Do you often find yourself wondering how to take care of your vehicle correctly? Are you often unsure about whether to take your car to an auto repair center, or try fixing it yourself?
Whether you only have one car that you drive twice per week or several vehicles that you use constantly, it pays to know how to take care of your vehicle. To help you with that, in this article we’ll explain some top tips for taking care of all of your vehicles — from cars and motorcycles to boats and ATVs.
How to Take Care of Your Vehicle
First of all, let’s talk about how to take care of your vehicle, whether it be your car, pickup truck, or minivan. Lots of people let their main vehicle go weeks or even months without conducting any significant maintenance. But just because your car doesn’t need a visit to the auto body shop doesn’t mean it doesn’t need any care at all. Routine maintenance tasks are important for keeping your vehicle in good working order and prolonging its lifespan.
First of all, there are three things you should remember to do every second time you fill your tank with gas: clean your windshield, check your tire pressure, and check your oil level. That may sound like a hassle, but doing these three things on every other trip to the gas station is a good habit to be in.
When you clean your windshield, you should also check on your headlights and make sure they aren’t dirty. If they are, you can clean those in the same way that you clean the windows.
You may not have thought of your tire pressure as being critical to your car’s safety, but it is. Having tires that either have too much or too little air inside them can make it harder for your car to grip the road, as well as increase your chance of having a blowout. Check your tires while they’re cold — before you’ve driven around on them a lot — to get an accurate reading.
Finally, when you check your oil, you’ll need to top it off if you’re low. It’s a good idea to keep an extra quart of oil in your vehicle so it’s there when you need it. Some car owner’s manuals say to check the oil every time you gas up your car, but doing it every second time as instructed here should be sufficient.
When you learn how to take care of your vehicle, probably the most common advice is to change your oil on time. There’s a reason you hear this so often: even though you don’t have to change your car’s oil as often as you check the tire pressure or clean the windshield, it’s still critical to your vehicle’s operation. And because most people only have to change their oil a few times per year, as opposed to once every week or two, it’s all too easy to forget.
To make sure you figure out how to take care of your vehicle correctly, make a habit of following the maintenance schedule in your car’s owner’s manual. Of course, if you found your car used while hunting for repairable salvage vans for sale, it might not have its owners manual. But generally, doing the maintenance tasks listed in your car’s manual at the times indicated is the best way to keep it running smoothly. With that, you’ll always know how to take care of your vehicle in the best ways.
How to Take Care of Your Boat
More than 87 million American adults participate in boating as a recreational hobby. While taking care of a boat might seem like a foreign language to someone who grew up surrounded by dry land all their life, it’s not that different from how to take care of your vehicle in your garage.
To start with, it’s important to store your boat correctly. You wouldn’t consider leaving an expensive car outside the garage, and likewise, you should consider using boat storage units to protect your watercraft from the elements.
When it comes to boat maintenance, there are five distinct categories to keep in mind:
- The engine
- The hull (bottom) and topsides
- The electrical components
- The plumbing and HVAC systems (on larger boats)
- All moving parts: hinges, tracks, zippers, etc.
- The canvass and any upholstery
The most basic boat care tasks involve keeping it clean and, where necessary, well-lubricated. For example, the typical fiberglass gel coat will oxidize and become chalky if it isn’t washed and waxed regularly. Similarly, dirt that’s allowed to sit on canvass or upholstery encourages mold and mildew to grow, so frequent cleanings are required on that front as well. And if your boat’s bilge is dirty, you might not notice leaking fuel or fluids if they were to become a problem, and it could even lead to clogged bilge pumps.
If you take your boat out onto the ocean, one thing you must remember to do after every outing is to flush the engine. Saltwater can do damage to engine components, so cleaning it out is essential.
On the simpler side, you should also remember to give your boat a good looking-over after every trip out onto the water. If you notice anything wrong, you can decide whether it’s something you can probably fix if you need to take your boat in for repairs.
While taking your boat in for repairs or maintenance may seem daunting, the good news is, you shouldn’t have to spend more than 10% of your boat’s value per year for repairs. Of course, this assumes that you do keep your boat in good repair. Avoiding maintenance when it’s needed will set you up for much more costly repairs. Quite often, serious boat damage is the result of a lack of maintenance, rather than from being damaged out on the water.
When you’re not taking your boat in for in-shop maintenance, you’ll only need a handful of tools to keep it in good shape: some boat scrub, a scrub brush, boat wax, and plenty of rags.
It’s also worth noting that, if you want to do less cleaning, you can use materials and accessories that don’t latch onto dirt and mold as easily. Things like rubber floor mats don’t require the same level of care that fancy fabric upholstery might.
