There are car enthusiasts who can regale each other for hours on end about the power of big engines, the responsiveness of steering, or the merits of various types of polishes and paints. If you’re not that person, you probably focus more on just making sure your car can get you where you want to go. Yet if you’re not the type to spend hours each day thinking about your car, it’s easy to overlook some of these most neglected car maintenance tasks. Use this list to prod yourself to think about the last time you took care of these items for your car.
Replacing Worn Belts
These rotating workhorses keep your engine running as it is supposed to – until they wear out. Fan and serpentine belts are inexpensive and relatively easy to replace. A worn timing belt, however, is hard to get at and expensive to replace. If you don’t replace it, you can damage your engine every time you drive. Check your manual to see how long these parts are supposed to last.
Go ahead and pat yourself on the back if you’ve kept up with regular oil changes. Yet your car has other important fluids that need to be changed every so often. The transmission and cooling system both use fluids that should be flushed and changed periodically, and the same goes for brake fluid. These fluids can degrade over time and need to be freshened periodically.
It’s not enough to just test the tread on your tire with a penny, although you should do that and make sure Abe Lincoln’s head isn’t sticking out when you insert the penny in the tread. You must also be sure your wheels are properly aligned for safe steering and in order to avoid uneven wear on your tires.
Ignoring the Check Engine Light
Hope springs eternal that the check engine light is on solely because you didn’t screw your gas cap on tight enough. But ignoring a persistent check engine light can mean you end up with an engine that can’t propel your car into your driveway, much less down the road. It could indicate failing spark plugs or low oil pressure caused by a leak.
Replacing Windshield Wipers
That day when the first bad snowstorm hits is a bad time to find out you have smeary windshield wipers. These rubber sweepers don’t last forever, though. Along with replacing wipers, be sure your wiper fluid is topped off before you set off down a salty winter road.
Air and oil filters, batteries, and tires all wear out. Keep your car running by tending to these and other often neglected car maintenance tasks.