While some drivers treat their vehicles like delicate glass figurines, other drivers view their vehicles as machines of practicality—the most efficient way to get from point A to point B. Whichever camp you fall in, you know that regular oil changes and preventative maintenance are two of the easiest ways to keep your car in good health. Even if car care isn’t your favorite topic of conversation, it pays to take it seriously. According to the Car Care Council, Americans spend over $2 billion each year as a result of accidents caused by neglected vehicle maintenance. Protect your wallet and improve your safety by remembering to take care of these six important (but often ignored) maintenance services.
No. 1: Differential Service
Here’s a fun physics fact: when your car turns a corner, the outside wheels travel more than the inside ones, meaning they have a higher RPM (or revolutions per minute). To help you turn corners smoothly and safely, your car is equipped with a mechanism that helps the wheels revolve at independent speeds. This set of gears and fluid is called the differential.
If your vehicle suffers from thin differential fluid or loose gears and bearings, you might hear whirring or rumbling when traveling over 15 mph, banging when rounding corners, or a high pitched howl while accelerating. If you hear any of those sounds, we recommend you bring your vehicle to your neighborhood Firestone Complete Auto Care as soon as possible. Differential fluid is one of your car’s many essential lubrication fluids, but it’s also one of the most forgotten due to the fact that it’s not serviced nearly as often as others.
If you don’t hear any strange sounds coming from your car’s undercarriage, you may not be off the hook quite yet. How often your car needs a differential check-up will depend on its make and model. Either way, it’s a good idea to have one of our ASE-certified technicians take a glance when you stop by for other regular maintenance.
No. 2: Wheel Alignment
Remember playing with toy cars and trucks as a kid? They never seemed to roll straight. While “energetic steering” on your part may have been to blame, it’s more likely that the wheels on your toy cars weren’t aligned very well.
Ideally, a vehicle’s wheels are even with each other and all pointed straight ahead. If your car starts pulling to one side or wearing unevenly, come find us before the problem gets worse. Poor alignment can negatively impact steering components and decrease your tires’ lifespan by thousands of miles. Yup. Thousands of miles. To better protect yourself (and your wallet), we recommend having your alignment checked every 6,000 miles or so.
No. 3: Timing Belt
Your engine’s timing belt regulates the timing (as you probably expected!) of the engine’s crankshaft and camshafts so that your car operates smoothly. If the belt isn’t functioning normally, you might experience difficulty starting your car, overheating, a loss of engine power, or squealing and chirping noises. If you experience any of these symptoms, your timing belt might need to be replaced.
To head off such issues, we recommend replacing the belt every 60,000 to 100,000 miles depending on your vehicle. Timing belts don’t like to give much notice before they fail, so talk to one of our technicians about your vehicle specifically. The technician will be able to examine your timing belt and provide you with a more accurate “timing” estimate for your timing belt.
No. 4: Transmission
If your car were a Thanksgiving feast, your transmission would be the gravy to your engine’s turkey. You can’t have one without the other! While the engine generates energy, the transmission transforms it into torque so that your car actually moves.
The transmission takes care of three important functions:
- transfers power to the wheels,
- engages engine power to move forwards or backwards,
- and enables the car to shift gears.
Without proper maintenance, your transmission could fail, leaving you stalled at an intersection and waiting for a tow. To avoid such an awkward and potentially expensive situation, start taking care of your transmission now. By regularly checking and changing transmission fluid and having your mechanic check transmission components during your vehicle’s regular maintenance, you can save yourself significant stress and cash down the road.
Pro Tip: Check your car’s warranty before signing up for any transmission repairs, as some manufacturer warranties offer extended coverage over transmissions—a potentially expensive repair.
No. 5: Brake Service
Just as you should get an annual physical from your doctor, you should get your brakes checked each year or more often, especially if something feels off. Your car’s braking system contains a delicate balance of pads, rotors, calipers, a brake hose, fluid, and more. A seemingly insignificant problem with any one of these parts could mean the difference between a safe stop and a dangerous veer into the unknown. With Firestone Complete Auto Care’s free brake check service, there’s no excuse for skipping your car’s regular check-up!
No. 6: Fuel System Cleaning
Every car is equipped with a fuel injector. This device takes the gasoline you pump into your car’s tank and transforms it into itsy bitsy particles that mix with the air to generate more efficient internal combustion in the engine. Over time, the fuel system accumulates varnish and fuel deposits, making the fuel injector less effective. By getting your fuel system cleaned annually (or however often your car’s manufacturer recommends), you can avoid a sloppy, sludged up system. As an added bonus, a cleaner fuel system could increase your vehicle’s fuel economy while also improving its general performance. Sounds like your car’s lucky day!
Putting off important car services such as these could cost you big bucks in the long run, but could also lead to dangerous driving situations. Cars may be created equal, but they don’t stay that way. Each and every car wears differently depending on where the car is driven, how it’s driven, and a host of other factors. Don’t wait until a small fix turns into a mountainous problem (you want to be out enjoying the real mountains this winter, right?). Schedule an appointment with a Firestone Complete Auto Care auto repair shop near you today!