DIY Network

Your Car's Durability

This DIY Basic will provide tips on your car's durability.

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Watch an Overview Video

Gather Your Materials and Tools

Materials and Tools:

brake fluid
oil filter
air filter
fuel filter
cabin air filter
extended life antifreeze/coolant
de-ionized or distilled water
motor oil
pH-balanced cleanser
car wax
scrub brush
garden hose
interior protectant
microfiber cloth

Flush the Brakes and Change the Oil Filter

With simple, regular maintenance, you can increase the durability of your car and avoid expense repairs.

Flush brake system as recommended by car manufacturer.

Tip: Brake fluids oxidize and collect moisture; corrosion in cylinders can cause poor braking performance and uneven braking; high water contamination in brake fluids can boil, causing loss of braking.

Change oil filter with every oil change. Filter removes dirt and particulates from oil.

Inferior motor oil can shorten the life of any engine. Use only motor oil which meets performance standards for your vehicle recommended in your owner's manual, and follow the severe service schedule for oil change recommended in your owner's manual.

Change the Air Filter and the Fuel Filter

To maintain complete airflow, air filter should be changed per owner's manual recommendations.

Tip: Airflow loss can reduce power, lower fuel efficiency and cause poor idling.

Fuel filters should be replaced according to time and mileage. Follow recommendations in owner's manual.

Tip: Fuel filter keeps dirt from filling station lines from getting into engine.

Service carbon cabin air filter every third oil change, depending on road and air conditions to keep air circulating properly and allergens out, which keeps heat and AC at maximum efficiency.

Maintain the Cooling System

To prevent engine over-heating and lengthen engine life, always maintain cooling system as recommended in owner's manual.

Follow owner's manual recommendations for coolants; top low radiator with de-ionized or distilled water in overflow reservoir; this keeps excess minerals out of cooling system. NEVER open HOT radiator; always fill overflow reservoir tank.

Tip: Increase in AFC use may indicate coolant leak or AFC entering engine; this could result in oil lubrication failure.

Clean and Grease the Bearings

Many sealed bearings and joints do not have grease points, but a few do.

Hinges and latches need occasional spray silicone lubricants, and some wheel bearings must be greased or repacked regularly.

Always use high-temperature grease for disc brakes pins to free up movement; this should be applied only during a brake overhaul; always clean grease from all wear surfaces with solvent brake parts cleaners.

Tip: Make sure bearings are clean before applying grease; because bearings have no filters, dirt particles will stay inside causing severe damage.

Check and Clean the Tires

Tires should be regularly checked, inflated, aligned and balanced. Contact patch of tire on road will vary by tire pressure and weight of car but often is 30–40 square inches per tire.

Tip: Check tread depth with penny; when Lincoln's head is facing down, if part of head is covered by tread, tires are adequate.

Scrub tires and wheels regularly with pH-balanced cleaner safe for all metals and surfaces; check for uneven wear patterns, which could indicate alignment, balance or shock issues; rotate and balance tires with every other oil change.

Clean the Car

Keep underside of vehicle free of salt and dirt.

Tip: Dirt can contain salt, chlorides and fertilizer and can hold water against metal; this can corrode even some stainless steels, as well as lines and exhaust systems, nuts and bolts.

Proper cleaning can keep car looking good. Only use cleaners recommended for your vehicle; liquid dishwashing detergent can strip protective waxes and sealant, leaving paint vulnerable.

Occasional waxing protects clear coat from acids, tree saps and deposits. Silicones and carnauba wax help prevent future deposits, making cleaning easier.

Insect spatters can etch into clear coat, leaving permanent spot, which must be polished out.

Tip: To keep interior clean and in good shape, always use sunshade and regularly apply protector to upholstery and dash.