your transmission seals and cause leaks.

Belts And Belted Systems

Belts play a huge role in keeping your car moving along smoothly. They ensure your wheels turn freely and allow your engine to receive the proper amount of power. Most importantly, belts protect your engine from heat.

Your engine would quickly burn out without a belt due to insufficient cooling. But, if a belt becomes damaged or frayed, it can lead to your car stalling out, air conditioner failure, and your power steering and other elements will stop working. 

Additionally, a broken belt can cause major damage to your car’s electrical system. So, always replace frayed belts with brand new ones, especially if they are old and cracked.

Wheels And Tires

Are you tired of getting bad gas mileage or having your car feeling like it’s shaking? Or even worse, are you tired of constantly repairing blowouts or flat tires? You probably need to perform better maintenance checks on your tires. 

Most manufacturers recommend changing your tires according to their schedule. Typically, you can expect to get new tires every six months or 12,000 miles. Some companies provide free replacement options, but others charge extra. Regardless, you shouldn’t skip these checks unless your treads are severely worn down.

However, some people’s definition of severely worn down and another’s is completely different. We’ve seen people riding tires until the steel is hanging down. This isn’t severely worn down; this is near non-functioning. 

To properly check the tread on your tires, pull a dime out of your pocket and place it upside down between the treads with the heads facing out. If the tread doesn’t touch the top of the head, you need new tires. 

Exhaust System

You wouldn’t believe how often people overlook their exhaust system. Unless you keep track of the mileage on your car, it can be difficult to tell when it needs a tuneup. Exhaust parts can easily become corroded, rusted, and clogged after several years of use.

So, how can you tell if your exhaust system is working properly? 

Two main indicators show if your system requires attention. One indicator is the strong smell of burnt gasoline. Another sign is excessive noise coming out of the muffler. 

If you suspect your exhaust system is malfunctioning, contact your local dealer or auto repair center to schedule a quick inspection.

Battery

Like batteries in our smartphones, car batteries lose energy over time. Batteries typically last four years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. 

Unfortunately, some drivers neglect to check their battery until it dies completely. If you’ve noticed any warning signs such as slow charging, dead cells, uneven discharge, or excessive corrosion, you should bring your car in for an inspection.

Your battery is charged by the alternator when your vehicle is running. If you find your battery dying often but aren’t leaving the lights on, it’s likely a problem with the alternator, and it may need to be replaced. 

While your battery doesn’t directly affect your car’s performance, it does play a crucial part in powering numerous electronic devices. Therefore, ignoring it could compromise your safety.

Benefits of Routine Service Maintenance

Now you know what routine service entails and how it benefits you. Having said that, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered. Below is a summary of the reasons why you should perform routine service:

Extends the Life Of Your Vehicle

Routine service ensures that your car runs smoothly for longer periods. Since you’ll be inspecting and maintaining your car’s vital systems on a consistent basis, you’ll eliminate the possibility of critical failures occurring.

Save Money On Repair Costs

By keeping your car serviced on a regular basis, you can save money on parts, labor, and insurance premiums. Although some people claim that routine service isn’t necessary, the truth is that it extends the longevity of your vehicle. As a result, you won’t have to waste money on more substantial repairs.

Keep Your Warranty Valid

Performing routine service maintains the warranty on your car. This allows you to enjoy extended coverage under the terms and conditions outlined by the manufacturer.

It’s worth mentioning that although a lot of motorists ignore the importance of routine service, it’s one of the most beneficial processes you can provide for your car. Some experts say that performing routine service prevents 90% of breakdowns. 

Furthermore, a study conducted by Consumer Reports found that owning a well-maintained car results in approximately $8,000 savings over the course of its lifetime compared to a poorly maintained vehicle.

With all the benefits mentioned above, there’s no doubt that routine service is worthwhile.

As a bonus, we’ve included a quick how-to for performing a routine service inspection on your vehicle and fluids. 

Quick Maintenance Check

Follow this guide to perform your own maintenance. 

What You’ll Need

These are some of the tools you’ll need: 

  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Voltage tester
  • Rag
  • Necessary fluids
  • Air compressor

The Process

Follow these steps for your quick inspection:

  • Pop your hood. Check all of the fluids, including the transmission fluid, oil, power steering, brake fluid, and washer fluid. Your car engine should be cool when checking the oil and warm when checking the transmission. 
  • Use the voltage tester to check your battery and alternator. If everything looks good, start the engine and have someone help you check the lights and turn signal markers. 
  • Go to every tire and check the pressure with the gauge. On the side of the tire, you’ll find the recommended PSI to which they should be filled. Ensure every tire hits this mark. For good measure, go a few pounds over to compensate for any leakage after you get going. 
  • Check the tread on your tires using the dime trick we mentioned earlier. Remember, if the tread DOESN’T touch the bottom of the head, you need new tires ASAP. 

Written by Strut Daddy's

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