Essential Preventative Maintenance for Your Used Car | OK Carz

Maintaining a vehicle is crucial for ensuring its longevity and reliability, especially for those who have opted for a used car. Whether you’ve secured your vehicle through traditional financing or through a buy here pay here dealership like OK Carz, understanding the basics of preventative maintenance can save you time, money, and prevent potential breakdowns. This guide will delve into the most basic essential checks and maintenance tasks every used car owner should know and perform regularly.

The Importance of Basic Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is the cornerstone of car care. It not only ensures your vehicle remains in good working condition but also helps identify potential issues before they escalate into costly repairs. Regular checks and maintenance can improve your car’s performance, fuel efficiency, and safety, ultimately extending its lifespan. If you choose to purchase from a regular buy here pay here near you instead of a buy here pay here dealership that reconditions their vehicle like OK Carz, it's particularly important to maintain the vehicle well to ensure you get the most out of your investment.

Engine Oil Check

How to Check:

To check your engine oil, ensure your car is on level ground and the engine is cool. Pull out the engine oil dipstick, wipe it clean, reinsert it fully, and then pull it out again to check the oil level. The oil should be between the min and max marks on the dipstick.

Indicators of a Problem:

Low oil level: Indicates oil consumption or leaks.

Dark, dirty oil: Suggests it's time for an oil change.

Milky oil: Could indicate coolant leaking into the oil. This can be a serious issue!

What to do:
If the oil level is low, top it up as soon as possible and check for leaks.

If the oil is dirty or milky, schedule an oil change or further diagnostics to address potential problems.

Tire Maintenance

How to Check:

Inspect your tires monthly for wear and tear. Use a penny to check the tread depth by inserting it into the tread groove with the top of Lincoln’s head pointing down. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, it's time to replace the tire. Also, check for any cuts, bulges, or other damage on the sidewalls.

Check the tread wear this way in several places around the tire and on the inside, middle, and outside treads.

Indicators of a Problem:

Uneven tire wear:
If the treads toward the inside AND the outside (both) are more worn than the middle tread, this is a sign you may have been driving with your tires underinflated.

If the tread in the middle is more worn than BOTH the inside AND the outside treads, this is a sign you may have been driving with your tires overinflated.

If the treads on the inside OR the outside (one or the other, but NOT both) are worn, OR the treads are worn in uneven areas around the tire, this can be an indicator of misalignment or suspension issues.

Bulges or blisters: Weak spots that could lead to tire blowouts.

What to Do:

Rotate your tires regularly to promote even wear and replace them if the tread is too worn or if there are any signs of damage. Keep tires properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If your tire wear indicates misalignment or suspension issues, schedule an appointment with a qualified mechanic to further diagnose the issue.

*Other possible indicators of misalignment are an off-center steering wheel, or the vehicle pulling to one side or the other as you drive down the road. If you notice either of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with a qualified mechanic to further diagnose them as well.

Brakes Check

How to Check:

Listen for any unusual noises when braking, such as grinding or squealing. Check the brake fluid level in the reservoir; it should be between the "Min" and "Max" marks. Inspect the brake pads for wear; most pads have wear indicators that will make a noise when they are too thin.

Indicators of a Problem:

Grinding noise: Indicates that brake pads are worn down to the metal.

Spongy brake pedal: Can indicate air in the hydraulic system or worn brake pads.

Vibrations when braking: May suggest warped rotors.

What to Do:

If you notice any of these issues, it’s critical to have your brakes inspected and serviced by a professional to ensure your safety on the road.

Battery Maintenance

How to Check:

Inspect the battery terminals for corrosion and ensure they are tight and clean. Check the battery case for cracks or bulges, which can indicate a failure. Most car batteries also have an indicator that shows if the battery is in good condition.

Indicators of a Problem:

Slow engine crank: Can indicate the battery is dying.

Corroded terminals: Can lead to poor connections and battery failure.

Swollen battery case: Indicates the battery has been exposed to excessive heat and is at risk of failing.

What to Do:

Clean corroded terminals with a brush and a mixture of baking soda and water. If the battery is more than three years old or shows signs of failing, consider replacing it to avoid being stranded.

Cooling System Check

How to Check:

Ensure the engine is cool before checking the coolant level in the overflow tank; it should be within the operating range. Inspect hoses for cracks, leaks, or signs of wear.

Indicators of a Problem:

Low coolant level: Can lead to overheating.

Leaks in the cooling system: Can cause the engine to overheat.

White smoke from the exhaust: May indicate a head gasket leak.

What to Do:

Top up the coolant if the level is low and schedule a repair if there are leaks or signs of a head gasket issue.

Benefits of Reconditioned Vehicles

Purchasing a vehicle that has been thoroughly reconditioned and had all these items checked prior to purchase can offer peace of mind. Top-level buy here pay here dealerships like OK Carz invest in making sure the car is in excellent condition. This means less immediate maintenance for you, a smoother driving experience, and potentially a longer lifespan for the vehicle.

Be Consistent

Though there is no replacement for a qualified mechanic and regularly scheduled service visits, consistent preventative maintenance is essential for keeping your used car running smoothly and reliably. By performing these basic checks and addressing any issues promptly, you can enjoy a safer, more efficient, and potentially longer-lasting vehicle. Remember, investing a little time and effort in maintenance and purchasing from a dealership with a meticulous reconditioning process like OK Carz can save you from costly repairs and inconvenience down the road.

Car Care Council: For comprehensive guides on vehicle maintenance and care.

AAA Auto Repair and Maintenance Advice: Offers detailed advice on car maintenance and repairs, including battery care and tire maintenance.

Edmunds Car Maintenance Section: Provides in-depth articles on various aspects of car maintenance and troubleshooting.

Consumer Reports Car Maintenance Guide: Features tips and advice on maintaining your vehicle, including brake system care.

Kelley Blue Book (KBB) Car Care Guide: Offers insights and guidelines on vehicle care, from oil checks to cooling system maintenance.