By Debbie Murphy/autoMedia.com
Even if your car's battery is sealed, check the cables and terminals for
corrosion. That hairy, green growth that accumulates around the terminals
should be cleared out before it robs your battery of starting power. If it's
not sealed, check to make sure the water level is adequate. If you have a
question, check your owner's manual.
Check fluids and top off whatever fluids are below a safe level. A good,
old-fashioned oil change is one of the best gifts you can give your car. Other
fluid-dependent systems include automatic transmissions and power steering
systems. Don't forget the window washer fluid, best checked before you've got
a windshield with thousands of dead bug bodies encrusted on it.
Check your air and fuel filters (the latter may not be readily accessible,
however). What you want to see is a clean filter; what you may see is one
clogged with particles. This is especially true of an air filter, since its
job is to remove damaging particles before they get to the combustion chamber.
The interval between changes of an air filter depends on your driving
conditions: dirt roads or urban driving clogs filters much more quickly than
more benign conditions. Oil filters should be changed with every, or every
other, oil change. Fuel filters have a decent life span, but still warrant a
quick check, if possible.
Inspect your tire tread condition and air pressure. Uneven tread wear is a red
flag that your alignment needs checking. If you drive too long on a bad
alignment, other suspension components could be damaged as a result. To make
things easier, the ideal pressure for both fully loaded and minimal load
conditions are in the driver's doorjamb.
Hoses & Belts Check
Visually check hoses and belts for cracks or other signs of wear. Replacement
of frayed belts or decrepit hoses at your convenience, rather than when they
break, is your reward. No matter how high-tech the engine, one automotive
truism is that all hoses are to be attached at both ends and belts are to be
taut. This sounds silly, but with complex emissions components, your vehicle
can actually function with an errant hose, but shouldn't.
Your next task is to check all your lights: headlamps at both low and high
beam, turn signals, and brakes. Now, the final job: mark your calendar, three
months from today, for your next modern-day tune-up.