Our cars are our babies or at least big investments. Like anything worth owning, you have to do some work to keep it up to snuff.
We recommend taking your car to a mechanic if you feel nervous about the following tasks, but car-buffs can do it themselves.
Accelerate your preventative car maintenance game below.
Read Your Owners Manual
As simple as this tip sounds, the majority of car owners never crack open their manual. It sits gathering dust in the glove compartment feeling like an encyclopedia post-internet.
Inside this unused car bible is all sorts of helpful things you need to know. Not every car needs its oil replaced every 3,000 miles.
Some can handle more, some less, yet everyone believes the 3k rule mechanics tell them.
Along with how often to get your oil changed, the manual will tell you what type of oil to change it to. The same goes for the grade of gas and other branded specifics.
Don’t know where to locate something on your car? Look in the owners manual. Unlike forums on the internet, it has answers written for your car.
Check Your Fluids
Even the least automotive aware person can check fluid levels. The only thing you need to know is how to open the hood and check the liquid lines.
Most people only check their wiper fluid, since they notice when it runs out. They’re missing at least four others.
If you don’t know where your fluids are under the hood, check your owners manual.
Open the hood and then check for adequate
- Power Steering
- Wiper Fluid
- Oil Color & Amount
The best place to check these is outside of a car parts store or before you give your car to the mechanic. The majority of these fluids come in multi-gallon jugs, so it’s heavy to carry them around.
Replace Your Windshield Wipers
It’s easy to say, “I can see through the streaks”, but did you know bad wipers can damage the car? If your wipers break down the mechanical line, you’re looking at a couple hundred dollars.
Before you go to the parts store, give your windshield a good cleaning inside and out. It’s possible (but not probable) that you’re dealing with dirt and not a wiper issue.
These, too, are available at auto parts stores. If you buy them before taking your car for a check-up, the mechanic will likely pop them on for you.
You can find your windshield wiper information in, you guessed it, owners manual.
Check Tire Pressure
Along with these other tasks, take time every week or so to look around your car. How is your tire pressure? Tire gauges are cheap and easy to keep in your glove department.
Your optimal tire pressure is one thing that won’t be in your owners manual, though. You’ll need to look on your actual tires for that.
On the sidewall of the tire, you’ll see a bunch of little words, one of which will say “Max PSI”. Whatever number follows those words is the most air pressure your tires can hold.
It’s safe to fill up your tires with air at a gas station or car service station but never exceed that number. Test as you go with your gauge.
Some air-pressure machines have a gauge built in that reads your pressure on the screen.
While you’re filling or checking your tires, take a penny and measure your tires wear and tear.
Take good old Abraham Lincoln and put him head-down in your tire treads. If his whole head shows, you need new tires.
Check this often, because worn out tire treats aren’t something to mess around with. They can increase your risk of accidents, spinouts, slips, and other scary things.
The other reason to check often? Tires are expensive (but worth the splurge!) and the more time you have to save up the better.
Follow a Schedule
Once again, we can’t tell you the right times to do all the following tasks. Only your mechanic or manual can tell you specifics.
Use the following numbers as a loose estimate.
Every 3,000 to 5,000 Miles
Your oil filter and oil need replacing about every four months or couple thousand miles. When you get your oil changed it’s a good time to replace the fluids we talked about above.
Check them more often, but if you can’t – your oil change is a good timing reminder.
Every 15,000 to 25,000
The air filter in your motor gets forgotten about a lot, but it has a huge effect on your gas mileage. Can’t figure out why you’re spending more on gas?
A dirty air filter could be the culprit. These are cheap parts to change and buy, so make sure you check it every two oil changes or so.
30,000 to 50,000
Battery replacement time! Your battery life depends on the quality of the battery brand, but 30,000 miles is about average life.
The same goes for spark plugs, which are a little more complicated than other self-done checks but not impossible. You can ask a mechanic to do it for you or watch some (car specific!) tutorials on YouTube.
60,000 Miles Plus
Time to replace brakes, brake pads, brake fluid, coolant, timing belts, and tires.
Not everyone’s car will be ready for this at 60k exactly, but it’s time to check. Think of this as the high-school graduation of your car. Some things will need transitioning or trading up.
Preventative Car Maintenance
While you can do small things like replacing your wiper fluid at home, you should take your car to a mechanic for anything outside your comfort range.
They’re skilled at preventative car maintenance and will give you a good price, as long as you find the good guys.
We like to think we’re on that list, but only you can judge. Call or submit a form online to get started today.