Mastering the Road: A Guide to Optimal Car Maintenance and Performance


Depending on what car you have, whether it’s a brand new car or a second hand car. There are steps to taking care of it. Since a car is made up of several components to make it work, it’s best that you keep those component at its optimal level. This keeps your car in mint condition. Even if you have a scratch on the car, that’s not as big of a problem as if there’s a scratch inside your engine. So, to keep things well and running, you’re going to have to take care of some of the key components under the hood.

So, what are the things you should look and check up on in your car? Plus, when should you get it checked and replaced? Well, here’s a quick list of the most important ones that you should get checked and when you’ve got to check and replace them. Please note that you should never open up the hood and check anything under there if the car is hot or if it’s running. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Wheel alignment

What is it? Wheel alignment is just one component of the wheels. You’ve also got to balance by rotating as well as replace them. Wheel alignment is when your wheels get checked and the angles are adjusted relative to one another as well as the car body. In order to perform wheel alignment, your vehicle must be placed on an alignment rack. So, if you don’t have this at home, you’re going to have to go to a specialist or professional for this. There are special sensors mounted on each wheel and a computer controlled device will measure the actual angles of the wheels on your car.

Once the measurements are done, that’s where the technician will adjust the wheel angles to specific specifications. Most of the time though before doing the actual alignment, the technicians will test drive the car, adjust the tire pressure and other components like suspension, steering (ball joint, tie rod, etc.) If there are any parts found that do not function well, they’ll ask you to have them replaced before wheel alignment.

When to check? This should be checked whenever your steering wheel goes off center. Especially so when you’re driving in a straight road and it veers off to the side. The vehicle feels unstable and wanders from side to side. The tires screech when you’re turning, or the tires are worn out unevenly. Sometimes, if you’ve gotten your suspension replaced, or the ball joint replaced, you’ll really need to get your wheel aligned.

When to replace? In totality, you’ll need to either replace your parts depending on how long you’ve been using the car. It’s different for every car, so it’s best to check with the manufacturer’s owner’s manual. Or, to make it easier, go to a trusted professional.


You vehicle works with a lot of fluids to keep it running smoothly. So, there are five important fluids that you should watch out for. Some of these fluids you’ll have to flush and replace while some you’ll just have to make sure that it’s in a specific level.

Engine oil

What is it? Engine oil is the most often thing you hear when watching a movie when a car is being fixed. Maybe this is one of the first things you learned about your car. It’s easy to check whether your car has got enough oil. Basically, you just pop up the hood and find the oil dipstick. Making sure you have a rug, pull the dipstick out and wipe it. Repeat the process of putting the dipstick back and out again. A good will have indicators on it. See the color of the oil on the stick below. If you have this, it means the oil is clean and it’s at the correct level. You won’t be needing to add more.

If your car burns through a lot of oil though, you may need to go to a mechanic to get it checked out.

When to check? It’s recommended to check your oil every time you fill up. However, if you have a modern car, at least once a month will be good as most modern cars have safeguards.

When to replace? Depending on your car’s make and model, you may have to check your owner’s manual. Before, everyone went with the rule of the thumb as 3,000 miles or every six months. However, it doesn’t apply anymore as it really depends on the type of car and the manufacturer’s recommendations. It could be every 10,000 miles or less.

Transmission fluid

What is it? The transmission fluid is really important. It’ll keep the gears in your car moving smoothly. Similar to your engine oil checkup, you’ll be checking the transmission fluid the same way. However, unlike the engine oil, the transmission fluid is part of a close system. Therefore, it should never be low. Plus, instead of the volume, you’re going to have to make sure that the quality of the fluid should be red and not have a burnt smell. If the fluid is brown and smells burnt, it’s time to take it in for a flush.

When to check? This fluid should be checked every month. If not, you may have a problem and not even know it. So, better to keep it in check.

When to replace? As earlier mentioned, it depends on the car make and model. However, generally, this should be flushed and replaced around 50,000 – 60,000 miles.


What is it? Coolant is also known as antifreeze. This fluid helps keep your car running cool and prevents it from overheating. So, if you’re running low on coolant, then you’re going to get stuck somewhere as your car’s overheated. To see the coolant, you’ll have to pop the hood and remove the cap from the radiator when the car is cool. Once the cap has been removed, look at the line where the coolant should be up to.

While adding coolant, make sure to use the same coolant. If there are any leaks, go to the nearest car service shop.

When to check? You should check it at least twice a year. Typically, it’s done before summer as overheating is more prominent during this time of year. Another check is before winter. This is typically done because the car definitely needs to have a sufficient amount of coolant/antifreeze during this time of the year.

When to replace? The coolant should be flushed and replaced every 2-3 years. Or, immediately if the color has turned brown.

Brake fluid

What is it? The brake fluid keeps your brakes working properly. If your brakes feel a little off, then check your brake fluid. It should fix the problem. Plus, if you pop the hood, you can usually check the level of the fluid as it has a translucent container.

The fluid should be a golden color. If it’s brown, it’s time to replace it.

When to check? When you’re changing your engine oil, it should also be a good time to check the brake fluid.

When to replace? Typically, it should be flushed and replaced every 2 years.

Power steering fluid

What is it? As its name suggests, it’ll keep your steering in check. When your power steering fluid is low, you’ll either hear or feel as creaking in the steering wheel. Same with the other fluids, you’ll just have to pop the hood and find the reservoir or the container.

When to check? This should be checked monthly.

When to replace? Sometimes, it may be required to change it every 50,000 miles. But, if it’s always kept at the optimal level, then you may never have to replace it.

Timing belt

What is it? A timing belt is also known as a timing chain or cam belt. It resides in the internal part of the hood, and you may need a mechanic to change this. This belt is part of an internal combustion engine that synchronizes the rotation of both the crankshaft as well as the camshaft(s). This means that the engine’s valves open and close at the correct time while each cylinder of the engine has intake and exhaust strokes.

When to check? This again various depending on the car’s make or model. But, you should get your mechanic to inspect this when you get your car checked.

When to replace? Generally, it should be replaced every 60,000 miles or so. If this isn’t replaced before finally breaking, you’ll have to shell out a lot more for sure.

There are definitely more components to check than those presented here. But, these are all very important as if left alone, it could be a very costly repair. Either that, or your car will no longer be used due to the amount of things that need repair. So, watch out and make sure to get these things checked if you don’t know how yourself.


On Key
Related Posts