Beyond The Oil Change: 3 Important Car Maintenance Tasks

3/20/2017


Car that needs maintenance

Every car owner knows regular oil changes are an expected part of vehicle ownership, and most are also aware of other necessary tasks that need to be done, including tire, brake, and battery replacement. However, there are several other important maintenance tasks besides these. Many of these other tasks are just as critical as oil changes.

While each specific make and model has its own maintenance schedule, many of the following tasks are common across all vehicles. Below are three maintenance items you should be aware of and address as needed to protect your substantial investment.

Air Filter Replacement

Just like any device that burns a fuel to produce energy, your car depends on oxygen to complete the combustion cycle. However, the air coming from the road is often full of dust and debris and can cause damage to the internal parts of your engine if it enters in this state. Your car contains an air filter that removes the contaminants that could harm your vehicle; this filter is a simple component that is usually made of paper and is placed in its own special compartment between the intake and motor.

Over time, this filter becomes clogged as the engine continues to draw air from the outside. If you ignore a clogged filter, the lack of adequate airflow will cause your engine to run poorly and cost you extra money at the gas pump. Should you continue to ignore your air filter, it will eventually disintegrate and admit harmful debris into the engine directly.

As with all maintenance tasks, it is important to check your owner's manual to see when replacement is warranted. However, most air filters should be visually examined for signs of excessive debris at every oil change; if it looks dirty, then it probably needs to be tossed and a new one installed. They aren't expensive, and it is well worth the low cost to replace a clogged filter.

Engine Coolant Replacement

The coolant in your car serves a critical role by preventing your engine from overheating. The liquid, which consists of a mixture of water and special chemicals, absorbs heat from the motor and releases the heat when it enters the radiator. If anything disrupts this cycle, heat levels will build beyond an acceptable limit and cause significant engine damage.

Engine coolant needs replacement on a regular basis; newer vehicles may not need fresh coolant more often than every 100,000 miles, but this can vary depending on the make and model. If you fail to replace the coolant as necessary, then it will eventually stop readily absorbing heat and could allow engine temperatures to rise to dangerous levels.

In addition, coolant also accumulates more particles as time passes; these particles consist of minute bits and pieces of metal as well as other small debris. While these particles may be largely harmless, there is a possibility they can clog internal lines and block areas of the motor off from the coolant. Obviously, this could be destructive to your engine, so be sure to follow whatever written guidelines are in place for your specific vehicle and replace the coolant as specified.

Timing Belt Replacement

When a car engine runs, a lot of internal moving parts must move exactly in sync for the engine to function. For example, multiple valves allow fuel to enter the motor while other valves permit exhaust to leave. The timing belt is connected to each of these parts and keeps everything moving in rhythm. It is important to know that not all vehicles contain timing belts; some use what is known as a timing chain, but the function is the same.

Unfortunately, timing belts are made of rubber and will eventually wear out and break. Should this occur, there is a high likelihood that unsynchronized parts inside the engine will collide and create catastrophic damage. In fact, the damage can be so substantial that engine replacement is often the only remedy.

It goes without saying that timing belt replacement is critical and should not be ignored. Each vehicle has its own schedule for timing belt replacement, but generally, it's performed once every 100,000 miles. Your vehicle's owner's manual should tell you when replacement is necessary.

Also, keep in mind that timing belt replacement is usually quite extensive and will necessitate a mechanic's assistance, so be sure to consult a reliable automotive specialist for help.