You’ll have to do more than just fuel it and drive it if you want your car to last. Further, if you make it a point to always give your car what it needs, the vehicle will happily return the favor. Neglect its care, your car will leave you stranded at some point.
Hopefully, this will happen somewhere convenient like in your driveway on a lovely spring morning. However, it could just as easily be late at night, in the dead of winter, 50 miles from the nearest town.
These smart car care tips will help you show your car the love it requires to prevent either circumstance — and save you money besides.
Check and Change the Oil
Oil is the life’s blood of your car’s engine. Bathing all of the moving parts in a warm slippery bath, oil reduces the amount of friction the engine must endure. As a result, mechanical components wear more quickly when the engine’s oil level is too low. This can lead to a catastrophic failure.
Similarly, old oil’s ability to provide lubrication is compromised. It can also leave sludge deposits in critical areas, which can lead to malfunctions. Your car’s owner’s manual will outline the manufacturer’s recommended intervals for oil changes.
Pay Close Attention to Your Tires
Four little patches of rubber, about the size of the palm of your hand, are all that communicate your steering and braking instructions to the street. Yes, there are a number of mechanical components in between, but your tires have to be in good shape to make a difference.
Tires with healthy tread grip the road better and disperse water more efficiently when driving in the rain. Your tires must also be inflated to the proper air pressure to perform optimally. Let them get low on air, or overinflate them, and they’ll wear prematurely too. Most cars have tire pressure monitoring sensors these days, but you must still inspect your tires for wear.
Change Fuel and Air Filters as Required
A dirty air filter will reduce the amount of oxygen entering your engine. This will impede its performance potential as well as make it consume more fuel. Air filters are usually pretty easy to change and inexpensive to purchase.
In other words, they’re a cheap way to keep your car running right.
A trained mechanic, unless you’re really skilled with tools and know your car well, should do your fuel filter changes though. Fuel can ignite and the filters can be tough to get to. However, a dirty fuel filter will eventually kill your engine.
Lower Your Car Payment
While not exactly a maintenance tip per se, this one can help you save money you might need to perform maintenance or effect an unexpected repair. Car loans are usually pretty reasonably priced and easily managed — if you shop carefully. However, there may have been interest rate reductions, or your credit score may have improved since you got the loan. If either of these is the case, a refinance will get you a lower payment.
Weekly Washes and Biannual Waxes
Depending upon the nature of the climate in which you live, washing your car on a weekly basis will keep it looking new longer. While that will have little effect on how it runs, you’ll feel better about your car every time you see it when you keep it clean.
Waxing your car twice a year will provide good protection for your paint. Do so just before the end of autumn and again at the beginning of summer. This will freshen its protection going into the most inclement seasons and give you a shiny car to drive during the warm weather months.
These smart car care tips will help you avoid the most common issues people encounter. You’ll find more detailed car care advice at CarCareCouncil.org.