4 Routine Vehicle Maintenance Tips Every Driver Should Know - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Feb 15, 2023

4 Routine Vehicle Maintenance Tips Every Driver Should Know

In a perfect world, our vehicles would operate at peak performance with little oversight or care required by motorists. But as it is, our vehicles require a lot of regular attention to things like tires, brakes, fluids, filters, and other aspects in order to remain a safe vessel on which we can depend for everyday transportation.


It can be easy to take your vehicle for granted; you may think if it starts and runs, what else is there to do? But there are a lot of moving parts that work together to make your vehicle run, and in order to maintain your vehicle’s longevity and decrease the chance of breakdowns or accidents, there are certain maintenance tasks you have to do on a regular basis. Continue reading to learn about different maintenance tips that you should know as a vehicle owner.


Check and Rotate Your Tires


One of the most common issues motorists face on the roads is having a flat tire. Flat tires can be caused by a number of things, some of which cannot be avoided, but you can put yourself in a position where they are less likely to occur by paying regular attention to your tires. Regular tire check-ups with your dealership or mechanic are the best option, but that may not always be possible.


On a frequent basis before driving your vehicle, have a walk around to look at your tires. When evaluating your tires, the first thing you can check is tire pressure. It can be obvious to see when a tire pressure is low but consider using a tire pressure gauge if you are unsure where they stand. Many car manufacturers recommend a pressure of 32 to 35 psi.


The next thing you can check is your tire tread. Take a penny and place it with Abraham Lincoln’s head facing downwards in your tire tread. If the top of Lincoln’s head disappears in the tread, your tires have more than 2/32 of an inch of tread left and you don’t need to replace them. But if Lincoln’s head is still visible, it means your tread is worn beyond a safe level: it’s time for some new tires.


When you drive, your tires’ tread will wear over time from the friction on the ground. You should rotate your tires about every 5,000 miles - which for some people is about how often they get an oil change - to promote consistent wear. It’s important that all four of your tires have consistent wear to maintain traction on the road. Consider having your tire rotation done at the same time as your oil change so that you don’t forget.


Change Your Oil


Engine oil is like the bloodline of your vehicle. It keeps your engine lubricated despite all the closely grinding parts and heat that is created as a by-product of getting your vehicle to move and keeping it moving.


Without oil, your engine will eventually fail. It’s a good idea to keep regularly scheduled appointments with your dealership or mechanic to perform your oil changes, but you can keep an eye on it at home if you know how to check your oil.


To check your oil, make sure your engine is off before opening the hood of your vehicle and looking for the dipstick. Pull the dipstick out, wipe it clean of any oil, and look at the end for a line indicating what your oil level should be. Reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again to see your oil level; if it is below the notch, it’s time for some new oil. The color you want your engine oil to be is an amber, or close to yellow. If it’s a dark color and gritty to the touch, it may be time for an oil change.


It may seem harmless to procrastinate your oil changes a little bit but understand that the health of your vehicle’s motor - and thus, your vehicle’s ability to function - is at stake. Staying on top of oil changes is one of the most fundamental maintenance steps a vehicle owner should take.


Check Your Fluids


In addition to engine oil, there are other fluids that play important roles in the functioning of your vehicle and must be maintained accordingly. Transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, engine coolant, and windshield washer fluid all play integral parts in getting and keeping your vehicle moving safely.


The location of these fluids under the hood depends on the vehicle, so get to know the ins and outs of your vehicle including the locations of these reservoirs so that you can keep an eye on them and be prepared in a pinch.

       Transmission fluid is used in vehicles with both automatic and manual transmissions. This fluid is changed in intervals and can last anywhere between 30,000 and 100,000 miles, depending on the kind of fluid and transmission. Transmission fluid is needed for any transmission to run properly.

       Brake fluid, as its name suggests, is imperative to the functionality of your brakes. Brake fluid is used to amplify the effect of your foot depressing the brake, which allows you to stop. Brake fluid should be clear and plentiful in your reservoir. It’s usually changed about every three years.

       Power steering fluid, like brake fluid, is used to amplify the effect of the vehicle’s steering. Without power steering fluid, turning a vehicle’s wheel can be very difficult as the weight of the vehicle pins your wheels to the ground. This fluid should be bright red and is changed about every two years.

       Engine coolant, or antifreeze, is used to regulate the temperature of your vehicle. In colder times, engine coolant prevents fluids from freezing, which could cause damage. In warmer times and while the engine is running, coolant prevents overheating. Engine coolant is usually changed about every two years.

       Windshield washer fluid may not seem as pressing to keep up on as the previously mentioned fluids, but having it in your vehicle at all times is necessary to maintain a clear view of the road ahead. Keep an eye on your washer fluid level and replenish it as necessary.


Review Your Car Insurance


Another thing to add to your checklist is to regularly review your car insurance policy. There are several recurring tasks when it comes to owning a vehicle, and it can be easy to forget some of the less hands-on duties while trying to keep up with them all. Reviewing your car insurance can help you ensure your coverage is up to date and save you money and a headache if you have to make a claim.


New York State requires certain auto insurance coverages, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Bodily Injury Liability, Property Damage Liability, and Statutory Uninsured Motorist coverage, and depending on your vehicle and personal circumstances, you may wish to purchase additional coverages.


Communicate with your agent and research available coverages so that you can make sure the policies you purchase are appropriate for your situation.


Are you looking to add certain coverage to your vehicle? Contact an agent by clicking the button below today!