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Overlooked Maintenance Items

When you purchase a brand-new vehicle, the dealership will usually suggest various maintenance item checks through the lifecycle of the vehicle.  While some of this may be to drive additional revenue, many of these maintenance plans are designed to keep your new vehicle running in top shape as it ages.

Many vehicle owners tend to focus their maintenance on a few items – like oil changes or tire pressure checks.  However, there are many other maintenance tasks that should be included in any ongoing routine.  In this month’s blog, we review five maintenance tasks that often get overlooked until more serious problems emerge with the vehicle.

Wheel Alignment

Even if you are a careful driver when it comes to road hazards like potholes, curbs, or uneven surfaces, your tires/wheels still take a beating from the road.  Sometimes it may only be driving over a railroad crossing at a high speed to send your wheels out of alignment.  Aligned wheels mean that they are all facing in the same direction from various angles.  When they are not aligned, your driving experience may diminish, and you will notice specific symptoms such as:

  • Vehicle pulls to one direction when the hands are off the steering wheel
  • The steering wheel shakes or vibrates
  • The steering wheel does not return to neutral position after turning without increased effort from the driver
  • Your tire treads are prematurely worn or uneven

Suggested maintenance timeframe: 

Wiper Blades

Your wiper blades are not meant to last forever, especially when they are subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures.  A well-functioning windshield wiper will wipe the windshield clean, without leaving streaks.  It should operate smoothly without resistance or that squeaking noise.  As blades age, they will become brittle, broken, torn, or misshaped.

Don’t get caught with bad wiper blades in a heavy rainstorm or icing conditions.  Have them checked periodically for wear and tear, and make sure to include replacement of any rear wipers that you may have on your vehicle.

Suggested Maintenance Timeframe:

Cabin Air Filter

Within your engine, you have a filter that is used to clean the incoming air that goes into your vehicle cabin.  The cabin air filter keeps pollutants out like dirt, dust, and pollen and helps to maintain fresh cabin air.  Over time, this filter will become dirty and clogged, if not replaced.  If the filter is badly clogged, it may affect your heating and cooling system in other ways.  While it does not have to be changed as often as you might change the filter in your home air conditioning, filters do need to be monitored and replaced.

Suggested maintenance timeframe: 

  • Between 15-30K miles driven.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering is a system that assists the driver with steering motions.  This system enables steering and turning to function easier, and the fluid is an important component of the power steering system.  Power steering fluid lubricates the parts and provides the hydraulic pressure to help steering components work.

Fluid maintenance is important by checking the level and addressing any possible leaks.  Because this fluid is a reddish/pink color, you may be alerted to a possible leak by finding it on the ground beneath the vehicle.  Always take care of any possible leaks by having your vehicle inspected by a service professional.  Also, the quality of power steering fluid may diminish over time and turn from the reddish hue to a brown and foamy liquid.

Suggested Maintenance Timeframe:

  • Every 50K miles driven, or five years.

Brake Fluid

Having properly working brakes is a critical safety item for any driver.  The brake fluid in this system performs a similar function as power steering fluid – to hydraulically provide pressure to the braking components.  You want to make sure that your braking system maintains the right amount of braking fluid, otherwise this will impact the performance and safety of your brakes.  When the fluid is low, you may notice a different sensation when you depress the pedal.  A “soft” or cushiony sensation could indicate that your vehicle is low on brake fluid.  This is an important item to address at that time before it develops into a serious safety hazard.

When brake fluid is aged, it should be flushed and replaced with new, clean fluid.

Suggested Maintenance Timeframe:

If you are not diligent about keeping your vehicle well-maintained, now is the time to start.  Give the service professionals a call at Shade Tree Garage and speak with us about an ongoing maintenance schedule for your vehicle.  We will work with you to identify the best solution to meet your budget and vehicle needs.

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