What is Auto Maintenance?

J.M. Densing

Auto maintenance is the ongoing process of keeping a car working in a safe and reliable manner, often focusing on preventive measures. Certain parts get worn out with use in all automobile engines and are intended to be replaced at certain intervals before the parts fail. Prime examples include tires and brakes. Other maintenance tasks involve checking and changing fluids such as oil that protect vital systems such as the engine.

Motor oil and funnel.
Motor oil and funnel.

Auto maintenance also includes ensuring that items are in proper working condition, such as checking tire pressure. These basic maintenance tasks are needed on all cars, specific makes and models also have additional requirements.

Checking the tire pressure regularly and keeping the tires properly inflated is an important part of auto maintenance.
Checking the tire pressure regularly and keeping the tires properly inflated is an important part of auto maintenance.

One of the most basic and important tasks of auto maintenance is checking the engine oil level and having oil changes at the recommended intervals. Many car manufacturers differ on oil change intervals, but the information is easily located in the owner's manual. An oil change involves draining old oil out of the engine and replacing it with fresh oil along with a new filter. This is vitally important because the oil lubricates all of the moving parts in the engine, protecting them from excessive friction and heat that could cause damage. Regular oil changes will help the engine keep running smoothly throughout its lifetime.

As checking the engine fluid levels is an important part of keeping an auto engine healthy, fluids like antifreeze must be constantly monitored and refilled when low.
As checking the engine fluid levels is an important part of keeping an auto engine healthy, fluids like antifreeze must be constantly monitored and refilled when low.

An auto maintenance task that helps to ensure safety is a brake inspection. This involves checking the brakes to make sure they are working properly and that the parts are not worn out. Since brake pads wear out, the inspection will show from time to time that they need to be replaced. It is very important to do this before they wear out completely, which could cause brake failure.

Auto maintenance may be performed at a car dealership.
Auto maintenance may be performed at a car dealership.

Tire rotation is an auto maintenance task that can make the tires last a little longer by preventing uneven wear. The tires should be kept inflated to the recommended pressure, which should be checked on a regular basis with a tire pressure gauge and is simple to do. In addition, the tires should be inspected for trouble signs like bulging sides or excessive wear that indicate it's time to replace them.

Replacing brake pads is a common auto maintenance procedure.
Replacing brake pads is a common auto maintenance procedure.

There are also a variety of fluids that should be checked as part of basic auto maintenance. These include engine coolant, brake, transmission, and power steering fluids. The levels can be checked under the hood by looking at the level in a reservoir or by using a dipstick. Most of these fluids should also be replaced at specified intervals. Spark plugs and various filters need to be replaced at intervals recommended by the manufacturer to keep the car running smoothly. The windshield washer fluid should also be checked periodically, and the wiper blades inspected for wear. Another thing to check regularly is that all lights are in working condition.

Tire rotation prevents uneven wear of tires.
Tire rotation prevents uneven wear of tires.

Many of the basic auto maintenance tasks that involve monitoring, like checking fluid levels and tire pressure, can be performed by the car owner. Others should be performed by a professional at a local repair shop or car dealership. Examples of tasks best left to professionals include changing oil or other fluids, replacing brake pads, spark plugs, or tires, as well as any specialized maintenance required by the car manufacturer.

Because of their constant wear, tires must be maintained for safety and reliability.
Because of their constant wear, tires must be maintained for safety and reliability.
Making sure a battery is fully charged is part of auto maintenance.
Making sure a battery is fully charged is part of auto maintenance.
Most automobile mechanics recommend that oil be changed every 3,000 miles.
Most automobile mechanics recommend that oil be changed every 3,000 miles.
A trusted mechanic is the best source for an auto maintenance schedule.
A trusted mechanic is the best source for an auto maintenance schedule.
Properly maintained vehicles are less likely to require major repairs.
Properly maintained vehicles are less likely to require major repairs.
A car's diagnostic codes should be checked any time an indicator lamp is displayed.
A car's diagnostic codes should be checked any time an indicator lamp is displayed.

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