Car & Truck Maintenance

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Maintenance & Detailing

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Tools & Supplies

Car and Truck Maintenance

Cars and trucks represent some of the biggest investments you'll make in your lifetime. Keeping them in good shape with proper maintenance is a must. Regular care can address the effects of wear and tear, promoting a smooth, safe ride for years.

From restored classics to modern daily commuters, caring for your car or truck at home can be a rewarding and cost-effective experience.

Why Is Maintaining a Car or Truck Important?

There are countless reasons to prioritize good vehicle maintenance. One is to encourage solid performance as long as possible. Cars and trucks can last for decades, but they require ongoing care to do so.

Failing to perform regular maintenance can lead to substantial performance dips. That means less power from the engine, decreased fuel efficiency, and more. Plus, it can make the vehicle's value plummet faster than it should.

More importantly, maintenance keeps your vehicle safe to drive. Regular wear can slowly decrease your car or truck's overall reliability, which increases your risks on the road.

Maintenance is also essential to avoiding costly repairs and downtime. Major repairs can cost a fortune and seriously disrupt your life. Regular maintenance is more affordable, and many tasks are easy to do at home.

Maintenance You Can Do Yourself

  • Cleaning and detailing – How often you clean your vehicle depends on how you use it. However, regular cleanings will protect your car or truck's paint finish. Use car wash soap to rid the exterior of dirt. You can also use bug & tar removers to tackle stubborn stains. Follow up with waxes and polishes for lasting protection. Wipe every surface inside, and use a vehicle vacuum to clean seats, floors, and more.
  • Oil changes – Check your vehicle's oil quality and levels monthly. The standard for oil changes is one every three months, but you can check to determine if you need one sooner.
  • Air filter changes – There are two air filters you need to change periodically: the engine air filter that blocks particulates and the cabin filter that cleans the air when you turn your AC on. Change both at least once a year.
  • Tire checks – Make a habit of inspecting your tires. Use an air pressure gauge to confirm each tire has the pressure it needs based on manufacturer recommendations. Then, check the treads for excessive wear.
  • Wiper blade replacements – Change the wiper blades every six months to a year. The quality of your wipers and washers helps you drive safely no matter the weather.
  • Fluid refills – Check the levels of performance-based fluids and chemicals such as those in your transmission system and radiator. You can also replenish washer fluids.

Essential Tools and Supplies

A comprehensive collection of tools and supplies can simplify your maintenance duties.

To work on various maintenance tasks, you'll need many hand tools. They include hand wrenches, torque wrenches, and sockets & socket tools. You can also pick up power tools like impact wrenches. Additional gear like battery testers and chargers, diagnostic service tools, and wash wax & cleaning kits can also be useful.

It's a good idea to stay stocked with fluids, cleaning solvents, and other essential supplies, too.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Maintenance

Most of your maintenance duties will revolve around short-term tasks. However, there are also several maintenance tasks you'll have to do less frequently. While you don't need to worry about long-term maintenance as often, they're still important to your car or truck's overall performance and safety.

  • Battery replacement – In most cars and trucks, battery replacements are necessary every four to five years.
  • Spark plug replacement – Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture in combustion engines. You need to replace them every 100,000 miles.
  • Tire changes – It's important to change your tires every five to six years or whenever there's excessive tread wear.
  • Shock and strut inspection – Wear on the shocks and struts can impact ride smoothness and safety. Inspect these components every 50,000 miles to see if they need replacing.
  • Transfer case and differential fluid changes – Fluids draw heat away from the gears in transfer cases of four-wheel drive vehicles. It needs replacing every 20,000 to 30,000 miles. Meanwhile, differential fluid maintains functionality in front and rear differentials. It's best to replace the fluid every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.