2020 RAM for sale

What Maintenance Do You Need to Perform on a Used Car?

The non-mechanically inclined and the certified auto mechanic in Kansas and Missouri alike face the same problem of vehicle maintenance. It is a fact of life and it is a very necessary evil. Vehicle maintenance, like cleaning one's house, cannot be avoided. If it is delayed, it usually comes at a great expense and detriment to safety.

To make this obligation a bit less annoying, it helps to prioritize what needs to be done. It is also helpful to understand the difficulty levels associated with the tasks so that one doesn't take on something that is best left to the experts. To this end, consider all of the following maintenance requirements in 2020.

What Should I Be Looking For?

Assuming one has some level of visual acuity and tactile senses, most everyone can do this one. As with aircraft pilots, a "pre-flight inspection" is applicable. Pilots go around their planes and look for causes for concern. The same things they are looking for in their airplane apply to cars and trucks as well. Things to look for around the vehicle and under the hood include: 

  • Low or flat tires
  • Puddles on the ground indicating fuel, oil, transmission, fluid, brake fluid or other leaks
  • Belts that are frayed, loose, or even missing
  • Damage to the exterior of the vehicle
  • Damaged or badly worn windshield wipers
  • Dirty or corroded battery connections and cables
  • Anything amiss that can cause a failure or safety issue

Fluid and Pressure Levels

Several fluids need to be checked for safety and reliable vehicle operation. Starting with everyone's favorite is oil. Oil is very important unless one wants to buy a new engine every year. It is a very good idea to maintain the proper oil level and oil quality. Vehicles usually have a dipstick or an electronic gauge to check the oil level.

One also needs to check the oil's quality periodically. That is, it should look sort of clear and "honey-like." If it is murky or muddy looking, it's probably time for an oil change.

The same applies to the brake, transmission, wiper fluid, coolant, and other vehicle-specific fluid levels. Usually, there is a dipstick involved or a visual level indication such as a "line" on a transparent fluid reservoir. One needs to check their owner's manual to get the specific details.

Windshield Wiper Blades

A simple but important maintenance item is to change one's wiper blades when they get "streaky" or make a mess of the windshield during wet conditions. This is usually pretty obvious and changing them is usually very simple. Many used car dealerships in Missouri and Kansas will help with this at no charge.

Engine Air Filter Replacement

Replacing engine air filters is important as well. Changing engine air filters can be a little problematic depending on the vehicle. Generally, they are in housing with latches to allow for access. Some have thumbscrews or other fasteners. In the end, one will usually find a paper element or foam filter that serves to keep the air going to vital fuel systems clean. One can hold the filter up to the sun or bright light and look to see if it is dirty. If light permeates it well, it's probably fine. If not, a new one is generally required. The owner's manual will give you a mileage estimate for how frequently it should be replaced but this simple check works a little better, particularly if one is driving in dusty conditions.

Changing the Oil

One of the more frequent and important maintenance tasks is the oil change. Most generally keep track of the miles for when this is necessary. Roughly, oil changes are needed after around 3,000 miles for conventional oil and somewhat higher for those using synthetic oils. It really depends on the operating environment and how stressful the conditions are on the vehicle.

For example, high strain and high-temperature conditions such as towing a boat in the summer may require more frequent oil changes. As mentioned above, visually inspecting the oil for dirty looking oil or oil that has that slightly burnt dark color are good indicators.

Changing the oil, which also includes changing the oil filter, is a dirty job, so one may choose to have this done at a used car dealership on the Miracle Mile in Kansas City like Landmark CDJR. 

Tire Rotation and Balancing

Another job that is probably best to be handled by others is the rotation and balancing of the vehicle's tires. Unless one has the equipment to do this (e.g., floor jack and time balancing equipment), it is generally best to pay to have it done. Tires need to be rotated to other wheels to make sure they wear evenly. Tire balancing is important to keep damaging vibration and wear at a minimum.

Changing Spark Plugs

Worn or dirty spark plugs reduce an engine's efficiency. With reduced efficiency comes reduced power and gas mileage. Generally, this isn't a very frequent maintenance item but it is one that requires some consideration. This may very well be an item for a professional mechanic if the plugs are difficult to get to or are located in fragile aluminum heads making them prone to cross-threading. If they are easy to get to, many do-it-yourselfers take this on. Others consider this a mechanic's job. 

The Rest…

Many other vehicle maintenance items are grey areas as to who does the job. Depending on one's ability and available tools, one may or may not require professional assistance. This list is long and includes things like replacing fuel injectors, transmission fluid replacement, PVC valve replacement, and more. Whether this is done by the owner or a professional is the driver's choice.

At regular intervals, it is important for one to have one's vehicle looked at by a professional mechanic to see what it may need. Vehicles are very complex these days and special equipment is needed (e.g., specialized computers) to diagnose certain problems.

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  • Friday 9:00am-6:00pm
  • Saturday 9:00am-6:00pm
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