Avoid these common maintenance mistakes

In order to work optimally, vehicles require regular preventative maintenance. While not all maintenance schedules are the same, all vehicles require maintenance to help ensure a longer lifespan. However, it isn't always easy to have preventative maintenance measures performed regularly. Besides the obvious cost implications, we have obligations that can sometimes prevent us from maintaining our vehicles as stated in our owners manuals. To help you prioritize and plan, here is a list of twelve car maintenance mistakes a person can make and what you can do to avoid them.

Ignoring the Check Engine Light

It can be easy to ignore the Check Engine light. The light comes on and your car seems to be operating as it normally would and you might figure that everything is fine, and you can take care of it soon. But other things come up, it gets put off, and one day your car could break down. As difficult as it might be to find the time to have your vehicle seen by a Toyota of Greenville service technician when that dashboard light first comes on, it really is best to have it seen as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the higher the costs could be for repairs.

Not Checking your Tire Pressure

It is a common mistake to forget to check the air pressure in one's tires because, from the looks of it, the tires are properly inflated. Even when tires appear to be properly inflated, they could be low on air. While the tires may not blow out, low tire pressure could lead to poor fuel efficiency. It is also easy for tires to lose air pressure - as easy as running over a pothole. The weather outside has a big effect on your tire pressure. Tires lose 1 to 2 lbs. of air pressure for every 10° the temperature drops outside. Check your tire pressure regularly because you never know when it might be low.

Ignoring your TPMS Light

If your Tire Pressure Monitoring System light activates, check your tire pressure. Your TPMS light serves as a warning system informing you when one or more of your tires is deflated beyond what is considered safe by your vehicle's manufacturer. If this light comes on while you are driving, pull over somewhere safe and verify whether your tire is losing air. If needed, add air. Occasionally your TPMS sensor may require replacement. If your TPMS is indicating a loss of air pressure, but when you check your tire, all is well, consider TMPS sensor replacement. In addition to the benefits of checking your tire pressure, balanced tires promote even tire wear, resulting in a longer tire life and better fuel economy. If you believe your TPMS light is faulty, Toyota of Greenville offers a Free Tire Pressure Monitoring System Check-up.

Skipping Oil Changes

Motor oil and car engine technology has advanced so much over the years that it may no longer be necessary to get an oil change every 3,000 miles - the average oil change interval is over 7,000 miles for today's cars. This is great news because it means less time and money spent taking your vehicle for an oil change. However, this does not mean that oil changes can be skipped. Your vehicle's engine needs motor oil to operate properly and without it, the engine seizes up and dies. In order for motor oil to keep your engine running, the oil can't be too old. If motor oil is left in an engine for too long, the oil begins to break down, which can lead to nasty sludge in your engine. Instead of lubricating and cooling the engine parts, the oil sludge can damage the parts, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.

Neglecting Fluid Checks

It's a misconception that motor oil is the only fluid in the car that needs to be checked and changed. It's true that motor oil is one of the more critical fluids in your vehicle, but don't forget that there are many other fluids in the car that should be checked, exchanged, and/or topped off. Transmission fluid, brake fluid, engine coolant, and power steering fluid should all be checked and serviced as recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer. Doing this helps to avoid leaks and keep your vehicle operating properly.

Still Driving when the Engine is Overheating

An engine gets extremely hot when it runs, requiring a cooling system to avoid overheating. When that system fails (and it can happen to anyone), the vehicle needs to be stopped immediately. In this situation, the best idea is to turn the car off and call for a tow.

Not Using Filters as Recommended

Filters need to be as clean as possible in order to work optimally. Clean filters keep dirt particles and other contaminants from entering your vehicle's fuel, air conditioning or engine systems. Dirty air filters can lead to a lot of issues ranging from causing poor gas mileage to making your engine seize or wearing out system components.

Not Inspecting the Brakes

It's easy to ignore that squealing noise that comes from worn-down brakes. It is easy to convince yourself there is time to spare before you check or that the noise is coming from another car. Brakes are one of the most important components of your car. If they are worn down or not working properly, your vehicle becomes unsafe. So if you hear a squealing or grinding noise when you brake, have your brake system evaluated as soon as possible by the Toyota of Greenville service team.

Not Rotating Tires/Neglecting to get A Wheel Alignment

This can be a simple thing to overlook because you can drive for quite a while without getting an alignment or rotating your tires. Misaligned wheels can and will result in real issues. There is only one way to be positive that your tires are properly aligned, and that is to have your vehicle's alignment checked by the Toyota of Greenville service center. If a wheel alignment is recommended, it is in your best interest to have it performed. As for tire rotation, most manufacturers recommend that tires be rotated every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, but check your owner's manual to make sure of the proper recommended range.

Servicing your Own Vehicle without the Proper Know-How

A computer monitors various sensors inside the car and uses those sensors to regulate things like idle speed, spark plugs, and fuel injectors, among other important functions. If something goes wrong, the computer can sense it and will activate your vehicle's Check Engine light to alert you to the fact that there is an issue. Since your vehicle is computerized (i.e. complicated), it can be tremendously difficult to fix something yourself if you don't have the proper tools, diagnostic equipment, and knowledge. As much as it might cost to have a Toyota of Greenville technician look at your car, you can rest assured that your vehicle will get serviced and/or repaired correctly.

Not Changing your Windshield Wipers

Windshield wipers degrade over time, no matter what. They tear, they chatter and, as a result, leave a streak behind. Change your wipers as soon as they don't clear the windshield well. As they age, wiper blades will leave behind annoying streaks, indicating that it is time to change them. Snow, rain, sleet, and other precipitation can severely cut down on your ability to see the road and other vehicles clearly so changing your wipers when they wear out is very important.

Using Home Glass Cleaner to Clean your Rear Windshield

Most home glass cleaners use ammonia as a primary cleaning agent. Over time, ammonia will break down the heating elements in your rear windshield. The thin red lines you see are actually small wires designed to bring heat to your windshield to assist with defrosting. It is much safer to use window cleaner designed for automotive glass.