Subaru Car Care Tips

As the seasons change from one to the next, it is always a good time to tackle the simple maintenance tasks that keep your Subaru in top running condition.

Timely maintenance does more than keep your Subaru running smoothly. It can help increase your car's trade-in value, improve its mileage, and save you time and costly repairs down the road.

  • Belts. With the engine off, check your car's belts for cracks and missing pieces. To check for proper tightness, press down on the belt with your thumb. If the belt gives more than half an inch, it needs tightening.
  • Hoses. When the car is cold, feel your car's hoses for bulges, cracks, soft spots or brittleness. With the engine running, look for (but don't touch) bulges or leaks. If you detect any, have the hose replaced. Note: Avoid replacing air conditioning hoses yourself. Their pressurized gases can cause serious injury.
  • Coolant. Check the level of coolant in your radiator by looking at the coolant overflow tank. Maintaining a 50/50 mix of antifreeze will keep your engine cool in hot weather and prevent damage when temperatures fall as low as 40 below zero. Note: Do not remove the radiator cap until the engine is turned off and has cooled down.
  • Power Steering Fluid. To check, pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, and insert it again. Pull it out again and check the level. If it is below the HOT range, add the recommended steering fluid to the upper level mark. Note: If the fluid level is extremely low or fluid has been replaced, contact your Subaru dealer.
  • Oil. Depending on the driving conditions your Subaru is subjected to, change your oil and filter as recommended in your Owner's Manual. Also, use the recommended oil grade.

  • Brake Fluid. Check the fluid level on the outside of the tank using the lines on the reservoir as a guide. If the level is below MIN, add brake fluid from a sealed container to bring it up to MAX. You'll notice a significant drop in fluid levels when there's a leak. Note: Brake fluid absorbs moisture from the air. Any absorbed moisture can cause a dangerous loss of braking performance. If your brake fluid tank requires frequent refilling, there may be a leak. Contact your Subaru dealer immediately.
  • Air Filter. Again, depending on the condition of the roads traveled by your Subaru, routinely check your air filter for accumulated debris.
  • Battery. Check your battery terminals regularly, removing any corrosion with a toothbrush and a mix of baking soda and water.
  • Tires. Check your tire pressure (with tires cold) once a month or more. Keep tires inflated to manufacturer's recommendations, which can be found on the driver's side door frame placard and in the owner's manual.
  • Wipers, Washers, Horn And Lights. Finally, be sure to check the operation of your car's wipers, windshield washers, horn and lights. Tip: Isopropyl alcohol makes wiper blade clean-up in a snap!


TIRE WEAR

We all know that tires wear. There are certain things you, as an owner, can do to help minimize this wear.

Keep your tires properly inflated. 
  • This is perhaps the single most important thing you can do. Information on correct tire inflation pressure is provided in your owner's manual and on a placard on the driver's door pillar. How often you check your tire inflation is up to you. As a rule of thumb, tires should be checked every time you fill your car with gas. Remember that tires should be checked when cold since tire pressure will increase as the tires warm up.

Rotate your tires regularly. 

SUBARU recommends tires should be rotated every 7,500 miles. These are recommended intervals only. Your actual driving conditions may warrant more frequent rotation. Factors such as road surfaces, driving techniques/habits, vehicle loading, and weather, to name just a few, can all have an effect on tire wear.
 


Tire Replacement. 
  • The wheels and tires are important and integral parts of your vehicle's design; they cannot be changed arbitrarily. The tires fitted as standard equipment are optimally matched to the characteristics of the vehicle and were selected to give the best possible combination of running performance, ride comfort, and service life. It is essential for every tire to have a size and construction as well as a speed symbol and load index matching those shown on the tire placard. Using tires of a non-specified size detracts from controllability, ride comfort, braking performance, as well as speedometer and odometer accuracy. It also creates incorrect body-to-tire clearances and inappropriately changes the vehicle's ground clearance. All four tires must be the same in terms of manufacturer, brand (tread pattern), construction, and size. You are advised to replace the tires with new ones that are identical to those fitted as standard equipment.
  • For safe vehicle operation, SUBARU recommends replacing all four tires at the same time. WARNING: All four tires must be the same in terms of manufacturer, brand (tread pattern), construction, degree of wear, speed symbol, load index and size. Mixing tires of different types, sizes or degrees of wear can result in damage to the vehicle's power train. Use of different types or sizes of tires can also dangerously reduce control and braking performance and can lead to an accident. Use radial tires but don't combine with belted bias tires and/or bias-ply tires. Doing so can dangerously reduce control which can result in an accident.


