Friday, March 17, 2023

Annual checklist for drivers

Wazzup Pilipinas!?

New year, new me? Right. Sure. You do your thing. But while you may attempt to reinvent yourself with every change of the calendar, your car won’t be magically brand new come January. In fact, the older a car gets, the more you have to take extra effort and care when driving and maintaining it.

There are things on your car you should check on a regular basis, such as the lights, fuel, tire pressure, and so on. Then there are other aspects you will only need to inspect on a more long-term basis. Nevertheless, these things are still important to maintaining the current quality of your car. Here we’ve compiled a handy annual list you can check back on every year so you can keep your ride in good working order.

1) Registration

If you purchased your ride brand-new last year, great. No need to worry about this. Cars purchased brand-new are registered for three years after you drive away from the dealership. After that, you will need to renew your car’s registration every year. You will need to do it by a specific month, which is determined by the final digit of your car’s license plate. However, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) has issued extensions for this since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, so you can also monitor the news for any updates for your specific schedule.

Oh, and while it’s not something you need to check annually, one registration-related thing you should always keep in mind is if your car falls under number coding on any given day. Your valid registration might be for naught if you get caught driving at the wrong time on the wrong day.

2) Tires

Depending on where and how you drive, your car’s tires will generally last you a couple of years. Still, it doesn’t hurt to do an annual inspection in case you need to change them earlier. The first thing you should check for is tread, a.k.a. the deep grooves that run down the length of your tires. While there are tools you can use to measure their depth, you can also use a simple coin. If you insert a coin and the outer edge doesn’t sink down into the grooves, then it might be time for a tire change.

Next, you want to inspect for any possible tears, rips, or punctures. Have a good look at all your tires to make sure they are still in good stead. Pay attention to the air pressure—if one tire is deflating faster than the others, then it’s a possible sign of some sort of puncture. And don’t forget to inspect your spare tire, too. You will be glad you did if one of the main tires suddenly goes flat.

You will also want to see if you are due for a tire rotation. This is when you change the tire placements around your car to better spread the wear evenly across each individual tire. Check out your car’s manual or ask a mechanic to learn how often you should be doing this.

3) Battery

This is another part of your car that usually lasts for a few years, but a periodic check certainly isn’t a bad thing. First, check to see that it is still holding charge properly. A simple battery tester can answer this question for you. Otherwise, you can check and see if the car struggles a bit to get started whenever you turn the ignition. Next, check that the leads and connectors are all clean, free of any debris, and plugged in properly.

4) Engine oil

Engine oil is to your car what blood is to the human body in that it runs across the entire thing, and lack of flow to any given area or changes in the quality of it can spell trouble. You should make checking the dipstick for quality and quantity a regular habit. But depending on how often you drive your car, you will need to change the oil at certain intervals. For advice on this, it’s best to check your car’s manual or consult a mechanic or service technician. Don’t forget to have the filter changed along with the oil, too.

5) Brakes

Having the engine and tires work well enough to propel you and your car is great, but it’s just as important to ensure that you have adequate stopping power at your disposal. Inspect the brakes anew thoroughly every year, covering the fluid, linings, rotors, pads, and shoes if your car runs on drum brakes. Replacing pads and shoes is a relatively simple and inexpensive process, and you should do so if you notice your car is stopping a bit later than before or if you hear any unusual sounds or squeaks emanating from the brakes.

6) Wiper blades

These should be replaced on a regular basis, particularly if you notice your wipers are not clearing up your windshield as effectively as before. Even if they are not visibly damaged, you should replace your blades at least once or twice a year. You will want to do this before the rainy season hits, too. Replacing these at home takes just a few minutes and usually doesn’t require any elaborate or expensive tools.

7) Cabin air filter

This is usually located somewhere within reach behind your car’s air-conditioning system. This thing ensures that the air passing through your car from the outside is clean once it goes inside the interior. Signs it needs replacing include reduced air circulation in the cabin, the A/C taking longer to heat or cool the car, a musty smell inside the car, and/or a whistling sound emanating from the A/C system. If you detect any of these signs, then it’s time you have the air filter checked and possibly replaced.

And there you have it. Check back on this list with every new year and your car should remain in serviceable order for years to come.

Got any more to add to our list?

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