Weathering the road

Routine vehicle maintenance is key for drivers, especially in winter

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Owning a car is a big responsibility. Drivers who plan to keep their vehicles for the long haul must emphasize maintenance if they want to keep adding miles to their odometers. In fact, the automotive information site CarAdvice says that routine maintenance may be the most important thing drivers can do for their vehicles.

Routine maintenance touches on a range of vehicle needs – everything from changing the oil and checking fluid levels to replacing old wiper blades and ensuring tires are properly inflation, particularly during the winter months.

“All of those things are important to do,” said Bob MacDonald of Rick’s Auto Body, located at 62 Post Road in Warwick.

A vehicle needs consistent care if it is to run efficiently. Maintenance also reduces the risk of roadside breakdowns and costly repairs.

Kevin McCrudden of McCrudden’s Radiator & Repair at 835 West Shore Road in Warwick agreed. While antifreeze needs to be changed less frequently in newer vehicles, he said keeping an eye on an engine’s vital fluids – transmission, power steering – is essential for drivers.

“It’s a chemical. It’s going to break down,” he said.

McDonald said while his auto body shop provides work outside of the normal maintenance routine, he sees and uptick in collision-related repairs during the winter, often stemming from accidents in which drivers have failed to keep up their tires or experienced visibility issues due to worn wipers.

“That’s something that we do see, particularly because of bald tires,” he said.

Here’s a look at some of the benefits of staying on top of maintenance.

Saves money: Even though maintenance costs money, sticking to a consistent maintenance schedule can save big bucks in the long run. For example, the cost of rotating and aligning tires is considerably less than repairing a car after a major blowout and paying for a tow and tire replacement.

Improves performance and efficiency: Routine maintenance includes oil changes, filter changes and fluid top-offs. Such tasks keep engines running smoothly. Ignoring this routine maintenance can put engines in jeopardy of breaking down and adversely affect vehicle performance, diminishing fuel economy and leading to a sluggish ride.

Identifies safety issues: Routine inspections and work performed by reputable service stations help drivers stay abreast of recalls or issues that can affect the safety of the vehicle.

Maintains a maintenance record: When the time comes to sell the vehicle, having a log of routine maintenance indicates to potential buyers that the vehicle was well cared for.

Keeps compliance: Vehicles covered under manufacturer’s warranties typically need to be maintained in adherence to factory-recommended maintenance schedules. This ensures that the vehicle is in compliance and will be covered in the event of a warranty claim.

Routine vehicle maintenance is important for a variety of reasons. Drivers can work with a trusted and reliable mechanic to develop a schedule that keeps their cars and trucks on the road.

(Courtesy of Metro Creative Connection, with Beacon Communications staff)

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