Do you want to be driving your car for years? You can if you take good care of it. Whether it’s because you love your car or because you just want to keep enjoying it once you’ve finally finished paying it off, regular car maintenance is the way forward.
Servicing your car regularly and keeping it well maintained is essential to keeping it running well as the odometer creeps ever higher. You have to get regular service, which may include some things you can’t or won’t want to do yourself, like flushing the transmission or even changing the oil. And there are some car maintenance tasks that you pretty much have to do yourself, like monitoring the tire pressure.
Get Your Oil Changed Every 5,000 to 7,500 Miles
Oil is the lifeblood of your car and it needs to be changed regularly, to ensure that the oil in your engine is reasonably clean and that there’s enough of it to do its job. Your oil filter should be changed at the same time as your engine oil. When you gas up, check your oil and make sure it’s between the min-max lines on the dipstick and that it looks clean and normal. If there’s too much or too little oil or it looks weird, that could be a sign of a problem in the making.
Check Your Tire Pressure and Tread Once a Month
The right tire pressure optimizes your gas mileage and the safety and maneuverability of your car. It also prevents uneven or untimely tire wear. Check your tire pressure once a month using a tire pressure gauge. Check your tread once a month using the penny trick. Put a penny between your tire’s treads, with Abe’s head facing down and toward you. If part of his head is obscured by the tread, you’re good. If you can see his whole head, it’s time for a new tire.
Examine Your Windshield Wipers for Damage at the End of Every Season
Damaged windshield wipers can damage your windshield, and it’s hard to drive when your windshield wipers aren’t effective at clearing your field of vision. At the end of every season, check your windshield wipers for signs of damage. You will probably need to replace them every year or so.Clean Your Battery Terminals Every Six Months
Dirty battery terminals can crack your battery or keep your car from starting. You can buy a wire brush designed to clean your battery terminals, or use air compressor (AC) tools like a blower to remove the corrosion. Make sure you replace your car battery every five years.
Know Your Maintenance Schedule and Follow It
Read your owner’s manual – in its pages you will find a maintenance schedule for your car. In addition to regular oil changes every 5,000 go 7,500 miles, cars need more detailed service every 30,000 miles, roughly. Your owner’s manual will tell you what needs to be done at each service – what hoses, belts, and filters should be replaced, what systems should be flushed, what needs to be inspected, and so on. Take the list with you to the mechanic so they can’t upsell you on services your car doesn’t need.
Check Your Lights and Signals Once a Month
Driving with a dead brake light, head light, or turn signal light could get you a ticket. Plus, the lights on your car are important for safety – they help you see and be seen, and they help you signal to other drivers when you plan to make a turn or when you’re slowing down.
You need to check all your lights regularly to make sure they still work. Once a month, enlist a friend or neighbor to stand outside your car and observe as you systematically turn on the headlights, the fog lights, the high beams, the turn signals, and the brake lights. If one of your lights is out, don’t panic – you can usually change the light bulbs on your car pretty easily yourself, and they’re not usually expensive. You can pick up the bulbs you need at the automotive parts store, and wear rubber gloves when you handle the bulb – if the oils from your fingers get into the glass, they can shorten the bulb’s life.
Maintaining your car isn’t as hard as it might seem on the surface. Make sure you know what maintenance your car needs and when it needs it, so you can keep driving your car long into the future.
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