Oil & AIR FILTERS

Road dust, fuel system condensation and engine-oil sludge are unseen enemies that can cause harm to your engine, or prevent it from working at its best. Your best defense? Visit your Subaru dealer for genuine Subaru filter replacements to help ensure that your engine lives a healthy, high-mileage life. Refer to your vehicle's Warranty and Maintenance Booklet for recommended maintenance schedules.

Oil Filters

Motor oil circulates through your engine to lubricate all the moving parts. Along the way, dirt, grit and fine metallic and carbon particles contaminate motor oil and, if improperly filtered out, may ruin your engine. Today's high-detergent oils are formulated to suspend contaminants until they can be effectively trapped by the oil filter. Regularly changed oil filters protect your engine by removing the suspended particles from your motor oil.

Fuel Filters

  • Today's sophisticated fuel injection systems demand clean fuel in order to run smoothly. From the gas tank to your engine, fuel can pick up contaminants like dirt and condensation. If these contaminants are not properly filtered out they will cause reduced engine performance, rough idling and may eventually damage the sensitive fuel injection components. Fuel filters changed using the recommended maintenance schedule can help you avoid expensive repairs.

Air Filters

Your engine needs a great deal of air to run properly. If air is not properly filtered, dust and other suspended particles get into the combustion chamber where they may become lodged between the piston and cylinder wall, causing wear. This may result in loss of acceleration, decreased power and lower gas mileage.
 


Remember, ALWAYS insist on genuine Subaru Filters - your best defense against the most abusive elements.


WIPER CARE

You might take them for granted -- until it rains, and suddenly your safety depends on them. Windshield wipers always need to stay in top condition because you never know when you'll need them to help you see the road.

  • Wipers take a beating from extreme temperatures, acid rain, road salt, sand, and ice scraper abuse. The rubber can crack, split, tear, become contaminated with road film or chemicals or warp from long exposure to heat, cold or ice. Improvements are being made in blade materials, but air pollution still takes its toll.

You can clear up many windshield problems by replacing the blades. If water beads up on the glass, or if wiper action creates a hazy, oily film, clean the glass and replace the blades. Beading and hazing are most often caused by car wax build-up or driving behind a vehicle that was losing brake fluid or engine oil. If wipers leave streaks or "skip" on each stroke, the arm may be bent or applying incorrect pressure. Blades and arms should be inspected every four to six months.


Meanwhile, every time you wash your car (weekly, hopefully), clean the rubber blade with a mild detergent and rinse with water. You'll remove most pollutants attacking the rubber, help increase blade life and reduce windshield smearing. If taking a rear wiper-equipped Subaru through a commercial car wash, temporarily tape the rear wiper to the glass to avoid damage during the wash.


CHECK ENGINE LIGHT

When you start your vehicle, the check engine light comes on momentarily to test the engine/emission control system and bulb. The system is self-diagnostic and the light is a way to communicate trouble. The system is designed to function in a "limp home" mode when trouble occurs and the light comes on - and stays on. However, take your vehicle to an authorized Subaru dealer right away. The technicians have specialized tools and training to access trouble codes stored in the vehicle's memory each time the light is illuminated. This is a sophisticated system, with the ability to detect and store information about even the slightest changes.
One item which may seem insignificant but which can cause the system to detect trouble is a loose or missing fuel filler cap. Remove the cap, then tighten it until it clicks. If you are unsure whether the loose cap was the cause or if the light stays on, visit your Subaru dealer. 
The light also can come on if you have installed electrically powered accessories (such as a radar detector or keyless entry system) that aren't compatible with your vehicle's systems. If the light comes on and such accessories are installed, Subaru technicians may need to disconnect them before any further diagnosis can take place. Subaru-approved accessories are thoroughly tested to prevent such problems.


