If you own a car, you probably want to take good care of it. After all, it may be one of your most valuable assets. At the same time, you may not know what maintenance tasks to perform. Is it enough to change the oil every now and then? Not quite.
Here are ten car maintenance tips to keep your car running smoothly:
- Regularly clean the interior and exterior
Cars can get incredibly dirty because they are always outside and operate on gasoline and oil. So it’s important to give them a wash and even a wax treatment at least every six months.
Of course, the inside of the car can get dirty, too, from passengers leaving trash and crumbs everywhere. So be sure to vacuum your car regularly as well.
- Check fluid levels
Cars have a lot of different fluids in them, and they all need to be checked every now and then. These include the oil, coolant, power steering fluid, windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid.
Each serves its purpose and some don’t need to be checked as often as others, but you need to keep an eye on them nonetheless. Otherwise, it could lead to more serious (and expensive) issues down the line.
- Change the oil
Oil lubricates major components of your car’s engine. But it also accumulates dirt that builds up, making the oil less effective. So it’s important to change the oil out about every 7,500 to 10,000 miles to keep it clean. Otherwise, it could damage your engine.
- Pay attention to your tire tread
Over time, the tread on your tires will wear out and you’ll need to replace them. But you don’t want to wait until they blow out on the road. This can be extremely dangerous and lead to a terrible accident (in which case, you should consult a reputable auto accident attorney like BRSLaw.com).
Instead, monitor the tread on your tires with the quarter test. Place a quarter in between the ridges in the tire and see if it covers George Washington’s head. If his head is fully visible, it’s time to get new tires.
- Rotate your tires
To extend the lifetime of your tires, consider rotating them. This means swapping the front tires for the back tires and vice versa. Why? Because your tires wear differently based on where they are on your car. By rotating them, you can maximize how long they last. And it’s a relatively easy job. All you need is a car jack, jack stands, and a lug wrench. But of course, you can also have a mechanic do it. Either way, try to rotate them about every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
- Replace your air filter
Your car’s air filter keeps dirt, dust, sand, and other contaminants from getting inside the engine. Over time, it gets dirty, which causes the engine to work harder than it needs to. So it’s important to change the air filter out every so often. You can get a new one for as little as $20, and it’s easy to install on your own. All you need is a screwdriver.
- Change out your windshield wipers
If your windshield wipers are leaving streaks, coming out of the wiper arms, or not doing their job, it may be time to replace them. You can get a new set for as little as $50. And they typically come with instructions on how to install them.
- Keep your tires properly inflated
On top of monitoring the tread on your tires, it’s important to keep them properly inflated. If you drive with underinflated tires, it can accelerate the wear and tear and may result in a blowout.
So go to a gas station to use their air pump or invest in your own air compressor. Inflate your tires to whatever air pressure is listed on the side of the tire.
It’s also a good idea to keep a tire pressure gauge handy. Most car dashboards will alert you if your tires are getting too low, but some don’t. Also, don’t forget to keep your spare tire properly inflated as well.
- Don’t ignore leaks, sounds, smells, or dashboard lights
Leaks and odd sounds and smells can be a sign that something is wrong with your vehicle. If you notice anything, don’t be afraid to have a mechanic check it out. The same goes for dashboard alerts, especially the “check engine” light. Don’t ignore them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Get a regular mechanic inspection
Even when your car seems to be running fine, it’s a good idea to get it inspected about every 6 months or 5,000 miles. A routine checkup can alert you to potential issues down the line, and it’s always easier (and cheaper) to address them early. The best type of maintenance is preventative maintenance.