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An automobile is many people's second most expensive possession. Whether that vehicle is worth Rs500,000 or Rs100,000, there rests a particular set of fundamental maintenance requirements. Besides gasoline and the occasional pine tree air freshener, a car requires the attention of either a qualified mechanic or a competent owner. Divided into two categories -- seasonal and regular -- both types of maintenance will not only prolong your vehicle's life, but enhance its driving performance and resale value.

The following maintenance calendar offers the ideal times of the year to devote to the upkeep of your vehicle.

Regular monthly maintenance
Although many modern vehicles are equipped with some form of electronic monitoring, it is still recommended to check each tire's pressure every day. Each month, check the tires during the morning hours and adjust the tire pressure, if required, to match your vehicle's suggested air pressure. Tire-pressure checks are very important in winter and summer weather changes because a 10°F temperature change can result in 1 PSI of lost pressure. In the winter months, a tire loses pressure compared to the warmer days of other seasons. Don't forget to check the spare tire too.

Also, while reading the tire pressure, take some time to inspect your tire tread for possible wear.

Apart from the tires, other monthly checks should include your vehicle's headlights, taillights and signal lights. Maintain the windshield washer fluid reservoir, and while under the hood, check the engine's oil level.

As a final monthly exercise, one of the best and most fulfilling ways to take care of your car is to wash it at least once a month.
month-by-month requirements

January

Seasonal maintenance

In cold winter temperatures, you need to make sure your car has a fully functional heating system. Your rear defroster grid can be tested by simply watching it work on a cold winter day.

Finally, as a step to prevent fuel-line freezing, keep your fuel tank at least half full during the winter.


February

Seasonal maintenance

Retest the heating and defroster systems.

How to prepare your car for the spring…

March

Seasonal maintenance

With the winter season wrapping up its final weeks, the interior of your vehicle has likely been a noticeable casualty of neglect. Vacuum the seats and floors to remove the surface dirt, then use an upholstery cleaner to work out the more stubborn stains. Also lubricate the door hinges, which likely sound creaky after enduring wetness and ice.

On top of monthly maintenance, most auto manufacturers recommend that engine oil changes should occur every three months or every 5000 Kms. Even if your vehicle has only reached a fraction of the 5000 kms distance in three months, change out older motor oil since it still offers only diminished protection.

A new oil filter is a must after every oil change since grime and dirt in the old filter will contaminate the new oil. Oil changes are also a good occasion to check other fluid levels related to the operation of the car, such as the fluid for the automatic transmission and power steering.

 

April

Although the mechanical aspects of a vehicle get the most attention on your maintenance schedule, your car's paint finish also deserves regular attention. At least twice a year, wax your vehicle with a soft terry cloth after a thorough wash. April and September are suggestible months to wax. The end result: Waxing prolongs the shine of a vehicle's paint, and provides protection against harsh environmental factors.

May

When April showers bring May flowers, the flowers bring unsavory conditions to allergy sufferers. With a growing number of vehicles’ cabin ventilation systems equipped with pollen filters, those summer drives are going to be much more pleasurable. It is suggested that you replace the filter every year.

June

The warmer months of the year are the halfway mark in your yearly car-care schedule. For most vehicles equipped with all-season tires, rotation every six months is required in order to balance tread wear along all four wheels. Also, banking on the traditional summer heat waves, check the coolant level when the engine is cold, keeping an eye out for any leaks.

As typical with every three-month service period, change the motor oil and filter. Some car owners’ manuals might suggest a thicker oil for summer driving than the oil grade used in colder months.

On top of carrying out all maintenance items related to the three-month service period, the half-year checkup for your vehicle includes additional areas of attention. Start with inspecting the rubber hoses for cracks by squeezing the hose with your hand. Although typically good for up to 100,000 Kms on some vehicles, drive belts should also be inspected to assess wear and proper tension amongst the pulleys.

Inspect the battery connection for dirt and corrosion. These elements are parasites to the battery and will affect both the performance of the electrical system, as well as the battery's lifespan. If it’s necessary to clean the battery, wear gloves and carefully disconnect the terminals; use baking soda and water to clean the battery.

As a finale to the six-month maintenance schedule, lubricate chassis parts like the steering and suspension components.

July

Test the air-conditioning system.


August

No maintenance required.


September

While still taking advantage of the warm weather, clean and wax your vehicle's finish in preparation for the less than hospitable driving conditions awaiting your ride in the months ahead.

In addition to regular monthly maintenance, it's oil-change time again. Also, conduct fluid checks of the automatic transmission and power-steering reservoirs.

October

Look for winter windshield washer fluid. Often colored blue, winter fluid can operate effortlessly in cooler temperatures and has de-icing properties.

November

Depending on the climate, you may be opting to install winter tires rather than all-season ones in the upcoming months. Winter tires are superior in traction over snow-covered roads; however, relatively new all-season tires would suffice during wintertime in most major cities.

December

Check and change wiper blades.

In addition to monthly maintenance, change the oil filter and motor oil, choosing the recommended grade for the climate conditions in your area. Repeat the six-month maintenance schedule, including inspecting the rubber hose and drive belt, rotating all-season tread tires and checking the battery. Along with the tire rotation, a wheel alignment should be conducted on an annual basis.

At 12 months, the engine's air filter, fuel filter and windshield wipers will need replacing (all replacement parts are inexpensive). Finally, an underside inspection of components, such as steering, suspension and exhaust will conclude the regular maintenance requirement.
Many drivers travel beyond 20,000 Kms a year, so your maintenance calendar would need to cater to your yearly commuting. Nevertheless, keep this suggested maintenance schedule as a guide.

If you're planning a long-distance road trip, plan on carrying out all regular monthly checks right before you hit the road. These maintenance procedures may seem costly in the course of a year, but abiding by your car's maintenance calendar will prevent the car trouble that makes you late for your hot date or important job interview.