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As a travel nurse, you depend heavily on your vehicle. Whether it’s a frigid winter start following a night shift or a cross-country trip in just a few days, you rely on safe transportation to see you through your journey. But even the most dependable vehicles need regular care and maintenance to stay at the top of their game. Follow the tips below to keep your car in good working order.
No matter the weather or your location, there are a few things every car needs from time to time.
Most auto manufacturers currently recommend changing the oil in your car every 7,500-10,000 miles, but you should refer to your car’s owner’s manual to find the right frequency. If you have a newer vehicle, it may be equipped with an oil life monitor which will use a light on the dashboard to indicate when it is time for an oil change. Remember to check your oil level frequently and if it looks dirty, it’s time to change it.
When you’re putting a lot of miles on your car, it’s important to know when your brakes need service. The following are signs of brakes that need attention:
• High pitched squealing when applying the brakes
• Vibration of the steering wheel when slowing
• Any unusual grinding sounds
• More effort needed to apply the brakes
• Unusual smells after stopping
Making sure your tires are in good shape can not only save you money, but keep you safe on the road. Here are some important things to check for:
• Pressure – Check your tires’ air pressure at least once a month. Underinflated tires can cause damage to the tire or create dangerous driving situations.
• Tread – Check your tires’ tread about once a month. An easy way to do this is with a penny. Insert the penny with the head upside down into the tread. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, the tread is less than 2/32 of an inch and your tires need to be replaced.
• Rotation – Regular tire rotation helps maintain fuel efficiency and prevents uneven wear and tear. Check your owner’s manual for recommended rotation intervals and be sure to rotate if you notice any signs of wear.
• Balance and Alignment – Proper balancing and alignment keep your tires wearing evenly and your car headed down the road without pulling to one side. These are simple services that can be performed at the same time as an oil change.
Testing your car’s battery at least twice a year is a good way to avoid getting stranded! Most auto parts stores, like O’Reilly, Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone, offer free testing that takes just a few minutes. Most batteries are made to last about 5 years, but regular testing will show you if you need a new one sooner. Driving in extreme hot or cold temperatures is tough on your batter and will shorten its life.
Air filters can be easily and inexpensively replaced – whether you choose to do it yourself or have it done during an oil change. If you’ve been driving a lot in heavy traffic or dust and wind, check your air filter frequently to make sure it’s still doing is job.
Cracked or warped wiper blades can hinder visibility and make unsafe driving conditions even worse. Remember to change yours every spring and fall, or more often if you drive in severe weather.
Keep your car looking sharp for the length of its life with regular washing and waxing. Wash your car at least monthly to remove dust, dirt, chemicals and other road grime that can damage its paint. Apply a coat of quality wax every 6 months to protect the paint and keep it shiny. No time to do it yourself? Take your car to a detail shop to save yourself some work, but make sure to choose a reputable one that uses high-quality products and will take great care of your vehicle.
Want to take the best care of your car you can but struggle to remember when it needs service? There are many easy-to-use smartphone apps that will keep you in the loop on your car’s maintenance needs, including oil changes, tire rotations, part replacement and cleaning.
When travel is such a big part of your life, you ask a lot out of your car! Make sure to give it the attention it needs to stay reliable and safe, mile after mile and assignment after assignment.