Cars have come a long way since their inception, from impressive new technologies to crazy efficient MPG.  Nonetheless, there isn’t a vehicle on the road that doesn’t need to be maintained and cared for to ensure it operates safely and efficiently.  While car manufacturers generally supply a maintenance schedule for new vehicles, it’s always good to know some of the underrated services that can help keep older (and newer) cars working and functioning to the best of their ability.

Here are 5 “Underrated” car services:

A/C Recharging:

You’ve loaded up all your favorite playlists and your cooler is packed with all your summertime favorites to keep you cool & refreshed in the hot, afternoon heat. Thirty minutes into the drive, you realize you’re sweating and your AC vents are blowing out hot & stale air. There are many pieces that keep the AC system functioning, and each piece of this complex puzzle can be a reason for failure – from the condenser, to the filter, to the multiple wires and connections.  This service is not as simple as recharging the refrigerant, but involves testing the system for loose components, leaks & other damaged components.  It is best to keep this system working properly BEFORE your beautiful summer day turns into an uncomfortable sweaty mess!

Winter Tires:

This winter has been one of the cruelest for many parts of the US.  The folks on the east coast seem to be in major need of Vitamin D from being stuck indoors while they are pounded by inches upon inches of snow.  When the snow lets up, we’ll all need to get back to our everyday lives, which means getting back on the roads.  Making sure your car has tires that have the grip and control needed to navigate through the snow, sleet, ice and slush not only creates a better driving experience; it also improves your traction, grip, and even braking.

Alignment:

Alignment is definitely one of the most underrated services you can have done for your car. When was the last time you were in a city where every street, road, freeway, or highway was completely smooth as if it were just paved?  Potholes, cracks, uneven pavement, and many other conditions of a road can slowly affect a vehicle’s alignment.  It’s not a fun experience when you find your car veering off to the left or right when the wheel should stay centered.  We recommend this underrated service be done every 12,000 miles.  Proper alignment can help prolong your tire life, help boost your MPG’s and even reduce wear on your steering system.

Braking System Evaluation:

If we break a car’s function into 2 simple operational stages, we have start and stop.  Let’s focus on the ‘stop’ part of this for a moment.  If your steering wheel shakes when you brake, you are in need of brake service.  If you hear a screeching sound coming to a stop, you are in need of brake service.  If your brakes are soft and “fluffy” when you brake, you guessed it; you are in need of brake service.  We find this to be underrated given that you can easily have your brakes evaluated, usually in a matter of minutes.  Just like the other major systems in your car, the braking system is complex and has many parts and pieces, from cylinders, to brake pads, rotors, and of course, the ever important brake fluid. Be sure to have your brakes evaluated regularly to avoid finding yourself in a situation where you are unable to stop your vehicle properly in an emergency situation.

Fluids, filters, and wipers, oh my!

Some people have the knowledge to install and replace these components themselves (ideally using parts from the OEM that made your car).  That said, the majority of people don’t have the time or know-how to be able to address these vital pieces to the proper function of their car.  From automatic transmission fluid, to coolant, to windshield-wiper fluid; cars require several fluids to maintain their proper performance.  Filters, just like in your coffee machine, are extremely important. Imagine the sludge that the coffee filter catches ending up into your engine and its systems; or worse, nothing getting through at all because they are clogged and ineffective.  Air filters & fluids should be routinely checked and replaced regularly. Being able to see clearly is essential to a safe & enjoyable driving experience. The moment you find your windshield wipers not being able to clear your windshield of water, dirt, and other obstructions, do yourself a favor and get them replaced!

Check out the video below to see how you can keep your Toyota a Toyota.

For more information, visit: http://www.toyota.com/owners/web/pages/parts-service.

Happy & Safe Driving!

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at guilfoil.j@blastmagazine.com. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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