Maintenance Basics to Give Longer Life to Your Vehicle

November 12th, 2021 by

A mechanic is shown looking at a car engine during a Chicagoland Nissan service.

If you happen to be new to car ownership, it may seem like a distant concern to worry about maintaining your vehicle. Whether it’s new or used, every vehicle needs regular maintenance to keep it running safely, but certain aspects of maintenance are vital to keeping your car running at all. Go for too long without changing your oil, for instance, and such a mistake can be catastrophic for the engine. City driving in particular can be tough on vehicle systems in Chicagoland; Nissan service can help you keep tabs on all of it. And you might be thinking, “What can regular vehicle maintenance help achieve?”

It’s important to keep certain types of maintenance in mind when you own a vehicle of any kind, and every manufacturer includes a schedule in the owner’s manual, so your car, truck, or SUV enjoys a longer, safer life. Keep up with regular maintenance, and your vehicle really will last longer and stay in better condition, especially if you stick to what the manufacturer suggests for each time period to replace or inspect specific items. An oil change is one of the easiest items to check off the list and one of the best preventions against engine failure. Other things like brake systems, tires, and fluid levels can also maintain the health of your vehicle as well as keep you safer on the road.

Changing the Oil

With new synthetic oil, it’s not necessary to change the oil as often as in the past, but it still needs to be changed at the recommended times appropriate for your vehicle. When you run a vehicle, the oil keeps the moving parts of the engine lubricated, but heat from friction will cause the oil to break down. Air brought in to keep the engine cool also carries in dirt and other particulate matter that gets into the oil. Over time, the oil gets thicker and can become sludgy, which means it no longer properly lubricates moving engine parts, increasing friction.

As you can imagine, the dirty, thick oil makes the engine work harder, and if it doesn’t properly lubricate the moving parts, it also causes damage when parts scrape against each other. The engine is one of the most expensive parts to fix in a vehicle, and keeping it free of damage from old oil is one of the simplest ways to make it last longer. If you go too long, oil can simply dissipate, and then your engine can seize, a fatal problem which will mean your engine must be replaced. Avoid such problems by following your owner’s manual for oil changes, and most engines today will reward you with a long life that could run over 200,000 miles.

A mechanic is shown rotating a tire during a Chicagoland Nissan service.

Rotating and Replacing Tires

Tires are one of the most important means for maintaining safe stopping power, and they ensure your vehicle handles properly when turning or taking curves in the road. Tread on your tires serves to keep your vehicle from slipping on the pavement and maintains contact with whatever surface you’re driving on. When your tire tread wears down, it becomes less capable of gripping surfaces, and your braking times will increase. That means you are more likely to skid in slippery conditions like snow or gravel, and you may not be able to stop in time to avoid an accident if you need to stop quickly.

Having your tires inspected regularly catches problems like uneven wear or tread that has worn too much to be safe. When tires wear unevenly, rotating them is a simple solution to make your tires last longer. If the tread is too far gone, new tires are the safest choice to prevent potential accidents before they happen. Drivers who frequently put a lot of miles on their vehicle from long commutes, delivery jobs, or drive a lot of miles on the highway should have their tires inspected more often for signs of wear.

Brake Inspection and Replacement

Like tires, brakes are another part of your vehicle that keeps you safe. Letting brakes go without an inspection or replacement for too long can mean your brakes could fail if you aren’t aware of a problem in the system. Brakes work by applying pressure to pads that slow the wheels down, which results in the vehicle coming to a stop. Within the braking system, several parts work together to make this process function properly, such as the brake pads, rotors, calipers, and fluid. If any of the parts of the system rust, get broken, or are damaged, this directly affects the vehicle’s ability to stop safely.

It goes without saying that being able to stop your vehicle is a must, and regular inspection of your brakes can catch any potential problems before they occur. Because oil changes should be conducted on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to have your brakes checked at the same time, but follow the recommended instructions in the vehicle owner manual for specific information about brake maintenance for your car. Any time you notice your brakes feel spongy or the brakes squeal, it’s a good idea to visit our Nissan service center. Keeping the brake fluid clean and at good levels, as well as having pads replaced, are two of the least expensive ways to maintain your brakes.

A close up of a mechanic is shown inspecting engine fluid levels.

Fluid Level Inspection

Aside from the oil and brake fluid, most vehicles have a number of different types of fluid to keep the vehicle running smoothly. The transmission shifts gears to allow your vehicle to pick up speed or slow down, and fluid in the transmission keeps everything moving as it should. Radiators keep a vehicle cool, and fluid levels must be maintained to prevent overheating. Windshield washers use fluid to spray your windshield when it gets dirty, and running out of fluid can mean your visibility is compromised. Each of these is important for the operation of the vehicle, and having fluid levels checked during an oil change is a simple way to prevent running out and having a break-down or problem when you’re on the road. Occasional flushing of fluids is also recommended, and drivers should follow manufacturer recommendations.

Light Inspection and Bulb Replacement

If you’ve ever been stopped by a police officer who gave you a ticket for having a brake light out, you were probably annoyed by the inconvenience. That alone is enough of a reason to have your lights checked when you get an oil change, but there are other reasons to keep your lights working. Bulbs can blow out on occasion, and you may not notice that a signal light or brake light is out unless another driver is kind enough to let you know. It may not seem like a big deal for a light to be out, but if your signal light isn’t working and you go to change lanes on a busy highway, your broken signal light could cause a deadly accident when other drivers don’t know where you’re going.

Brake lights serve to caution other drivers that you’re slowing down so they can slow down, too, but they also make your vehicle visible in poor lighting. Without working brake lights, other motorists may not see you in time to stop or avoid you if you slow down. Headlights are another important safety feature for obvious reasons, and letting our service techs take the time to make sure all your lights are functional can save your life on a dark highway.

Keep Your Nissan Maintained

Each of these vehicle systems is part of the safe functioning of your vehicle that keeps it running the way it should. If you have a performance vehicle like a sports car or off-road SUV, such maintenance becomes even more important. Safety is the highest priority, but spending small amounts of money to maintain your vehicle’s systems means you potentially prevent expensive problems from happening if your vehicle breaks down at inopportune times.