April is National Car Care Month – How are you going to treat your car? Auto Upkeep’s top 10 list!

Don't Let this Happen to You
Don't Let this Happen to You
We all know from the daily news that new car sales have been in a freefall. This means that most people are keeping their cars longer. Did you know that the median age of a vehicle in the United States in 1990 was 6.5 years and lately the median age has increased to over 9 years? (Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics)

What do you need to do to get your car ready for summer? Here’s my top 10…

1. Read your owner’s manual. It’s that small little booklet in your glovebox that probably still has the plastic shrinkwrap on it. The owner’s manual has tons of great information in it. Most importantly, service schedules. Find out where your car is at in regards to servicing and perform the necessary maintenance as needed.

2. Check and readjust (if needed) your tire pressure. Always check tires when they are cold. The correct tire pressure is on the tire placard, usually on the driver’s side door or door jamb. Do not rely solely on your tire pressure monitoring system (if equipped, cars manufactured after September 1st 2007 are required to have this system). While you are fiddling around with the tire pressure gauge and valve stem, take a gander at the tread. You don’t want to be hydroplaning the next time it rains. Check your spare tire too! Put a quality tire gauge in your glovebox.

3. Inspect your belts and hoses. One of the most common roadside failures is a broken belt or a bursting hose. You don’t want to spring a leak, do you?

4. Complete a light inspection. Replace any burned out bulbs. How often do you see an oncoming car with only one headlight? You don’t want that to be you! Check the bulbs all the way around and inside your car.

5. Assemble a roadside safety kit or purchase one online. Here’s a good one – AAA 73 Piece Adventurer Road Assistance Kit.

6. Clean your battery and have it load tested. Many auto parts stores and service centers will complete a load test on your car battery for free. Here is a link to a video on how to clean your battery yourself.

7. Replace your wiper blades…it’s time if they are cracked or skipping across your windshield and adding a new rhythm to your sound system.

8. Wax your vehicle. (Yeah, that includes washing the road salt off first!) Waxing protects the finish from the summer sunlight. Your car needs sun block too! If you don’t have supplies, this is a good place to start – Meguiar’s Complete Car Care Kit.

9. Go to the clinic! Many auto repair centers and educational facilities host “Car Care Clinics”. See if there is one in your area!

10. Find a reputable technician if you don’t know how to open the hood and don’t have a desire to learn. Look for shops that display its employees’ Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certifications. You have three different types of repair facilities to research: dealerships, chains, and independents. Use websites from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, AAA, and Motorist Assurance Program to find quality repair facilities.

That’s it! Now get on the road and stimulate this economy with your traveling dollar. And if you want to learn more about basic car care, go to www.AutoUpkeep.com.

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Auto Upkeep 4th Edition

Michael Gray

Mike has roots in the automotive service industry. He began diagnosing and fixing cars at a young age in his family’s service station. He has worked in automotive parts supply stores, towing companies, and service facilities. After graduating from St. Cloud State University (MN) with a Bachelor’s degree, he implemented and taught a basic car care program at the high school level. During work on his Master’s degree at Illinois State University (IL), he was a curriculum specialist on a National Science Foundation project where he co-authored ten integrated mathematics, science, and technology books designed for team teaching. Mike has also supervised teachers in Career and Technology Education as a school system administrator.

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