April is National Car Care Month

Hello spring, good bye winter. Welcome to April! April in the automotive industry is known as National Car Care Month. With that in mind we focus on the importance of car care and preventative maintenance. One good resource on this subject is carcare.org, a valuable tool.

Belts and Hoses

A key component to keeping your vehicle running and on the road.

                Service Life

Serpentine or Drive belts should be replaced between 60,000 and 100,000 miles

V Belts should be replaced between 30-50k miles

Timing Belt (usually replaced with other timing components) between 60-90k miles

                What to look for

Squeaking noise coming from under the hood

Engine overheating

Smell of burnt rubber


The braking system is the most critical safety system for any vehicle. Service life depends on driving habits, miles driven, temperature, and many other factors. This system needs to be inspected often.

                What to look for

Noise while braking

Soft or Spongy brake pedal

Vibration or pulsation in steering wheel or brake pedal

Unusual odor or smoke

Cooling System

This system is designed to cool the engine at operating temperature and transfer the heat through the radiator and coolant. Coolant should last around 5 years and the water pump, radiator should be inspected at least every year and replaced around 100,000 miles.

 What to look for


Heat not working properly

Sweet Smell



There are many different types of filters on your vehicle. The main ones we are going to focus on are the oil, air, cabin, and fuel filter. Oil filters should be replaced every oil change or every 5,000 miles. Be careful not all oil filters will last the same amount of time as some premium oils. Air filters should be replaced at least every year or as needed. Cabin filters should be replaced every year of every 12,000 miles. Fuel filters should last up to 60,000 miles in newer vehicles, however older vehicles may only last 20,000 miles.

What to look for

Oil and fuel filters need to be serviced at the recommended intervals. To inspect your air filter hold it up to a light, if you can see light passing through then it is still good, if not, time to replace. If your interior has an odor or musty smell to it, it’s time to replace your cabin air filter.


Once again this is a key safety function of your vehicle and needs to be inspected often. Believe it or not your headlights dim over time, which is why they need to be replaced. A standard halogen bulb will last around 450-500 hours, while some LEDs will last up to 7 years. Just remember to always replace in pairs. When purchasing headlights, the brighter the bulb the less life you will get out of it. You have to find a happy middle with brightness and longevity.

What to look for

Should be inspected often

Lights not as bright as they used to be

Spark Plugs

This part is near and dear to my heart since I worked for a spark plug manufacturer for many years. Let me tell you there is a huge difference in plugs and a lot of technology that goes into these parts. Spark plugs directly effect your gas mileage and engine performance. Service life all depends on your vehicle and the type of plug you put in. Never put a spark plug into your vehicle unless it meets the OE specifications. Always ask what type of spark plug your shop is putting in, this is an area you do not want to go cheap on. If you have 90,000 miles and haven’t replaced your spark plugs, you are driving on barrowed time.

                What to look for

Poor fuel economy or acceleration

Rough idle or hard starts


Steering and suspension

This system is another key safety component to your vehicle and should be inspected often. The average shock or strut should be changed every 50,000 miles. Other steering and suspension parts need to be maintained and inspected often. Once again how you drive, and road conditions play a huge role in the life of this system.

                What to look for

Clicking noise

Play in the steering wheel

Vehicle is pulling to one side or another

Bouncing when going over a bump

We went over a lot and just scratched the surface. Do not get overwhelmed. A good shop will inspect all these systems every time you bring your vehicle in for service. They can also build a preventative maintenance schedule for your vehicle. If you need a good, honest shop, I encourage you to give American Tire and Automotive a try. We inspect all of these systems for FREE every time you bring your vehicle in. We want to help you keep your vehicle safe and on the road. AMTIREAUTO.com

In honor of National Car Care Month, we are doing FREE safety inspections, no appointment needed. We are also offering shock/strut rebates and discounts off preventative maintenance items.

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