What You Need to Know About Important Maintenance Tasks
You guessed it: Your owner’s manual will tell you when to do most basic tasks. Still, here’s some information on common, but important, to-dos to track on your own. In fact, Ehrsam says, you can check on the following items every time you fuel up if you’re so inclined.
How’s your oil? Change your oil per your owner’s manual instructions—more frequent changes are a waste of money. But do keep an eye on the engine oil levels and color between service appointments, recommends Ehrsam. Discoloration or low levels could indicate an engine malfunction. That’s true for your brake fluid, too.
What’s your tire pressure? Under- or over-inflated tires will wear out faster, and it's easy to check pressure levels at the gas station. Always inspect tire pressure before a long road trip, says Lint, who notes that if your car goes into the auto repair shop for anything (even a simple oil change), then legally the shop must check and top off your tire pressure. You can also check your tire tread using a tire tread gauge.
Are your windshield wipers still doing their job? Blades that leave behind a smear instead of clearing raindrops can be a serious safety hazard, obscuring visibility when road conditions are at their worst. Test out your blades to make sure they’re clean and crack-free before the start of the rainy season or winter. While you're at it, make sure your washer fluid is also sufficient (and don’t forget the back of the car if you have rear wipers!).
How to Find a Reputable Mechanic
Beyond sticking to a maintenance schedule, when it comes to the health of your car, there’s nothing more important than having a solid relationship with a service provider.
“Keeping your car serviced by a knowledgeable mechanic is important for making sure you stay safe out on the roads,” says Lint. But knowledge is only half the equation: You also need someone you can trust.
But how can you find that knowledgeable, trustworthy mechanic? Visit AAA.com/autorepair and search by your zip code to locate a reliable shop. Technicians at these shops are all factory-trained or possess ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification. As a AAA Member, you'll save 10 percent on labor costs, and receive a 24-month/24,000-mile extended warranty on all parts and work performed.