Buying a new car is always an exciting experience, and there's nothing like the honeymoon phase that follows. Unfortunately, all vehicles eventually become routine, day-to-day appliances, and that new car shine will inevitably wear off. As your vehicle ages, there are plenty of milestones, but one pivotal moment is when your factory warranty finally runs out.
Realizing you're out of your warranty period can feel a bit like floating down a river without a paddle. Fortunately, enjoying a car once its warranty ends doesn't need to be a stressful experience. Taking these three preventative maintenance steps as your vehicle's warranty comes to an end can help keep it dependable for many more years.
1. Replace Secondary Fluids
Your warranty likely required you to keep up with regular maintenance items such as oil changes. Every car contains more than just motor oil, however. If you haven't addressed other fluids, such as coolant or brake fluid, then now is the perfect time to start. Fluids to consider replacing include:
- Engine coolant
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Automatic transmission fluid
- Differential or transfer case fluid for AWD, RWD, and 4WD vehicles
Check your owner's manual for routine replacement intervals for these fluids. If you can't find them, it may be worth talking to a shop to determine when and if you should perform this maintenance on your vehicle.
2. Check for Fluid Leaks
Fluid leaks can strike on almost any vehicle, including relatively "young" or low-mileage ones. Gaskets and hoses tend to degrade over time, resulting in leaks that may be relatively small and hard to notice. A good preventative maintenance step is to check your car for any evidence of leaks, including dried fluids on engine covers, hoses, or elsewhere in the engine bay.
If you don't have access to jacks or a lift, you may want a local mechanic to perform this work for you. A shop can get your car up into the air, allowing them to locate leaks more quickly. Checking for and repairing these leaks before they become severe enough to cause problems can help save a substantial amount of money in the future.
3. Inspect and Replace Belts
Your car may include one or two accessory belts, depending on whether it uses a separate belt for the air conditioning system. These belts will wear out and fail over time, although they may outlast your warranty. However, checking the condition of these belts as your warranty runs out is an excellent preventative maintenance step. If you notice cracks or wear, you should replace them when you can.
While you can't inspect your timing belt, you should check your owner's manual for its recommended replacement interval. A failed timing belt can cause significant engine damage, so adding this item to any preventative maintenance list is crucial. If your service interval is approaching soon, you shouldn't wait to schedule a replacement.
Contact an auto shop for more information about preventative maintenance.