We rely on our cars to get us to work and school and to sports practices and weekend adventures. We trust our cars with our lives, so keeping up with routine car maintenance is important to keep them running safely.
Checking your oil and tires are two of the easiest things you can do to make sure your car stays road ready. They usually need to be checked at approximately the same time, so doing both at once is easy to remember.
Oil keeps your engine running smoothly. If you don’t change your oil it gets dirtier and dirtier. This makes your engine work harder, and could eventually lead to engine problems that can easily cost several thousand dollars in repairs.
Checking your oil is easy. Locate the dipstick under the hood of your car. It is often labeled with an oil icon. Check your owner’s manual if you are not sure how to find it. Pull the dipstick out and wipe the current oil off. Then replace the stick and pull it out again.
If the oil is black or thick (think jelly consistency), then you REALLY need an oil change. Also check the level to make sure it is at the full line.
How often should you change your oil?
The old rule was 3,000 miles or 3 months, but oil and car engineering has come a long way. Most owners’ manuals will give a mileage range of when you should change your oil. This range depends on if you drive in mild or severe conditions. Lots of stopping (like during urban rush hours) and extreme temperatures count as severe conditions. Longer drives without constant stopping count under mild driving conditions. If your car is less than 10 years old, your range will most likely be between 5,000 and 10,000 miles.
Look at your hand. That is about the size of the contact patch of one of your tires. Tires are the only connection between your car and the road. You should regularly inspect your tires every month or two. When you inspect your tires you should check the following things:
Check your owner’s manual for the recommended pressure of the tires, and check them using a pressure gauge. Tires that are over or under inflated will not make proper contact with the road. This can affect handling and responsiveness of the vehicle.
Your tire tread is what provides traction to your car. Worn treads won’t perform as well if you need to stop suddenly or in poor weather conditions. To check your tire tread level, all you need is a penny.
Put the penny between your tire tread with Lincoln’s head down. If your treads come at least to Lincoln’s head, your tires have enough remaining tread to perform safely. If the tread falls below Lincoln’s head, you should replace the tire.
When you check tread, keep track if some treads are more worn than others. Most tires wear unevenly due to driving styles and driving conditions. Also front tires tend to wear differently than back tires.
Tires should be rotated every 5,000-10,000 miles depending on the driving style and conditions. Some tire manufactures will include tire rotation as part of their warranty.
To rotate tires, elevate your vehicle (the car jack used to change a tire works). Once your car has been elevated, remove the front tire and back tire. Then put the back tire on the front, and the front on the back. Lower your car and repeat on the other side.
It’s important to check on the condition of your spare tire. The last thing you want is to need a spare and have it be flat too!
Car Repair & Maintenance From Reputable Shop
Whether you commute from one side of San Antonio to the other, all the way to Austin, or even further, we make sure your car is in good working order. As a local San Antonio auto body shop, we care about the cars that drive on our roads because we drive here too!