Though cars are getting ever more complex, there are still quite a few things you can do to keep them roadworthy. By taking care of these five things, you should keep yourself and others on the road safe as you go about your daily business.

Check Your Oil

Over 10,000-15,000 miles of driving a year between services, a car’s lube oil is going to degrade and much of it will end up as sludge in the sump below the engine. When it’s there it is not doing its job of keeping moving parts from rubbing against each other, potentially seizing at an inopportune moment.

The car’s dipstick hasn’t changed even as technology has moved on. Check that it is between the two lines by pulling the dipstick out, wiping it and putting it in again. When you pull it out you’ll see where the oil level is.

Check your car manual as to what oil the car needs – this differs between vehicles. You will normally be able to buy it from a good auto parts store. Just be careful to put no more oil in than required as this could cause as many problems as too little!

Coolant

Despite its name, coolant is needed even in colder temperatures. This is why it is mixed with antifreeze, to keep the fluid running even in a tough Midwest winter.

You check this by looking at the plastic bottle at the top of the engine, and like the oil it should sit between two lines. If it is low (or getting a little low) get a bottle from the auto repair shop and add it. While you have the hood of your car open, Ignite Industrial Technologies recommends using a degreaser to clean your engine if you notice that it’s dirty, since grease and dirt could affect its performance over time.

Unlike oil, this should only be done when the engine is cold. If it has been running within the last couple hours it might burn you with steam if opened.

Tires


Whether in winter or summer, worn tires can be a killer. They should have at least 1/16th of an inch of tread to conform to legal requirements but tires are more than a legal requirement – you could still lose traction even with that!

If they are getting worn down, take the car to an auto mechanic to replace them. Ideally you should replace tires in pairs – either the front two or rear two together – for safer driving.

Windscreen Wash

Ever driven at night with filth on the windscreen when another car is coming at you? The headlights can be blinding! This is why you should replace your windscreen wash as soon as it is empty. As with coolant this can be done via another ‘bottle’ under the hood in the engine bay. It can however be replaced when the engine is warm.

Get to Know Your Dashboard Messages

If a new light appears on your dashboard and you don’t know what it means, have a look at the car’s manual. This will tell you what it means – it could for instance be telling you your brake fluid is low and your brakes are about to fail! Take these seriously and find out what they mean as soon as they appear.

An ‘Engine’ light can be accompanied by the vehicle computer limiting your speed – get to a safe place as soon as possible and get help.

The Takeaway

The car will normally tell you what is wrong with it – you just need to look! From the common issues to the serious, if you have a car repair policy with Select Auto Protect you can have your vehicle back on the road and safe in no time.

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