The Top Overlooked Vehicle Maintenance Items
We all know servicing our vehicles is the best way to extend their road-life, but sometimes routine maintenance can get overlooked or swept under the rug. If everything seems to be working as it should, it can be easy to focus on other things beyond servicing your car. Unfortunately, ignoring routine maintenance can have expensive consequences! As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled some of the most commonly overlooked scheduled maintenance items. Have you been putting any of these off?
- Power Steering Service
Like oil, power steering fluid can get dirty—it can also get moisture buildup over time. Flushing out the power steering system removed any dirt or gunk that has accumulated and helps to protect the parts in the system from corrosion. If you wait too long to service your power steering, it can cause a complete system failure. Topping off your fluid will help maintain the system, as will periodic flushing.
- Wheel Alignment
Wheel alignment affects how your car handles, but it also plays a role in the life of your tires and suspension components. Wheels can be thrown out of alignment from a variety of things—driving over potholes or poor road conditions, hitting a curb, or even getting into an accident. When your alignment is off, you may notice the car is pulling to one side, steering erratically, or it may move across lanes with only a small wheel movement. Unsurprisingly, this can affect your ability to drive safely. In addition, even a slight maladjustment in your wheel alignment can cause uneven or premature tire wear. It’s generally recommended to get your wheel alignment checked once or twice a year to make sure the wheels are pointing the way they should.
- Differential Service
The differential is a component that transfers power from the transmission to the wheels. Some front-wheel drive vehicles have a differential incorporated into the transmission, while others have separate units. All rear-wheel-drive vehicles have a rear differential. Differentials are lubricated by gear oil, which can break down over time. Once this happens, the oil’s viscosity is reduced, which in turn reduces its ability to lubricate the differential and wheel bearings properly. If your vehicle has a transfer case, this should be serviced at the same time as the differential.
- Cabin Air Filters
Most vehicles are equipped with cabin air filters these days. Cabin air filters help to remove dust, pollen, odors, and other debris but they often start to smell when they become clogged. A clogged air filter can also prevent the cabin air from circulating. One side of the filter is directly exposed to outside air, so it can also be susceptible to mildew and mold growth. Fortunately, they’re easy and inexpensive to change. Keeping up with your cabin air filter replacement will keep fresh air flowing into your cabin, which can be very helpful for drivers who suffer from allergies.
- Timing Belt Replacement
All vehicles have either a timing belt or a timing chain. Timing chains are typically meant to last for the majority of the life of the vehicle, however, timing belts need to be replaced on a schedule. The timing belt is essential; it’s connected to the crankshaft or camshaft. Some engines have external timing belts, while others have internal belts. Regardless of how they need to be accessed, they have the important function of opening and closing the engine’s valves to ensure smooth operation.
If the engine is an “interference engine,” a slipping or broken timing belt can prevent the engine from running and damage the valves and pistons. This can cost thousands of dollars to repair! Fortunately, each automaker has specific maintenance schedules for timing belt replacement. If your odometer reads between 50,000-60,0000 miles, have our technicians inspect your timing belt for signs of damage or wear.
- Transmission Service
Transmission service is part of basic maintenance, but it often gets overlooked. Unfortunately, this can be a recipe for future repairs. The transmission needs clean fluid to continue operating efficiently. You should follow your manufacturer’s guidelines for transmission fluid and filter changes, and make sure to have your fluid level checked at every oil change. If the transmission fluid looks burnt or dark-colored, this is a sign your transmission has overheated. The fluid should be changed right away to prevent internal transmission damage. Clean fluid can also help improve your fuel economy as well.
- Air Conditioning Service
It’s common for AC systems to go down in the middle of blistering heat or during a brutally cold winter, so it’s always a good idea to have your AC serviced in the spring or fall. The AC compressor contains oil that helps to keep the seals and moving parts lubricated. Since the AC is generally only used during the summer months, the oil tends to leave the areas where it’s needed the most. Fortunately, you can prevent this by switching the AC on for 15 minutes or so, once a month. This will keep your oil circulated and keep the seals and moving parts functioning as they should. An annual servicing will replenish any lost oil in the system, as well as help us find potential refrigerant leaks. In some cases, you may also need to add more refrigerant.
- Brake Service
Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it can absorb water out of air. Over time, this can lead to water in your brake system. This can affect your ability to brake safely. If the fluid isn’t changed periodically, the water in the fluid can also cause corrosion in the system—which may eventually lead to rusted components or complete system failure. If you’re curious about your brake fluid, you can buy a simple dip-strip test at many auto parts stores. If the fluid looks dirty and dark, this is an indication that it’s old and needs to be replaced with fresh brake fluid.
- Coolant System
Most cars on the road tend to be water-cooled. As you could imagine, dealing with water and metal can lead to corrosion issues—made worse by old antifreeze, which becomes corrosive over time. Fresh coolant contains additives that help maintain the proper ph balance in the coolant, but once these degrade, the fluid can begin to eat holes in the radiator or hoses. Preventing issues like this isn’t just important for your radiator—it also prevents your engine from overheating and other expensive issues. Generally, you should have your coolant levels checked each winter and have a full system flush every 2 years.
- Fuel System Cleaning
The fuel system can collect all kinds of debris, like carbon, sludge, and dirt. Once this happens, the debris builds up, which can block up the flow of fuel to the engine. This can make the engine lose power as well as affect the fuel economy and drivability of the vehicle. A fuel system cleaning, which can generally be performed twice a year with a fuel additive, will help restore your vehicle’s performance and fuel economy. In between cleanings, make sure to use quality gasoline, which will help you avoid dirty fuel.
For Quality Maintenance Services, Visit EuroCar Service!
Have you been putting off any of the above services – or overlooked them entirely? You’re not alone! A recent survey found that up to 90% of all vehicles on the road are overdue for at least one type of routine maintenance. Fortunately, EuroCar Service offers all the maintenance services you need to get your vehicle caught up. Addressing these services won’t take much time, and they’ll add thousands of miles to your vehicle’s road-life!
Give us a call today at (206) 527-8828 or schedule your appointment online. As Seattle’s European vehicle experts, we see all European makes and models, including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo, Volkswagen, Saab, Mini-Cooper, Smart Car, and Fiat. We look forward to helping you get the most out of your vehicle!