10 Car Care “Musts” You Don't Want to Skip

1. Tire Pressure
WHY: Over-inflated tires ride roughly and suffer premature wear at the center of their tread. Under-inflated tires decrease fuel economy, cause imprecise handling, suffer premature wear at the edges of their tread, and can overheat and fail at highway speeds. Tires typically lose about one pound of pressure per month through normal seepage, and as seasons change, tires lose or gain another pound of inflation pressure with every 10 degree change in outside temperature.

WHEN: Check the tire pressures (including the spare) at least once a month when the tires are cold. Always follow the inflation pressure recommendations in your owner's manual, or those on the tire information label that is located in the glove box or on the driver's door jamb. Do not use the inflation pressure molded into the tire sidewall; this is the pressure needed to achieve the tire's rated load capacity, and it may or may not be the correct pressure for your particular car.

BOTTOM LINE: The correct tire pressure will make tires last longer and delay the need for you to buy new ones. Plus, having the proper tire pressure will help your vehicle's fuel economy.

2. Engine Air Filter
WHY: Your vehicle's air filter prevents dust and dirt from entering the engine. A dirty or clogged air filter restricts airflow and will reduce engine performance and fuel economy while increasing exhaust emission levels.

WHEN: Check the air filter every six months or 7,500 miles. Your car care center will inspect the filter at each oil change. You can check it by holding it up to a 60-watt light bulb. If you can see light through much of the filter, it is still clean enough to work effectively. However, if the light is blocked by most of the filter, replace it.

BOTTOM LINE: Dirty air filters not only affect your fuel economy, but other vehicle systems such as the emissions control system and spark plugs. It might result with problems keeping your car running.

3. Battery Cables/Clamps/Terminals
WHY: Power from the battery flows to the rest of your vehicle's electrical system through the cables, clamps and terminals. If these components and connections become corroded or loose, your car won't have the power needed to start the engine and operate other systems.

WHEN: The battery cables, clamps and connections should be inspected at every oil change. If there are signs of corrosion, or you notice other indications of electrical problems such as slow engine cranking or dimming headlights at idle, have your repair shop test the charging and starting system, and clean and tighten the battery connections as necessary.

BOTTOM LINE: No one enjoys walking into a parking lot to discover their car suddenly won't start. Keeping the battery maintained will greatly reduce the risk of it going dead and help extend its life.

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