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    Car maintenance is important to keep a vehicle running efficiently. It can also prevent potential problems by making you aware of the car's condition. New car owners might not be familiar with car maintenance schedules recommended by the manufacturer as each one specifies the services that should be performed at certain mileage intervals, but this does not necessarily occur every six months. While there are checks and services that need to be performed every six months, car owners should determine the exact schedule that meets their vehicle and driving needs. For example, if you drive long distances each week, some of the checks need done more frequently than twice a year. As a vehicle ages, the schedule may also need adjusted.

    Tyres

    Every six months or 9 500 to 16 000 km, tyres should be rotated and balanced. If the tyres are off balance or need rotated, it can cause wear on specific areas of the tyre which decreases its life span. However, tyres should be checked more than every six months to prevent flats or blow outs. This includes checking the pressure in all four types each month along with looking for signs of damage. To check the pressure, you can use a digital or manual gauge obtained from auto part stores. These are inexpensive and they hook up to a tyre's valve stem. Once you obtain a pressure reading, compare it to the sticker on the inside of the driver's side door. This is the vehicle's recommended air pressure level. Over-inflated tyres can cause the vehicle to lose contact with the road, while underinflated tyres can increase fuel consumption and put you at risk for accidents. When checking pressure, give the tread a glance as well. Ensure the tyres are free of significant wear, bulges or cuts.

    Inspect the Brakes

    Every six months is also a good time to check the brakes for wear. If the pads wear down too far, the rotors can also become damaged leading to added expenses. If you hear squeaking, grinding or other noises when pressing on the brake pedal, do not wait until the six-month mark. In this case, the brakes should be checked as soon as possible.

    Replace the Wiper Blades

    As they age, wiper blades tend to crack and become less effective. This makes it vital to have the blades changed before you actually need to use them. When checking the blades, do not neglect to check the arms also.

    Oil Changes

    Under normal operating conditions, a vehicle's oil needs changed every six months or 10 000 km, whichever comes first. As oil ages inside the engine, it can become contaminated or break down. When this occurs, you run the risk of damaging the engine and other components. When having the oil changed, or when changing it yourself, also change the oil filter and the air filter.

    Clean Battery Terminals

    Over time, batteries get dirty and you might notice build-up on or around the terminals. To prevent this build-up from affecting the operation of the battery, remove it periodically. Disconnect the battery before beginning and wear protective glasses and gloves to prevent coming into direct contact with the sulphuric acid inside. After the battery is disconnected, pour a solution of water and baking soda over the terminals. Using a cloth or soft bristled brush, wipe away the excess. Reconnect the battery cables, taking care to tighten them.

    Check Spark Plugs and Wires

    When spark plugs begin to deteriorate, the engine does not run as efficiently as it should. This can also increase fuel consumption. To check the spark plugs and wires, first check the plug leads and connections to ensure they are tight and free from cracks or other damage. If you are not familiar with checking the plugs, label each wire so you know where to reconnect it when the time comes. After checking the wires, remove the plugs one at a time and check for wear. If the plugs look clean and in good condition, reinstall them. If they look burnt out, install new ones. You can find the correct size and type of spark plug for your exact vehicle at auto part stores or in the vehicle owner's manual. The gap of the plugs should also be checked using a spark plug gapping tool.

    Check the Radiator

    The radiator provides the engine with coolant, which prevents the vehicle from overheating. If this coolant begins to break down or the reservoir becomes low, the engine does not get the fluid it needs to stay at a safe operating temperature. An overheated engine can lead to expensive damage. This makes it essential to check fluid levels and the ratio of water to coolant. Most vehicles require a mixture of 50/50 coolant and water. This can be tested using strips found at auto part stores. When checking the coolant, take a minute to inspect the hoses and belts. If you see signs of cracking, bulging or wear, replacement is needed.

    Whether you maintain and service your car yourself or you have it done by a mechanic, knowing what needs checked and serviced every six months can save time and money in the long run. It also provides you with a guide so you can keep your car ready for the road.

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