Car Owners’ Manual – Basic Car Maintenance Guide

Being a car owner is more of a necessity than a privilege these days. For many drivers out there, going anywhere, even to the store, is a 15-minute commute. Yet, many people don’t maintain their vehicles as they should, which often leads to awkward situations. The reason why there’s a lack of maintenance culture among most drivers is hard to determine. A large part of this problem can be attributed to the lack of awareness. We’d like to change that. In this section of the Car Owners’ Manual, we’ll discuss basic car maintenance. The idea is to teach you how to properly take care of your vehicle. That way it will take care of you, as well.
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The Importance of Basic Car Maintenance

Cars are such a common appearance that most people don’t pay too much attention when they see one. The large majority of drivers think of cars as this robust, monolithic thing that gets them from point A, to point B. In reality, cars are complex machines that consist of several subsystems that all work together. Each of these systems is packed with many moving parts, mechanical and electrical components, and generally things that can wear out or break over time.

The only way to prevent anything from wearing out prematurely, or breaking, is to stay on top of your maintenance schedule. By maintaining your car, you’re ensuring that each of these automotive subsystems is working properly, which in turn ensures that larger components don’t break or fail. In other words, prevention can get you a long way as far as cars go.

What Does Basic Car Maintenance Involve?

Understanding that cars need to be maintained is an important first step, but what does car maintenance really mean? What specific actions should you be taking, and when, to keep your car in good condition?

Determining the exact procedures involved in car maintenance is exactly the purpose of this section of the Car Owners’ Manual. We’ll break down automotive maintenance into bite-sized pieces, and explain the purpose of each maintenance task. That way you’ll know exactly why something needs to be maintained, how that maintenance is affecting a specific part of your car, and what happens if you don’t keep up with said maintenance.

To make things easier, we’ve broken the maintenance segment of this guide down into several chapters. Each chapter will address a specific subsystem as follows.

Engine Maintenance

Your car’s engine is its most important component. Without it, you can’t move the vehicle, but you also can’t power any of the auxiliary systems. Engine maintenance is fairly straightforward but requires consistency and the use of quality products. A well-maintained engine can last for 500,000 miles or more, as long as you treat it right.

This section of the manual will address engine oil replacement, when to change the oil, filters, choosing the right filter, and more. We will also talk about the cooling system, induction system maintenance, fuel system maintenance, and pretty much everything that affects the performance of your engine.

Transmission Maintenance

Modern automotive transmissions are robust, reliable, and generally durable pieces of technology. Because they rarely fail, drivers tend to forget that the transmission also needs to be maintained.

We’ll dog into transmission fluid flushes, valve bodies, what transmission fluid to use, how to properly inspect the transmission, and more. Your car’s automatic or manual gearbox isn’t something you’ll have to deal with often in terms of maintenance, but having it actually maintained is essential for its longevity.

Braking System Maintenance

Even though engines get all the attention as being the most important system in a car. Yet, there’s an argument to be made that brakes are more essential. The engine is what makes your car go, but the brakes are what’s allowing you to come to a halt safely and securely.

Brake system maintenance is one of the most common forms of maintenance on any vehicle. This part of the manual will address brake pad and brake rotor maintenance, brake fluid selection and application. We’ll also discuss e-brake maintenance, and other things that are involved in keeping your braking system healthy.

Suspension System Maintenance

Car suspension is one of those things that you only notice when something goes wrong. Suspension maintenance is pretty simple as there are very few complex mechanical components, if any, on a regular car.

That being said, we’ll go a step further from the usual advice. We’ll touch upon the maintenance of bushings, rubber boots, and many other components that don’t often receive the TLC they deserve.

We’ll also touch upon wheel alignment, tire rotation, tire selection, and other relevant information.

Paintwork Maintenance and Detailing

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Last but not least, we’ll discuss how to properly maintain your car’s paintwork, how to keep that clear coat healthy for years to come, and how to protect your car’s paint from various forms of damage. We’ll get into basic automotive detailing, waxes, ceramic coatings, and other means of paint protection and paint correction.

Once we cover paintwork maintenance, we’ll move the discussion to the inside of the passenger cabin and briefly talk about interior detailing. You’ll learn how to keep your car clean, protected, and looking fresh no matter how new or old it is!

What About Tools?

Performing any kind of car maintenance will involve the use of tools. We will address this as well in each individual section. However, we won’t go too far into detail regarding the exact type of tools. Different car manufacturers use different pattern bolts, screws, and other components that will dictate the exact type of tools you’ll need to maintain your vehicle.

Because of the sheer diversity of cars on the roads today, It’s not feasible for us to put together a list of exact tools for every specific vehicle. Instead, we’ll point you in the right direction and let you figure out the rest.

When to Ask for Professional Assistance?

Automotive maintenance can be challenging. This applies to both simple and complex maintenance jobs. If you ever find yourself overwhelmed by an issue, do yourself a favor and ask your local mechanic for help.

It’s not unheard of for oil filters to be stuck to the engine, or for brake spark bolts to break. Professionals will know exactly how to address these unconventional issues without turning them into a more severe issue.

Similarly, if you don’t feel comfortable working on critical systems such as your brakes, it’s always better to have a shop do the job for you. Over time, you’ll get to a point where you’ll gain enough information to confidently do the job yourself!

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