Automotive maintenance guide: what you should know?

Automotive maintenance is a fundamental process for keeping your vehicle in optimal condition, avoiding future problems, and addressing existing ones to prevent them from worsening. This allows you to drive at all times without worries about your vehicle’s performance or mechanical circumstances that could affect your safety.

Here’s a guide to basic vehicle maintenance. With this information, you’ll know what to check at a workshop, how to keep your car in good condition, and how to avoid breakdowns or accidents.

Knowing how to keep a car in good condition starts with a preventive approach. What does this mean? It involves planning, conducting inspections, and making adjustments to various vehicle components, as well as replacing damaged or worn parts to prevent future failures.

For this reason, it’s important to perform this procedure periodically, typically every 10,000 kilometers, or annually, depending on usage conditions, manufacturer specifications, and the type of components involved.

10 steps of basic vehicle maintenance

If you want to know how to keep a car in good condition, pay attention to the essential aspects you should observe when it’s time to perform this procedure:

1.Check the battery’s condition

The battery is a component that supplies the electrical energy needed to start the engine and power the vehicle’s electrical systems, such as lights, audio system, and onboard electronics.

When inspecting it, check for signs of corrosion on the terminals. Also, observe if there’s slower cranking than usual, which could indicate a low charging capacity. Additionally, pay attention to possible abnormal sounds, such as buzzing or clicking, when starting the vehicle, which could suggest battery or electrical system problems.

2.Verify the condition of the lights

Lights are crucial for improving visibility for both yourself and other drivers, especially at night or in adverse weather conditions.

    It’s important to check that all lights are functioning correctly, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, fog lights, and reverse lights. Also, ensure they are properly aligned and that there’s no reduction in lighting intensity.

    3.Filter inspection

    Filters, including cabin, air, oil, and fuel filters, play a crucial role in preventing impurities from entering the engine and the vehicle’s interior.

      If you notice poor engine performance, strange noises, increased fuel consumption, or a pronounced sudden fuel odor, as well as other unpleasant odors inside the vehicle, it’s time to replace them.

      4.Oil change

      Oil is vital for lubricating engine parts and preventing friction. Typically, it’s recommended to change it every 5,000 kilometers, although it may also be necessary to do so earlier if you notice signs of problems.

        Such signs include excessive engine noise, dirty, dark, and non-viscous oil, oil odor inside the vehicle, engine overheating, or increased vehicle effort under normal conditions, even at idle.

        5.Brake inspection

        Ensure that brake pads and discs are in good condition. Pay attention to possible vibrations or noises when braking, as well as the need to apply more pressure than usual on the pedal or if it feels too stiff.

          Brake inspection is key to preventing accidents and ensuring good braking performance when necessary.

          6.Fluid check

          There are five essential fluids in a vehicle that require periodic checking: engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and windshield washer fluid.

            Each of these fluids has its own reservoir, equipped with level indicators that show the minimum and maximum points. It’s crucial to keep these levels within the recommended ranges to ensure optimal vehicle operation.

            7.Tire calibration and inspection

            Tire pressure should be sufficient and uniform to ensure optimal performance and safe driving. It’s recommended to consult the vehicle manufacturer’s manual to know the specific inflation pressure for each model.

              Now, tire pressure should be checked with a gauge when they are cold, meaning when the vehicle hasn’t been used for about 3 hours.

              In addition to pressure, it’s also important to check the tread depth of the tires. It’s suggested that the minimum depth be 3 mm; if it’s less than this range, tire replacement should be considered.

              8.Shock absorber inspection

              To check the condition of shock absorbers, you can perform a simple test. Press firmly on the vehicle’s hood for a few seconds and then release. If the car oscillates only once and stabilizes quickly, the shock absorbers are in good condition. However, if it bounces more than once, they may need to be replaced.

                Another option is to visually inspect the shock absorbers. Check if they are covered in oil, as this could indicate a leak and the need for repair.

                Shock absorbers are components that help maintain vehicle stability and ensure safe driving.

                9.Check the condition of the timing belt

                The timing system is responsible for synchronizing the engine’s operation according to its timing, so if this component fails, it can trigger a series of chain problems in the vehicle.

                If you notice unusual vibrations, hear clicks from the engine, or find cracks in the timing belt, it’s time to replace it.

                10.Inspection of the exhaust system

                A defective exhaust system can cause serious problems in the vehicle, such as decreased engine performance, increased fuel consumption, elevated pollutant emissions, and the risk of component detachment.

                  It’s essential to keep this system in good condition to ensure the correct release of engine gases and prevent safety and environmental problems.