It’s safe to say that any one of us would want our car to last as long as possible and in top condition. Not only because of the money we spent to obtain it, but also because it plays an essential role in our life. After all, we use it to get chores done, go to work, meet up with friends, etc. Moreover, keeping our vehicle in tip-top shape helps ensure our safety as well as the safety of our passengers. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that maintaining our car’s good condition means minimizing repair costs which can result in huge savings.
All of that being said, a recent survey stated that around 77% of cars were in need of maintenance or repairs. Obviously, while most people would prefer to keep their cars in good shape, they might not actually know how to do so. That’s where we come in. Below is a compilation of tips and tricks from various experts on how to keep your car in tip-top shape.
Car Maintenance Checklist
You don’t need to be a mechanic to make sure that your car is well-maintained. This checklist should provide you with a simple maintenance program that you can follow to keep your car running smoothly.
Inspect and maintain your tires
To get every last mile out of your tires, you should perform a weekly inspection on them. Make sure that the tire pressure is the same as the manufacturer’s recommendation. Proper tire inflation reduces the amount of wear and tear on your tires. When your tires are under-inflated, it causes heat to build up within the tire which can lead to a blowout. Is a flat tire covered under warranty? Insurance doesn’t cover flats due to wear and tear, but a warranty often will. Low tire pressure also reduces fuel economy. Aside from tire pressure, you also need to check if tread wear indicators are showing which would let you know if your tires need replacing. If you find uneven wear, this might indicate a bent wheel, worn bushings, or internal tire damage.
Change the oil
Keep your engine running smoothly by routinely checking your car’s oil each weel. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation on how often you need to change it. Typically, you need to change the oil every 3,000 to 3,500 miles.
Check the fluids
Aside from the oil, you also need to keep an eye on the various fluids your car needs to run properly. These include the brake fluid, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and the coolant. You need to check the coolant and windshield wiper fluid every month. Keep in mind that you won’t need to change coolants that often, only once every 2 to 3 years or between 24,000 to 36,000 miles. That is, unless you drive in an extremely hot climate, then changing your coolant once a year is recommended.
Your transmission fluid won’t need to be checked nearly as often (every 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first), it should be flushed every 30,000 miles. Power steering fluid should also be checked regularly and topped off if necessary. As for your brake fluid, you can check them whenever you perform an oil change. You most likely won’t need to change the fluid as frequently (only every four to five years).
Test your lights
Sounds simple enough. But a lot of people forget to do this, especially when it comes to their tail lights. Both your headlights and tail lights help ensure your safety especially when you’re driving in bad weather. Doing a perimeter check on your car’s lights once a month will not only help prevent accidents, it will also help you avoid getting a ticket. Keep in mind that a broken tail light is illegal in most states.
Get regular tune-ups
While some of the items on our checklist can be done at home, there are some things that only a certified mechanic will be able to do such as replacing the alternator, wheel bearings, or your air filter. Moreover, there are some problems that only a professional may be able to detect such as issues with your fuel system, emission system, or electronic sensors.
Always use reputable mechanics
We take care in choosing our doctors whenever we feel sick. So, why shouldn’t you take care in choosing the right mechanic to check out your car? A good mechanic will make sure your car is in good working condition. A reputable one will make sure you only pay for the services and parts that you need.
Here’s another tip: make sure to get your car maintained in an auto collision repair near you. This not only allows you to easily drop by if maintenance and/or repairs take longer than a day. Some shops offer pickup and delivery of customers’ vehicles if their locations are nearby.
Drive with Care
While the key to keeping your car in good condition is through proper maintenance, driving with care can help prolong the lifespan of your vehicle. It can also help reduce the cost of repairs. Below are some sound driving habits that you should practice.
- Accelerate slowly when you start driving. It’s during the first 10 to 20 minutes of driving where the most wear on your engine occurs.
- Shift to neutral while idling at red lights. This reduces the amount of strain on your engine and automatic transmission.
- Avoid potholes or objects on the road as well as hitting the curb. This helps extend the life of your tires.
- Avoid excessive speeding. Slow down when driving over speed bumps. Both of these can increase wear and tear of your vehicle.
Whether your car is old or new, proper maintenance, sound driving habits, and regular tune-ups with a reputable mechanic are necessary to ensure your car remains in good shape for a long time. It will help prevent untimely repairs that can cost a fortune. More importantly, it will help keep you and your passengers safe while on the road.