The major goals of preventive maintenance are to keep your vehicle from breaking down on the road, to catch minor problems before they become major expenses, to prevent premature wear and tear by keeping parts from wearing each other away, and by removing objects that could damage your vehicle’s interior and its occupants, and to safeguard warranties and guarantees on your vehicle and its parts. The tips in this chapter tell you what you need to do and refer you to more information in this book that will keep your vehicle running better and longer.
Change the Oil Frequently and Regularly
changes, but I believe that the most important thing you can do to extend the life of your vehicle is to change the oil every 5,000 miles or six months, whichever comes first, and as frequently as every 3,000 miles if you drive mostly in stop-and-go traffic or on dusty or wet roads. helps you decide how often to change your oil and provides instructions for doing that job. It can be easier than cooking dinner!
Do a Monthly Under-the-Hood Check
you take 15 minutes to do the under-the-hood check-in you can prevent 70 percent of the reasons your vehicle might break down on the road! At least be sure to check the following fluid levels once a month: oil, coolant, automatic transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Refill or replace these fluids as necessary.
Check the Tire Inflation and Alignment
Underinflated tires wear out faster, create excessive heat, increase fuel consumption, and make your vehicle more difficult to handle. Tires that aren’t properly balanced or that are out of alignment wear out rapidly, increase wear and tear on the steering and suspension systems, and may take you for a bumpy or unsafe ride. Check the air pressure in your tires and look for signs of wear and misalignment at least once a month and before every long trip. shows you how easy this is to do.
Keep the Interior Clean
The cleaner you keep the interior of your vehicle, the longer the upholstery and carpets will remain in good condition. Remove the mats and vacuum them along with the upholstery, headliner, and carpeting when they start to get dirty or every time you wash your vehicle. Wipe up spills and get rid of stains as they occur, before they have a chance to set and become permanent.
If it’s too late to prevent stains, consult a stain-removal guide for the ways to avoid making the stain bigger or permanent. Use an odor remover to keep the interior of your vehicle smelling fresh. offers advice for cleaning your vehicle’s interior and dealing with nasty stains and odors.
Keep trash and personal effects in receptacles, and keep kids’ toys stashed in a box that fits snugly on the floor behind the front seat. If you have to stop short, these things can become lethal projectiles. Unsecured objects on the floor or under the driver’s seat can wedge under brake and accelerator pedals.