Beyond A Routine Oil Change: Actively Prevent Two Major Car Repairs

Regular car maintenance is essential to extending the longevity of your vehicle, and can save you a lot of money on repairs in the long run. Most drivers know the oil and other fluids should be checked and changed regularly, depending on the car manufacturer's recommendations and how often you drive. It's also common knowledge to keep an eye on your car's tires, checking the pressure, alignment, and wear. Beyond that, car owners start to become a little more lax on preventative maintenance. Two major repairs revolve around the radiator and the serpentine belt, but you can avoid a surprise breakdown with a little diligence. 

Check On Your Radiator

Radiators work to maintain the temperature levels of the engine and other systems in a vehicle, and can have a number of problems pop up, from leaks, to low fluid, to a failed thermostat. Checking the coolant level is easy, as the tank typically sits right next to the radiator and is white in color, allowing you to quickly see how much is in there, as the fluid is blue-green. There should also be high and low markings on the side to help you gauge how well it's doing. Checking this regularly will help alert you to a possible leak that can be fixed before it becomes a bigger issue, leaving you stranded on the side of the highway. In an emergency, water can be used in place of radiator fluid, which is a 50-50 ratio of coolant and water, but it should not be used as a long-term solution, as it will quickly cause much more costly damage to the radiator.

Keep An Eye On The Serpentine Belt

The serpentine belt keeps many of a vehicle's important components running, including the alternator and the power steering pump. They are built to last a very long time, but if it snaps, your car will literally stop running and will no longer be driveable. This worst case scenario can easily be avoided through visual inspection. You can ask your service repairman for its status during an oil change, or you can pop open the hood and take a look yourself. A general rule of thumb is if there are as many cracks as there are ribs in one square inch of belt, it needs to be replaced. Put another way, if there are cracks three millimeters apart all over the belt, it should be replaced. Keeping track of this information will allow you to have the belt serviced at a convenient time and place, before a major problem has the chance to leave you without transportation.