Car owners used to set their tune-up schedules by the calendar; the arrival of spring and fall meant bi-annual trips to the garage. But with today's automobiles, seasonal schedules don't always coincide with your car's needs.
Randy Loyk, manager of technical services for the Alberta Motor Association, says that today's car buyers should follow recommended maintenance intervals in the owner's manuals, which dictate visits to the service centre every 60,000 to 100,000 kilometres, rather than based on the calendar page.
And doing that is your best bet to hazard-free driving. "If the owner is diligent about following the owner's manual, she'll have few problems with today's automobile," Loyk reports.
Common sense is key to automobile ownership. Other than regular maintenance appointments, you should keep a few other things in mind before heading out on a road trip in the summer heat.
"The most important thing you need to look at is the tires," he emphasizes. "Get down on your knees and take a good look at the rubber." Loyk, who oversees all AMA-approved auto repair shops and emergency road service contractors in Alberta, says you need to be sure the tires are properly inflated, and the tread is wearing evenly. If the tread is uneven, it means you've got an alignment problem and it's going to cost you at the pumps. Buy a tire pressure gauge and take the reading when the tire is cool, since pressure rises when it's heated up from driving.
Loyk also notes that highway cruising can really tax your automobile's engine, so you want to make sure your coolant system is up to snuff. Ensure the belts and hoses are in good shape. If there are any cracks or tears, it needs replacing. Check too if the belts need to be tightened.
Your oil level is important and key to smooth engine performance. Maybe it needs to be changed – have a look by pulling the dipstick: If it looks black, it's dirty – clean oil should be a translucent light-brown colour, and should be changed about every three months or 5,000 kilometres.
But, as Loyk points out, these are all things we as automobile owners should be doing on a regular basis anyway, and not just because we're heading out on a long trip.
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