Overlooked Service

Most car nuts consider themselves good stewards, but even the most common checks get overlooked in between kids’ events, early days at the office and the occasional weekend travel. The Women’s Board of the Car Care Council joins me in encouraging you to check these six items that often get neglected: 1. Keep time - Basic engine maintenance. Check that little book in your glove box under all the napkins. There is a service schedule. If you’re always running around you probably qualify for the “severe duty” schedule. One of the items not to miss is the timing belt, probably the single most overlooked maintenance item in newer cars. There are no telltale signs that the timing belt is worn until it breaks, so replace it at the intervals specified in the owner’s manual. 2. Belts and Hoses - Belts and hose need to be replaced at the proper service intervals or when they become cracked or worn. These signs are usually visible, so check them yourself or have a certified technician do it for you. 3. Watch your temperature - Today's tightly controlled, low-emissions engines are more sensitive than ever to changes in operating temperature. Have your car's thermostat checked, and make sure that it still opens and closes at the right temperature. If you have any doubts, the thermostat is another relatively inexpensive item to replace. Make sure to replace the coolant/ antifreeze every two years or have it tested. 4. Keep it clean - The air and fuel filters do exactly what their name says - they clean out impurities from the fuel or air before they get into the engine. Fuel-filter replacement is usually easy and inexpensive. A clogged, neglected fuel filter can lead to expensive repairs such as premature fuel-pump failure or clogged fuel injectors. Replacing an air filter is simple and will improve your fuel economy and performance, so change it every 6 months to get the most for your money. 5. Give yourself a brake - Have the entire brake system professionally flushed with new brake fluid at least every two years; otherwise you risk ruining the expensive brake system. Why should you replace brake fluid? Brake fluid absorbs moisture, and moisture in the brake system is lethal. Because it’s silent, major damage will occur before you even realize it - and by then it's too late. 6. Get geared up. Replacing your car's automatic transmission fluid is relatively inexpensive, and it can save costly transmission repairs in the long run. Although some new transmissions are "sealed for life," most automatic transmissions should get fluid changes every 30,000 miles, or as recommended by your car's maintenance schedule or your automotive technician. A little bit of preventative maintenance will save you money in the long haul, keeping you on the road and on your way.