5 New Year’s Resolutions For Your Car – 2023
Before we start, we recommend you create a monthly calendar reminder to ensure you’re keeping up with 2023 resolutions for your car.
1. Monitor all Vehicle Fluid Levels – Top Off if Necessary – Monthly
- Engine oil:
Inspecting the level of your engine oil is typically part of a multi-point inspection if you were to bring your vehicle in for service. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the location of the engine oil dipstick and follow the instruction on how to check the engine oil level. Perform this check when the engine is cold. Once you remove the dipstick, there should be two lines across the bottom of the dipstick, a high and low fluid mark. The oil level should be in-between the two marks. If fluid levels are below the low mark on the dipstick, add small amounts of oil checking the fluid level after each pour. The owner’s manual will indicate the engine oil type to use (i.e. 5W 30).
For vehicles with high mileage, you will want to check the oil more frequently as high mileage vehicles may burn oil. Keep a watchful eye on oil levels and change your oil according to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance intervals which are located in your owner’s manual.
- Windshield Washer Fluid:
If you reside in cold weather climates or plan on visiting one, monitor your windshield washer and headlight washer fluid levels. Top off if necessary with the correct type of washer fluid based on outside temperatures and weather condition severity. There are brands of windshield fluid that claim to melt ice & frost fast, down to 0° F, but for most drivers, off-the-shelve windshield fluid should suffice.
- Power Steering Fluid
Most vehicles today have power steering based on a hydraulic system. If your vehicle has this type of system, it’s important to inspect the levels of power steering fluid. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the location of the power steering fluid reservoir and how to check fluid levels. Power steering fluid inspection is also part of a multi-point inspection. Check with your local auto parts store or online to match your vehicle with the correct fluid type. There are many brands and types of power steering fluids. Original Equipment (OE) certified fluids are always recommended. Top off your power steering fluid as necessary.
- Brake Fluid:
Brake fluid levels can decrease over time as brake pads wear to a point where pads need to be replaced or you have a leak. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the location of the brake master cylinder reservoir. It’s typically located on the drivers side inside the engine compartment. Older vehicles have a metal reservoir with a top that can be turned counter-clockwise or a metal clamp holding down the cover. Newer vehicles have a translucent reservoir where you can see the actual fluid level and a marking where proper fluid levels should be. If the fluid level is below the appropriate lines, add brake fluid. If fluid level is below the “Add” line, have a certified mechanic inspect your brake system, to include brake pads.
There are many types of brake fluid (DOT 3, DOT 4, DOT 5, DOT 5.1). Check your owners manual or ask your local auto parts store to find the type of brake fluid the original equipment (OE) manufacturer recommends. Never use DOT 5 fluid in a vehicle that uses DOT 3 or DOT 4. You can use DOT 4 in a car that uses DOT 3.
- Coolant / Antifreeze Fluid:
Before we get into checking levels of your coolant, you’ll want to perform this task on a vehicle that has cooled down. Coolant gets extremely hot and can cause burns. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the location of the radiator cap which is typically located behind the front grill. Newer vehicles have a clear reservoir tank with high and low indicator lines on the outside of the tank. If you have a reservoir tank, you will want to add coolant to this tank and not the radiator itself. It’s important to note, not all coolant fluids are the same. Check with your owners manual for the correct type of fluid. Add the appropriate amount of fluid so coolant levels fall between the high and low marks on the reservoir tank.
- Transmission Fluid:
Similar to checking engine oil levels, you’ll want to check your transmission fluid too. This applies to vehicles with automatic transmissions and non-sealed systems typically found on foreign vehicles like Mercedes Benz and BMW. For the aforementioned, you’ll have a mechanic check on fluid levels when you bring your vehicle in for your next oil change. For all other vehicles, you can check fluid levels yourself. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual for the location of the automatic transmission dipstick and how to check transmission fluid levels. You’ll want to check fluid levels when the vehicle is warm and you’ve cycled through some of the gears.
2. Change Your Engine Oil and Oil Filter – based on Total Miles Traveled
To extend the lifespan of your vehicle’s engine and prevent a catastrophic engine component failure, you must have your engine oil changed according to the vehicle’s recommended maintenance intervals. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual to determine at what mileage intervals to change engine oil and oil filter.
3. Check Tire Air Pressure – Monthly
Tire pressure fluctuates with a change in outside temperature, therefore it’s important to constantly check tire air pressure. Inside the vehicle’s driver’s door you will find a label indicating recommended tire pressure (PSI) for your vehicle. Get yourself a tire gauge from your local auto parts store if you don’t already have one. Tires that are not inflated properly will result in uneven wear and decrease the lifespan of your tires. Also, not properly inflated tires may result in lower gas mileage and impact handling, especially in severe road conditions (rain, snow and ice). Refer to your owner’s manual on how to check your tire pressure.
4. Tires: Check Tire Tread Depth, Rotate Your Tires
Tires are the only item between your vehicle and the road – they are critical to safe vehicle operation. Regularly checking tire tread depth is important. Having a healthy tire tread depth keeps your vehicle “sticky” on the road. A low tread depth may cause your vehicle to hydroplane on wet roads and in severe weather conditions, like a heavy rain. For those not familiar with hydroplaning, it’s a condition when a thin film of water builds up between the road surface and your tires causing temporary loss of steering and braking. Another way to think about this condition is your tires are “floating” above the road surface – not a good condition to be in for you and your passengers. When tread depth gets to low levels, it’s time to purchase a new set of tires. How to check tire tread depth can be found here.
Rotating your tires every other oil change is a form of preventative maintenance. It prevents uneven wearing of tires and it’s the easiest way to extend tire lifespan.
5. Keep Your Vehicle Clean and Healthy, and Free of Pollutants
Maintaining a clean vehicle, inside and out is not only another preventative maintenance item, but also keeps you and your passengers healthy. Let’s start with the interior – change your cabin air filter.
Air entering the passenger compartment (Cabin) is filtered via a cabin air filter. These filters are designed to remove pollutants from air prior to reaching the passenger cabin. Highway and city driving especially during heavy traffic are a few of the sources of potential pollutants entering your vehicle.
Using cleaning wipes (Baby wipes work well too), wipe down top of dashboard to include area under the windshield. Wipe down all control knobs, steering wheel, door handles, seats, etc. Anything that comes in contact with human hands. This eliminates the chance of any unhealthy bacteria from accumulating and coming into contact with you and your passengers. It also eliminates the chance of unwanted odors from compounding too.
Wash your vehicle exterior frequently via hand wash or drive-through car wash. Keeping the outside of your vehicle clean and free from road grime and road salt will help preserve the exterior finish. Removing road salt from the vehicle undercarriage prevents the possibility of rust and corrosion establishing itself on parts of the vehicle frame.
New Year’s Resolutions For Your Car
Keep up with these New Year’s Resolutions for your car throughout 2023 to maintain a safe vehicle and to avoid unexpected breakdowns that may leave you stranded by the roadside.
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