BATTERY MAINTENANCE

All Subaru vehicles are equipped with maintenance-free batteries. The term "maintenance-free" can be misleading - as these batteries do require some attention to maintain their cleanliness and efficiency.

It is extremely important to have your car's battery checked by a Subaru-trained technician regularly. A battery check will include an examination of cable connections for cleanliness and tightness. Loose or corroded connections can dramatically diminish your car's starting power; and if the connections grow loose or crusty enough, they can shut off your car's electrical flow entirely and leave you thinking you have a dead battery.

  • High temperatures also reduce the efficiency at which a battery is recharged.

Summer driving conditions frequently require the use of A/C for extended periods while driving at slow speeds. This additional load requires the charging system to work properly so that it sufficiently charges the battery the next time you start your car's engine. For this reason, your service technician should also check your battery's charging system and voltage regulator, and inspect your vehicle's alternator to ensure that all components are operating properly.


SHOCKS AND STRUTS

Shocks and struts influence the control and handling characteristics of your vehicle while holding the tires to the road. They control the action of the spring to resist bottoming out -- like when you hit a pothole -- and keep the movement of the springs under control when they rebound. Without shocks and struts, a vehicle would continually bounce and bound down the road, making driving difficult.

"It is important that shocks and struts are in top condition during the summer months," says James Plogger, vice president of sales for Gabriel Ride Control Products, Inc. "It is recommended that vehicle owners have their vehicles' ride control systems checked by an ASE certified service technician."

How They Work
Shocks provide resistance by forcing hydraulic fluid (oil) through valves in the piston as it moves up and down. Because the oil cannot be compressed, only a certain amount of fluid can be forced through these valves, which creates resistance to the vehicle movement.


How to Tell if Shocks and Struts Need Replacement

Under normal conditions, shocks and struts wear out gradually. However, many factors can affect how much wear is actually occurring and at what rate it is occurring.

"For example, two people buy the same vehicle new off the dealer lot -- one lives in the city close to the office, and drives mostly on straight roads. The other lives in the country, 45 miles from the office and must travel 10 of those miles on a winding, often muddy gravel road. Because shocks operate in an extremely hostile under-vehicle environment, where anything from gravel to ice, and snow to grit can affect the life of the product, it is a good bet that driver number two will need to replace his shocks long before driver number one," explains Plogger.

The piston rod can easily be nicked or damaged by flying gravel allowing grit and dirt to damage the piston seal.

Among signs of worn shocks or struts:

  • Do you experience excessive bounce (three or more bounces) when crossing an intersection?
  • When stopping quickly does your vehicle rock back and forth? 
  • While applying your brakes firmly at higher speeds, does your vehicle drift left or right? 
  • When changing lanes quickly does your vehicle rock or sway from side to side?

Many components contribute to handling. Having your vehicle inspected by a Subaru Certified Technician if you experience any of the above signs is good preventive maintenance.


TRAVEL TIPS

Save Money and Stay Safe

Planning to vacation by car this summer? Getting the right preventative maintenance before you leave can help prevent roadside delays, and even increase your gas mileage!

Our service experts recommend checking these systems:

  • Oil and Filter. Fresh filters help provide better fuel economy, smoother running and optimum power. Oil is your engine's lifeblood. It is extremely important that the engine oil and filter be changed regularly, and especially before a long trip. Change the oil and oil filter according to the maintenance schedule in the Subaru Warranty and Maintenance Booklet.
  • Tires. To extend tire life, keep wear uniform and have your car's tires rotated if they haven't been within the last 7,500 miles. Any unevenly worn or damaged tires should be replaced. Also, check and adjust your tire pressure according to the tire placard on the inside driver's door frame for the best fuel economy, ride comfort and handling.
  • Cooling system. A properly functioning cooling system is critical to engine operation. It is recommended that the cooling system and hose connections be checked frequently for leaks, damage or looseness.
  • Your best bet. Consider taking advantage of the 25-point Vehicle Inspection. A Subaru-trained technician will perform a thorough, multi-point inspection of your Subaru, paying special attention to safety and maintenance items.
Proper preventative maintenance can help ensure that your vehicle provides safe and trouble-free motoring throughout your travels. 



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Ed Reilly Subaru

150 Manchester St
Directions Concord, NH 03301

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