Car Maintenance = Smart Self Defense

Car Maintenance = Smart Self Defense

Now, some may think I have lost my mind posting things about car maintenance, however, I assure you that I haven’t. (Well, at least not more than usual!) It’s pretty simple, a woman stranded on the side of the road with a broken down car is as much of a target as a woman standing outside of her home with a sign around her neck that says…”I live alone and don’t lock my doors at night.” Car maintenance really is not very complicated but it is one of those things that tends to get pushed far back on the burner. For many single women, the first sign of vehicle drama is when the car stops running or the tire goes flat. Truly, though, there are plenty of things we can all pay attention to that can help to keep that “surprise” moment from happening!

Here is a quick run down as provided by Firestone Tire and Service Centers.

A) Maintain Fluids  There are six main fluids to check and maintain in accordance with your vehicle manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance:

1. Washer fluid. Use a commercial windshield washer solvent.

2. Brake fluid. Most brake fluids absorb moisture, causing fluid deterioration and contamination over time. It’s generally recommended that it be flushed during brake work.

3. Engine oil. Engine oil is generally changed once every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.

4. Radiator/Engine Coolant/Antifreeze. This should be changed according to your owner’s manual.

5. Transmission fluid. Most vehicle manufacturers suggest changing this fluid every 15,000-30,000 miles.

6. Power steering fluid. Low fluid can mean the loss of power steering. Most manufacturers don’t have a scheduled maintenance for this fluid.

B) Check Your Tires

Spend a few minutes each month checking your tires:

1. Inflate. Check your owner’s manual or inside the driver-side doorjamb for inflation guidelines specific to your car. Tires can lose one psi (pound per square inch) per month under normal conditions. Use a tire gauge for an accurate reading.

2. Rotate. Feel the tread of your tires. If you feel high and low areas or very smooth areas, you may have irregular tread wear. Proper tire rotation, alignment and balancing will help your tires last longer and provide a smoother, safer ride. For maximum mileage, rotate tires every 5,000 miles.
3. Evaluate. Be on the lookout for damage to your tires. If your tire looks worn or damaged, take it to a service center and have it checked out immediately.
C: Use Your Senses  Trust yourself and what you see, smell and hear.
1. Look. Watch for leaks under the car, or steam or smoke coming from the engine. Pay attention to dashboard warning lights.
2. Smell. Many fluids have their own unique odor. If you smell something unusual, you may have a leak.
3. Listen. Describe noises to your service technician as accurately as possible. Observe as many things as you can: when it’s happening, how fast you’re going, whether you’re applying the brakes or gas, turning left or right, is the car hot or cold, etc.

D: Stay Educated
Keep a copy of your vehicle manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance program handy. Firestone Tire & Service Centers offer these maintenance schedules for free and host free Car Care Clinics at locations around the country. Visit to find a clinic in your area or to schedule a service appointment.

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