Vehicle Maintenance Tips
1. 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. Typically, your repair shop 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.
2. 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.
3. Windshield Washer Fluid
WHY: Rain, insects, grime and other debris on your windshield will compromise your vision if your windshield wipers cannot remove them. A supply of the proper washer fluid will help your wipers remove these contaminants effectively.
WHEN: Check your washer fluid reservoir monthly and more often when you use the washers frequently. Top it up with a washer solution formulated to aid in the removal of insects and other debris, and during winter, be sure to use a solution with antifreeze protection. Finally, test the washer spray nozzles for proper operation and aim.
BOTTOM LINE: Whether your windshield becomes covered with bugs in the summer or ice and salt in the winter, it’s critical to keep it clear for your safety.
4. Engine Oil
WHY: Without an adequate supply of clean oil, your engine will wear more rapidly and could even seize and be destroyed. Oil doesn’t freeze like water, but its viscosity, or thickness, does increase as the mercury drops. Lighter grade oils reduce the load on your car’s battery and starter, allowing more rapid cranking and starting. Lighter oils also reach critical engine lubrication areas much quicker than heavier oils, greatly reducing wear.
WHEN: Change your engine’s oil and oil filter at the specified intervals, and follow the more frequent “severe service” recommendations if your driving habits meet any of the conditions described in your owner’s manual. Always use the weight of oil recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer for the existing temperature conditions. Watch for oil leaks beneath your vehicle and have any leaks corrected.
BOTTOM LINE: Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Not maintaining the proper levels, using the wrong oil or not changing it frequently enough can destroy your engine. Plus, oil that leaks on to a heated surface can cause a vehicle fire.
5. Windshield Wiper Blades
WHY: Windshield wipers are easy to overlook until you find yourself in a pounding rainstorm. If your wiper blades are worn, cracked or rigid with age, the wipers will not adequately remove rain, grime and other debris that can obscure your vision.
WHEN: Check your car’s wiper blades at each oil change or whenever they fail to wipe the glass clean in a single swipe. The life of a rubber insert is typically six to 12 months depending on its exposure to heat, dirt, sunlight, acid rain and ozone. Streaking and chattering are common clues that the rubber is breaking down and replacement is needed.
BOTTOM LINE: Worn out windshield wipers can not only compromise your safety when you need them, they can even damage your windshield.
6. Antifreeze/Coolant Protection
WHY:The primary task of an engine coolant is to transfer heat from the engine to the radiator where it is removed by the passing airflow. Modern engine coolants also prevent the cooling system from freezing or boiling, protect the engine and cooling system from rust and corrosion and lubricate the water pump seals and other cooling system components.
WHEN: Check the coolant level at every oil change. With a cold engine, the radiator should be completely full and the coolant level in the remote reservoir should be at or above the “cold” level marking. Have the system flushed and refilled with fresh coolant at the interval specified in your vehicle owner’s manual. This can vary widely, from every two years to more than 100,000 miles, depending on the coolant type used. Simple and inexpensive testers are available to check the coolant’s level of antifreeze protection. Always top up the system with a 50/50 mixture of coolant and water to avoid altering the antifreeze level. Be aware that some coolants come pre-mixed with water and others do not. Some manufacturers require the use of specific coolant types. Check your owners’ manual for the coolant your vehicle needs.
BOTTOM LINE: Maintain the antifreeze/coolant to avoid overheating in the summer or freezing in the winter — both of which can result in costly damage to your car.
7. Drive Belt Tensioner
WHY:One or more rubber drive belts transfer the rotation of the engine’s crankshaft to various accessories that help your vehicle function properly. Belts that are too loose will allow slippage and reduce efficiency. Belts that are too tight can damage bearings and cause premature component failure.
WHEN: Drive belt condition and tension should be checked at every oil change. Many cars today have automatic belt tensioners that require no maintenance. On others, technicians must use a belt tension gauge to check and adjust the tension manually. To prevent being stranded by a broken accessory drive belt, have your car’s belts replaced every four years or 60,000 miles.
BOTTOM LINE: If a belt comes loose or breaks, it can cause major damage to your engine.
8. Brake Fluid
WHY: The fluid in your car’s brake hydraulic system transfers your foot pressure at the brake pedal into stopping power at the wheels. An adequate supply of clean brake fluid is absolutely essential for safe vehicle operation. Old, moisture-contaminated brake fluid, or a low fluid level that allows air to enter the system, can lead to brake fade or a complete loss of braking power.
WHEN: Inspect the brake fluid level at every oil change. If the level has fallen below the “low” mark on the fluid reservoir, it usually indicates major brake wear or a leak somewhere in the system; have the brakes inspected as soon as possible. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that the brake fluid be replaced periodically to flush moisture and contaminants from the system. Every two years is a common interval; check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific recommendations.
BOTTOM LINE: Old brake fluid or fluid at low levels can result in your brakes fading or completely failing. Plus, a leak in the brake line can cause a vehicle fire if the fluid drips onto a heated surface such as a catalytic converter.
We hope some of these Service Maintenance Tips were helpful to you.
Fuel-Saving Benefits Of Maintenance
As fuel costs fluctuate and concerns about the environment increase, it’s helpful to be familiar with all the ways proper maintenance can help you save fuel.
Using The Right Oil
You can improve your gas mileage by up to two percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil.* Your recommended grade can be found in your Owner Guide, but it can vary depending on your driving conditions. Our experts have a full line of Motorcraft® oil and filter products on hand and will use the correct grade for your vehicle every time you come in for an oil change.
Keeping Your Tires Properly Inflated
You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every one PSI drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer*. The operating vehicle tire inflation pressure that Ford Motor Company certifies and recommends for normal use is found on a Certification Decal or Tire Decal, usually located on the driver’s door or door pillar, or the glove box. (Tire pressure information does NOT appear in the Owner Guide, as the government requires it to be permanently affixed to the vehicle.) Make sure not to exceed that number, though, because overinflated tires can be just as bad.
Keeping Your Engine Tuned
Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve gas mileage by an average of 4 percent*. But here’s the real bonus – if our experts find a malfunctioning oxygen sensor, replacing it can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent*.
Other Regular Maintenance
Wheel alignments, shock and strut inspections, and replacing worn fuel filters or spark plugs can all help optimize your fuel economy too. Together, all these vehicle maintenance operations can improve your mileage by up to 25 percent*.
Drive To Maximize Your Fuel Economy
Making lots of short trips means you’re driving with your engine cold. And that uses more fuel than making one long trip with an engine that’s warmed up. Try combining your short trips around town as much as possible to optimize your fuel economy.
Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than just gas money.
Observe The Speed Limit
While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 100 kph (approximately 62 mph).
Remove Excess Weight
Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds or 45.5 kilograms in your vehicle could reduce your miles per gallon (mpg) or kilometers per liter by up to 2 percent. The reduction is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the vehicles weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
Avoid Excessive Idling
Idling reduces average fuel economy. Cars with larger engines typically waste more gas at idle than do cars with smaller engines. If you know you’ll be stopped for a while, it’s actually better to turn off your engine instead of idling.
Use Cruise Control
Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
Use Overdrive Gears
When you use overdrive gearing, your cars engine speed goes down. This saves gas and reduces engine wear.
*Tips from the Ford.com website