All cars require a large amount of maintenance and upkeep throughout their lives to stay in peak condition. The amount and type of maintenance changes over time with a car's increasing mileage. Keep your vehicle running like brand new with these maintenance tips for cars of any age.
Oil and Oil Filter Changes
Oil changes should be performed around every 5 000 kilometres regardless of total mileage. Changing the oil is a relatively easy home project. To start, lift the car on jacks or ramps. Be sure to attach the jacks or ramps on the strongest parts of the car. You can find jack placement information in the owner's manual. Once the car is raised, place a collection pan beneath the oil pan, which is located close to the engine. Remove the oil plug with a socket or crescent wrench and let the old oil drain out. Then remove the old oil filter, a cylinder about 12 centimetres long. Lubricate the gasket ring of the new filter for better performance, and place it where the old one was. To finish the process, fill the tank with new oil using a funnel and dispose the old oil at a designated site. Make sure to use the correct oil. Although 10W-30 is a good choice in general, some cars may perform even better with other mixes of oil.
Other Maintenance at 5 000 Kilometres
When changing oil at every 5 000 kilometre interval, check other basic fluids such as transmission, coolant, power steering and windshield washer, referring to the car's manual for location and ideal amounts of the various fluids. In addition, check tyre air pressure with a pressure gauge and inspect all lights, especially brake and turn signal. If the tyres are low on air, use an air compressor to fill them to safe levels. Replace any lights that do not function properly. This requires replacing the fuse or wiring. If both are intact and the lights still do not work, try repairing the light lenses with a lens repair kit.
Maintenance Around 50 000 Kilometres
Start routinely checking the battery, spark plugs, fuel filter, air filter and suspension every 50 000 kilometres. Replace any of these if you notice wear and tear. Batteries are relatively easy to replace at home. To remove the battery, simply disconnect the negative terminal, then the positive terminal and take the battery out from under the bonnet. Make sure to remove the negative terminal first, or there is the danger of short-circuiting the car. Before inserting a new battery, clean the clamps with a brush and baking soda dissolved in water. Then place the new battery in the car and attach the positive and negative terminals. Additionally at 50 000 kilometres, check and replace engine coolant, power steering fluid and transmission fluid. These fluids deteriorate to the point of ineffectiveness in this stage of the car's life.
Brake Maintenance at 70 000 Kilometres
In addition to the more frequent car care, check and change brake pads and brake fluid around 70 000 kilometres. Brake pads require more frequent changes if the driver spends more time in start-and-stop situations. Changing the pads is a simple hour-long home procedure with basic mechanic tools including a jack, a lug wrench and a socket wrench. Refer to the owner's manual and other guides to learn the entire process. Changing the brake fluid is an even easier process. To do so, first locate and open the master cylinder reservoir using the car's manual for reference. Remove the old fluid with a turkey baster and clean out the cylinder with a lint-free cloth. Fill the cylinder with new fluid and bleed the brakes until clean liquid flows through the entire system and out the bleeder screw.
Maintenance at 100 000 Kilometres
Car care at 100 000 kilometres calls for some additional replacements. Inspect and change the radiator hose and timing belt while performing the more frequent maintenance requirements. Be especially mindful of the timing belt, as it is crucial to the performance of cams, valves and other internal engine components. Changing the timing belt is a more involved mechanical procedure. The process requires a new rubber belt, gaskets, gasket adhesive and seals. For specific size requirements for each car model, check with the employees at the parts shop. The necessary tools for this project are wrenches for all size nuts and a screwdriver or pry bar for leverage. Gather the essential tools and materials and reference the car's manual or repair shop for complete instructions. If the battery has not been changed for the first 100 000 kilometres, it will most likely require replacement at this mileage as well.
Car maintenance changes over time as a car gathers more mileage. Caring for your car at any age is easy if you pay attention to the requirements for each stage in the vehicle's lifetime. Follow these simple tips and keep your car running for years to come.