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Make a Resolution to Tune Up These 10 Critical Car Systems

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Along with pledges to exercise more and lose weight, adding some key car maintenance tasks to your list of New Year’s Workers Performing Maintenance on a White Carresolutions could make the difference between a safe and happy 2016 and one that finds you in a broken-down car or worse. While regular car maintenance is essential to extending the life of your car and ensuring that every trip is a safe one, these tasks are especially important during our harsh Kansas City winters. Whether you are a do-it-yourself grease monkey or a regular customer of your local mechanic or car dealership, don’t overlook these key car systems when tuning up your car for the New Year.

Don’t Skip These Key Maintenance Tasks

Everyone’s time is valuable and no one wants to waste time sitting around an auto shop waiting for work to be done on a car. However, performing these maintenance tasks regularly can save time and money in the long run, not to mention keep you and your loved ones safer on the road.

  1. Tires. Inspect your tires for wear and tear and a good, deep tread—this is especially important in winter. Rotate your tires regularly and check the air pressure frequently. Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the correct air pressure for your vehicle and make sure your tires stay at that pressure, even in cold weather. A properly inflated tire will wear evenly and last longer, saving you money and keeping you safer on the roads.

  2. Oil Changes. The three functions of engine oil are to keep engine components running smoothly, draw heat away from the combustion chamber, and prevent carbon and varnishes from building up in the engine. The longer you go between oil changes, the less efficient your engine will become. Schedule oil changes every 3,000 miles for optimum performance.

  3. Brakes. Brakes are obviously essential to safe driving and should be inspected regularly. Low brake fluid levels can result in soft brake pedals, while squeaky brakes mean dirty brake pads, both of which can result in brake malfunction and potential accidents. Especially during wintry conditions, you want to make sure your brakes are in tip-top shape.

  4. Power Steering Fluid. Hydraulic power steering systems enable the driver to turn the steering wheel with less effort. The entire system depends on pressurized fluid to work the pump. Without enough fluid, the wheel becomes difficult to turn, which could prove dangerous and could also permanently damage the system. Check fluid levels regularly and add fluid as needed.

  5. Filters. Decreased gas mileage, dirty filters, poor acceleration, and trouble starting your car are signs that your filters need to be changed. Kansas City’s harsh winter weather also requires more frequent filter changes. Inspect and change your filters as needed for better performance and a more reliable start on cold mornings.

  6. Battery. A dead or weak battery could leave you stranded in a frigid parking lot this winter. Be sure to clean the battery terminals and check the cables frequently. A car battery generally lasts about four to six years, so if your battery is within that range, you may want to replace it before you head out on the road again.

  7. Timing Belt. While most newer cars don’t even have a timing belt, if you’re driving a pre-1990 model, you should inspect it regularly to make sure it is not in danger of snapping. Timing belts are critical to the efficient operation of older engines.

  8. Windshield Wipers. You will not make it through the freezing rain, snow, and sleet of a Kansas City winter without functioning windshield wipers and a full reservoir of wiper fluid. Replace cracked wipers and top off your wiper fluid regularly throughout the winter.

  9. Coolant. Coolant prevents your car’s engine from overheating and safeguards it against mechanical breakdown and possible engine failure. Generally, coolant should be changed every 30,000 miles, but consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find the exact recommendation.

  10. Spark Plugs. Clean and replace spark plugs according to the owner’s manual schedule for an efficient, clean-running engine.  

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