It’s back to school season, and you know what that means: more drivers on the road as teens and young adults alike go back to schools across the region. But for students returning to school, navigating traffic to and from class shouldn’t be the only car-related concern they are paying attention to. It is extremely important that you make sure to take care of your vehicle to help keep it running strong all semester long. Here is our list of the most important things that you should be doing for your vehicle on a regular basis.
Check Your Fluid Levels
One of the most important things you can do to take care of your vehicle is to make sure you don’t run it with low fluid levels. This includes your oil, coolant/antifreeze, brake, transmission, and power steering fluid. Letting any of these fluids run low can cause serious damage to your engine. While checking some of these may seem a little bit complicated, they are all equipped with either a dipstick or a “full” line on the reservoir. If you aren’t sure where some are, your owner’s manual will usually have a diagram to show you.
Check Your Lights
Your vehicle is equipped with quite a few different lights to both help you see and let other people know where you are going. If any of these lights go out, it can pose a hazard to your safety and even get you a ticket, but it isn’t always easy to tell when this happens. Make sure to check your lights every month so you can change them as soon as they go out.
Pay Attention to Your Brakes
You may be surprised to learn that, when it comes to worn or damaged brakes, the signs are often easy to read even if you know nothing about vehicle maintenance. If you hear squeaking, squealing or other noises at any time you use your vehicle’s brakes, chances are that they need to be replaced. A good rule of thumb is to have your brakes inspected every time you have your tires rotated.
Check Your Tire Air Pressure
One of the most common maintenance tasks for vehicles is tire care, and it is a task that is especially important during winter. Tires that are overinflated have less contact with the road, which means that they get less traction. It also means that the middle treads will wear down more quickly than the outer treads, which can drastically reduce the tires’ longevity. Tires that are instead underinflated have too much of the tread in contact with the road, which increases friction, and in turn increases heat build-up in the tread. Both issues will contribute to increased tire wear and can even result in tread separation and blowouts. Checking your pressure is as easy as using a very inexpensive gauge and topping them off when needed.
Check Your Wiper Blades & Washer Fluid
Getting caught in a storm with wiper blades that are worn out, or an empty washer fluid reservoir, isn’t just annoying – it can also be dangerous. Being able to see out of your windshield is key to ensuring that you can navigate the road safely. Checking blades is easy: just look for any wear/chipping to the rubber and replace if needed. Topping off your washer fluid is as simple as flipping open the reservoir lid and filling it up.
Stock Your Travel Emergency Kit
Even the best running car can break down in certain circumstances. Be sure to keep the following in your vehicle in case of emergency:
- A properly inflated spare tire and jack
- Flares or reflective devices to alert other drivers of a breakdown
- A flashlight
- A small tool kit
- Jumper cables
- A first-aid kit
In snowy or icy areas, you should also keep:
- An ice scraper with brush
- A small shovel
- A blanket
Check Your Seatbelts – and Wear Them
This should go without saying, of course, but we’ve all been in a hurry once and forgotten to put our seatbelt on. Most modern vehicles will chime if you aren’t wearing your belt, but if you have an older vehicle, you’ll have to remember on your own. While they may be a little uncomfortable (and maybe make your nice new school clothes a bit wrinkled), wearing a seatbelt is what ensures that people can walk away from a car accident injury-free.
Check Your Owner’s Manual
Your owner’s manual may not be the most exciting thing you’ll ever read, but it is full of valuable information about your vehicle. All new cars come with one, and most used cars will have one as well. They contain information on all the features and operating parts of your car, as well as how often you should be getting certain services done, like your fluid changes.
We hope these tips have helped make you more informed about what you can do to care for your vehicle for the school season. Your neighborhood Chicagoland Jiffy Lube® is here to help you with all your regular maintenance, as well as complete any necessary repairs that may come up. If you’re ever in doubt about when something should be done, or if your vehicle seems to be operating differently, stop by anytime for a free back to school vehicle inspection! Our technicians will give your vehicle a thorough inspection to ensure everything is working as it should be, and to let you know if there are any important repairs that should be done. It’s our way of helping to keep our students safe on the road all school year long.
Jiffy Lube® recommends following manufacturer recommendations, where applicable, for maintenance schedules and service intervals.
Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube® location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube® service center for specific services offered.
Go to ChicagolandJiffyLube.com for services and locations in Chicagoland, Rockford, Northwest Indiana, and Southeast Wisconsin.
Jiffy Lube® Service Centers are owned and operated by independent franchisees.