By SAUL ROSAStaff Writer
When most students hear about vehicle maintenance the first thing that comes to mind is dollar signs; however, with the words “new vehicle” the thought is debt. In order to avoid the latter of the two an owner of a vehicle should understand the basics of vehicle maintenance.
Every vehicle comes with an owner’s manual that explains when maintenance is needed, but many mechanics admit that generalized estimates are available.
“Maintenance, that’s the most important thing you can do to your vehicle. Every vehicle should have an owners manual that explains when and how to do the maintenance,” said Dwayne Wilson, owner of Vern’s Place 4 Parts, 263 Irving Ave. Millville .
The basics of automobile maintenance includes checking fluid levels, checking belts for wear and tear, examining tires for damage, and replacing filters.
Fluids are essential and maintaining levels is vital. The fluids that should be monitored regularly are engine oil, antifreeze/coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid.
For engine oil, be sure to check not only the levels, but the cleanliness as well. For safety, never remove a radiator cap while the engine is hot.
Filters, as you might guess, filter out anything that can damage your vehicle. The major filters are the air filter, oil filter, and fuel filter.
According to DMV.org the air filter should be changed every 15,000 miles and can be visually examined for build-up. The oil filter is often changed with the oil at about every 3000 – 7500 miles; however, the sooner, the better. The fuel filter can be clogged with rust and debris and should be replaced about every 30,000 miles.
There are many belts under the hood and the owner should inspect these belts for damage. If the belts are worn, the initial grooves are gone, and it is important that these belts are replaced as soon as possible. The cost should be minimal but the time and money saved in the long run will compensate the initial cost.
“Inspect them for cracks. I recommend that when you service your vehicle check your hoses and check your belts. Look for anything out of place that looks like it’s going to cause damage: cracks, wear, frayed wires,” said Wilson.
Tires are obviously exposed to more dangers than most other parts of a vehicle, and should be examined regularly for cuts, bulges, or objects stuck in them. If a tire is damaged, it’s best to replace it rather than wait for the inconvenience and danger of blowing one on the road.
If the tires look good and are not too worn (the metal lacing is visible or the tread is too smooth), then it’s also beneficial to rotate your tires every 6000 miles, because tires do not wear out evenly.
He explained that every vehicle is different and one vehicle may need to crisscross the tires while another might need to switch front tires with back ones.
“Keep them inflated to the proper specifications; rotate them about every 600 miles,” said Wilson. “Properly inflated wheels keep the car running smooth and burns less fuel.”
Essentially, maintaining a vehicle is the best way to increase its longevity and save the owner money from repairs or the cost of a new vehicle.
Wilson said,“If they take care of the vehicle it’s going to last them.”