Regular car maintenance is like taking care of your health – it keeps your ride in tip-top shape and helps prevent costly repairs down the road. Plus, when it’s time to say goodbye to your vehicle, detailed service records can actually increase its value! Taking care of your car can be a hassle, but trust us – it’s worth it.
Investing in maintenance now can save you a ton of money later on, especially if you ever experience a roadside breakdown (Call AAA!). Read the What, When, and Why, of car maintenance so you know exactly what to do during car ownership.
What It Does: Instead of a gas tank, EVs store their energy in a traction battery pack. Unlike the twelve-volt battery used by most cars to start engines and power accessories, a traction battery is much larger, operates at a much higher voltage, and powers an EV’s motor(s).
When It Needs Attention: The traction battery (like other batteries) gradually loses its capacity as it is charged and discharged. This is why an EV that is a few years old typically has less range than when new. And things like how the battery is charged and the climate it resides in can decrease its longevity. But how long the traction battery will last is a difficult question since a relatively small number of EVs have been around long enough to reach this point.
What AAA Says:Inspect the battery cable connections at every oil change and clean as needed. Always wear eye protection and gloves when servicing a battery.
What They Do: Belts and hoses are important to the cooling, air conditioning, and charging systems of the engine.
When They Needs Attention: Squeaking noise from under the hood during start-up or while in use, coolant leaks, dashboard light illuminated, A/C system not working, engine overheating, smell of burnt rubber.
AAA Says: Newer or more modern belt materials do not show easy signs of wear. As a general rule, replace the drive belts every 60,000 miles (about 96,560.64 km) or at the first sign of cracking.
What They Do: Brakes are the most critical system to ensure safe vehicle control and operation when stopping.
When They Need Attention: Car pulls to one side during braking, pulsating brake pedal or steering wheel shakes, brake pedals feel soft or spongey, unusual noise, odor or smoke when stepping on brakes, or it takes longer to stop your car.
AAA Says: Brakes should be inspected as recommended in your owner’s manual and/or at least every tire rotation. Also, check to see if the brake fluid should be changed at a specific interval; every two years is common. Everyday wear and tear occur on ALL brakes, and they will require replacement eventually. Avoid getting to the “metal on metal” point.
What It Does: The heart of your car. It converts energy from gasoline into mechanical work, or torque. That torque is applied to the wheels to make the car move. Engines need air (namely oxygen) to make the fuel burn.
When It Needs Attention: Loud or unfamiliar noises. Clunking sounds or trouble starting the car. Generally, vehicle systems signal “check engine”, which means something is wrong.
AAA Says: Have your engine checked as soon as the yellow warning light comes on. But, if the warning light is red, turn off the engine as quickly and safely as possible. It’s tempting to ignore it, but it can be a simple check from an AAA Approved Auto Repair shop to help determine what the exact issue may be. Also, it is important to follow all maintenance recommendations including timing belts replacement and other engine services. Be alerts of fuel system flush recommendations and stick with what the automaker recommends, not necessarily the dealer. Learn more: How Efficient is Your Car’s Engine?
What They Do: Cabin air filters help keep unwanted materials out of the interior of your car (where the people are!). They also help clean and trap dust and particles that are bad for your vehicle. There are also many other types of filters including oil, engine, cabin and transmission.
When They Need Attention: If while driving, the car isn’t as smooth, the issue could be a clogged air filter. Also, if airflow through your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system seems restricted or stuffy, you may need a new cabin filter.
AAA Says: The timing of when to replace filters can vary, so check your owner’s manual. Remember to keep track of when you change them. Cabin filters can range from 15,000 to 30,000 miles or more, depending on the vehicle and local driving conditions. Oil filters should be changed each time the oil is changed. Learn more:
What They Do: Tires are the only part of your car directly connected to the road. Frequently checking tire pressure, tread depth, tire balance and wheel alignment helps tires wear evenly and improves gas milage and safety.
When They Need Attention: Once the tread has reached 4/32” or less – this means it’s time to shop for new tires. Also, if you notice your car starting to drift or pull to one side when driving. This could mean the alignment is off or you have a tire going bad.
AAA Says: Did you know good tire pressure can improve your gas mileage which means you’re spending less to fill up? We recommend checking tire pressure at least twice a month, with a tire gauge. Tire gauges are available at most auto parts stores and there are three types: pen, digital and dial. Dial gauges are easier to read than pen or stick designs. Also, check the tread at the same time by inserting a quarter upside down into the grooves in the rubber of your tire. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to start shopping for new tires.
What It Does: Windshields play a critical safety role by keeping passengers inside the vehicle in a crash plus helping to support the roof in a rollover, reducing the chance of injuries! They also protect passengers from flying debris.
When It Needs Attention: Minor chips and very small cracks might be repaired, but any significant cracks or damage will require windshield replacement because the glass is connected to the body of the car and can weaken the overall safety of your windshield in the event of a crash.
AAA Says: It is important to regularly check the windshield and all vehicle glass for any problems. Seek the assistance of a certified technician before a crack continues to grow! Learn more: Windshield Repair and Replacement and How to Deice Your Car’s Windshield
What They Do: The wiper blades’ ability to clean the glass depends on the slope and area of the windshield, the amount of spring tension on the wiper arm, the number of pressure points or claws that hold the blade and the material used in the blade itself.
When They Need Attention: Streaking, chattering and noisy, the rubber blades are no longer soft and pliable. Look for hard, brittle, or damaged blades because those can break and allow the metal wiper arm to scratch the glass.
AAA Says: When buying blades, be sure the blade lengths are the same and match. Refills will not fit unless they are the same length as the original blades. Don’t forget the rear wipers! A clear back window is important too! Also, don’t forget the washer fluid – this helps your visibility by keeping the windshield clean and clear, making driving easier and safer. Learn more: Changing Windshield Wipers Seasonally