How to Take Care of Your Motorcycle
It’s great to know you have a good car accident attorney on hand in case you ever need one. But it’s ideal if you can avoid auto accidents in the first place, and that’s never more true than it is when you’re a motorcyclist. Even if you’re wearing a helmet, you’re far more vulnerable on a motorcycle than you are in a car. And just like learning how to take care of your vehicle is critical for avoiding accidents, it’s just as important to take proper care of your motorcycle to stay safe.
There are five routine tasks for motorcycle maintenance that you can easily perform yourself: changing the oil, replacing the air filter, checking tire pressure and tread, changing coolant, and maintaining your chain.
As with your car, your motorcycle’s owner’s manual should tell you how often the oil needs changing. Before you change the oil, you should ride the bike around for about five minutes to warm it up. You’ll need to remove the drain plug, oil fill plug, and oil filter to pour out the old oil. This process can get messy, so you should consider covering the engine and exhaust section with something to protect it from the oil. Then you’ll put on a new filter, put back the parts you removed, and fill the tank with the proper amount of oil.
The air filter on your motorcycle keeps dirt and debris out of your engine. Usually changing the filter is easy, but it can take a while if it’s hidden behind the gas tank or other components.
Just like we talked about with your car, you need to maintain proper tire pressure on your motorcycle. As a rule, you should consider doing this at least once every two trips to the gas station. Whenever you check your tire pressure, also look at each tire’s wear indicator — a small rubber knob that sits inside the grooves of the tire — to check the tread. If the knob is even with the part of the rubber that meets the road, it’s time to replace the tires. Of course, that’s a job for a professional mechanic.
You’ll also need to change the coolant every now and then. The coolant is what keeps your engine from either freezing, overheating, or corroding. Replacing it is much like changing the oil. You should consult your owner’s manual to determine how often the coolant should be changed, as well as how much is needed.
Finally, one thing that’s unique about motorcycles is that their chains must be cleaned every now and then. You should clean your chain whenever you notice it’s getting particularly dirty, or as often as indicated in your owner’s manual. A simple bristle brush can get the dirt and grime off, then you’ll want to coat it with a high-quality lubricant to promote smooth movement and prevent rust.
Rust can be a serious problem for motorcycles, so you should be sure to keep it well protected in a secure garage. Keep in mind that unsecured motorcycles can be easy targets for thieves, so don’t hesitate to call residential garage door services if you think your garage could stand to be made more secure.
How to Take Care of Your ATV
For this last section on how to take care of your vehicles, we’re going to be focusing on ATVs, or all-terrain vehicles (also known as ORVs, or off-road vehicles).
The first step to properly caring for any vehicle is familiarizing yourself with your owner’s manual. You may feel like taking care of an ATV can’t be that complicated or significant, but if you want to keep it running for a good long time, it’s a good idea.
When it comes to maintaining your ATV, many of the same rules we’ve already talked about apply: check the oil frequently and change it on time, wash your ATV routinely, and keep a clean air filter. You should also be mindful of where you store your ATV. Outdoor storage may not hurt it over the course of a few nights, but as with every other type of vehicle, it’s really best if you can keep it in a covered area.
Fortunately, many routine maintenance tasks that apply to ATVs are easy. Changing the oil on an ATV specifically is usually easier than changing the oil in a car or truck. It also doesn’t cost you much, since an ATV uses very little oil compared to a full-sized vehicle. Still, just like with cars and motorcycles, you will want to check the oil often to make sure you have enough before using it.
You’ve probably seen people drive around the neighborhood with their ATV covered in dried mud. If you have any interest at all in protecting your vehicle, you should aspire to be different. When you get back from a hunt or a joyride through the woods, remember to hose it down thoroughly before you go inside. If you let mud sit on any vehicle for very long, it will start to rust, and the damage could be permanent. Not only that, but mud and dirt can affect an engine’s performance. It may be an off-road vehicle, but it still needs to be protected from the elements if you want it to operate faithfully for a long time.
Along with watching out for mud and dirt, you should remember to keep a clean air filter in your ATV. As in every other vehicle, air is required for the engine to burn gasoline, but it’s particularly easy for an ATV to get its airways clogged. Considering all the dirt, dust, and mud you might drive through on an open trail, that shouldn’t be surprising. To make sure your ATV’s engine gets a steady flow of clean air, check your air filter often to ensure it’s clean and dry. In particular, you should check on your filter right away after a dusty, dirty ride. Outdoor lighting installation can make it much easier to inspect your machine when you get back from a ride late in the day.
Last but not least, you should remember to check the belt on your ATV and make sure it’s in good condition. Much like the chain on your motorcycle, most modern ATVs use a CV belt transmission system. Unlike motorcycle chains, these belts can become worn out and stretched over time, especially if you frequently ride your machine hard or cover extreme terrain. You should notice when the belt needs attention because the ATV will stop shifting smoothly. This is when you should stop and inspect your belt, and replace it if needed.
From storing your boat in the right way to knowing when to seek auto repair services, hopefully, this article has helped you better understand how to take care of your vehicle.