Whether your vehicle is your pride and joy or just the tool you depend on to reliably transport yourself back and forth to work or errands, you want to get the most value for your dollar. Arizona weather conditions present their own unique challenges to your car, and higher mileage vehicles require special care. Performing some regular checks and maintenance on your car can go a long way toward making your car safe and saving you money.
10-Step Maintenance Checklist
Follow this 10-step used car maintenance checklist to make sure your vehicle is up to speed and safe to drive:
Start with the Fluids
It’s a good idea in the hot, dry air to carry a bottle of water around to quench your thirst and replenish your fluids. In the same way, your car may need fluids checked a bit more often than those in cooler, less-arid climates.
Check your engine coolant overflow tank every few weeks to ensure it’s at the full mark. Top off windshield washer fluids, and check your oil at the same time. Higher mileage cars will benefit from using oil designed specifically to extend older engines.
Often overlooked fluids include your transmission fluid, which helps your car shift gears, and brake fluid, which provides the pressure to the brake pad to stop your vehicle. Brake fluid is especially vulnerable in high heat, as it can reduce or eliminate your ability to stop if it has boiled away.
Inspect the Tires
Tires regularly build up heat from friction with the road. When the asphalt is hot, that friction eats away at your tread more quickly than normal. Keep a close eye on your tires’ tread for wear.
A good rule of thumb is to take a penny, hold it with Lincoln’s head down and facing you, and place it in the tread of your tires. If the top of Lincoln’s head is showing, the tread is worn down to the point that it is time to replace the tires. Also, checking the tires’ inflation regularly can save on gas and keep tread wear to a minimum.
Radiator hoses carry fluid to and from the engine and radiator. Over time, the rubber hoses can dry out and develop cracks. Arizona heat speeds this up as well, and higher mileage cars may still have the original hoses the car came with from the factory.
If those small cracks develop into a leak, you could be stranded on the side of the road with an overheated engine. Check your hoses regularly for cracks, especially near the ends where the clamps are.
The rubber belts in your vehicle transfer energy from the engine to parts like the alternator (which charges your battery), the power steering pump and, most important of all perhaps, the air conditioner. Like your hoses, the belts’ wear is sped up by the Arizona heat. The belts also deal with the friction of turning the pulleys of those accessories.
Check the tension on the belts every few months and have them adjusted if loose. Keep an eye out for any signs the belts are cracking or wearing out.
Extreme temperatures accelerate a battery’s chemical reaction, which can cause internal fluids to evaporate quickly. Help maintain the life of your battery by checking the battery terminals every few months for any signs of corrosion. This can be easily cleaned off with a battery terminal brush available for just a few dollars at any auto parts store.
Your windshield wipers may spend days and weeks parked just under your windshield, but when rain comes along, you need them to operate at peak efficiency. Remaining dry and unused for long periods not only speeds up wipers’ decay, but also keep you from noticing that your wipers are wearing out until it is too late.
Inspect wiper blades for cracks in the rubber and run your washer fluid periodically to make sure the wipers are still working properly.
For your engine to run, it needs fuel, a spark and air for combustion. The air filter’s job is to keep dirt and debris from getting into your engine, which can dramatically reduce your engine’s life. Keep your car supplied with clean, fresh air by replacing your air filter every 60,000 miles.
Once a year, inspect your brake pads for wear. Friction with the rotor wears down the pads over time, and hot brake pads wear down even faster. Generally, you should see at least ¼ inch of brake pads – any less than that and it is time to get them replaced.
Between inspections, if your vehicle pulls to one side or the other when braking, or shudders when stopping, it may be time for an inspection. Additionally, if you hear that tell-tale squealing sound begin to come from your brakes, you should get them inspected or replaced.
Inspect Your Lights
Once a month, check the lights all around your vehicle. Headlights, brake lights, turn signals and parking lamps should all be in good working order. This is important for your safety and the safety of the drivers around you.
You don’t see your own tail lights on a regular basis, so get in the habit of making a regular check to see if they are still working. Why wait for a police officer to inform you of the problem?
Check Your Manual
The owner’s manual for your vehicle has the information regarding how often the different components of your car need maintenance. It will also provide you with illustrations of where to look for parts like the brake fluid reservoir or transmission fluid that you might not be familiar with. The owner’s manual is full of invaluable information for maintaining your vehicle and extending the life of your car. If you don’t find yours in your glove compartment, search online or get one of the Haynes Manuals at your auto parts store.
By following this Arizona Car Maintenance Checklist, you can get the most value out of your vehicle and extend the life of your car.
When You’re Looking to Skip the Used Car Maintenance Checklist
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Red Mountain Funding has been a trustworthy company helping Arizonans for more than 20 years with an easy loan approval process and an honest and affordable option for you if you’ve had hiccups with your credit. If you are looking for affordable used car or car loan, come by and see us today.
I’m a kid at heart disguised as an auto researcher and business owner. I’ve always enjoyed providing insight in the form of reviews (anime, video games, autos, etc.) When I’m not researching, I’m spending time with my family, driving my Dodge Challenger, riding my motorcycle, and finding new entrepreneurial pursuits.