If an all-wheel drive vehicle recently entered your life, there are different maintenance issues compared to a conventional car or truck an owner should be aware of such as the front differential. Regular checks of and changing the fluid in differentials are strongly advised; in some cases, at no more than 48,000 to 57,600 kilometers. And it could be as frequently as every 38,000 kilometers. Make it a point to look under the vehicle for any types of leaks.

Behind the differentials is the transfer case, which allots power either to the front wheels, rear wheels, or all of the wheels. It also requires periodic service. Fluid levels must be examined. If during the inspection fluid has run out of the transfer case, that’s a sign of overfilling that might indicate a faulty seal in the rear of the transmission allowing fluid into the transfer case. When you check the fluid level in the transfer case, if a lot of fluid runs out as if it’s overfilled, well it probably is overfilled. And that’s probably because there’s a bad seal in the back of the transmission and transmission fluid is entering the transfer case. Have this attended to soon, otherwise repair costs could mushroom.

The motor on the transfer case shifts it through the gears. Since it’s exposed and has an electrical connector, at least once per year open the connector and coat it with di-electric grease to discourage internal corrosion.

Fluid must be changed regularly in the rear differential. That could be at 24,000 kilometers but usually at not more than 57,600 kilometers, and must be kept up regularly. Ensure the right lubricant is used, because most are locking differentials. The wrong lubricant may prevent the locking mechanism from functioning.

Self-leveling systems on SUVs and trucks require maintenance as well. They sense the vehicle’s height and switch on the air pump to maintain equilibrium, and they in turn rely on mechanical linkages for levelling. Avoid premature failure by lubricating when required.

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That show room appearance of your new vehicle can be maintained to some extent by using the proper wash methods. Each vehicle comes with protective wax. Keeping that intact as long as possible protects your purchase.

Do clean off the crud such as bird droppings, dead bugs, and atmospheric chemicals leach acids that can cause wax to slowly disappear. It’s important to use the correct wash agent which is milder and not abrasive.

Don’t use glass cleaner on the paint, dishwashing detergent or hand soap. Use a natural, soft sponge or a lamb’s-wool mitt to apply the suds. Different areas of your vehicle call for different cleaning methods. Road-tar deposits, rubber, and grease often congregate around the lower edge of the body and wheel wells. For those areas, a stronger product may be required such as bur-and-tar remover. Use a non-abrasive cloth to remove material.

To clean the tires and wheels use a separate sponge. Otherwise, brake dust, sand and other material could be transferred to the vehicle’s finish that’ll eventually become marred.

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Normally, car owners leave it to their mechanic to check the health of their vehicle’s transmission. Considering the transmission is as important as the engine, it’s important for a vehicle owner to check the transmission as well for not only the proper fluid level but to use the fluid to give some indication of a potential problem. It’s time well spent for a transmission can be costly to repair. The most obvious method to determine the level is to use the dipstick. Also check under your vehicle while in the driveway or a parking spot for signs of leaks. Remember that snow plowing and stop-and-start driving shortens the life of transmission fluid. Be alert while driving for fluid odours, popping, or hesitating gears and unusual buzzing or whining noises.