1-Basic Car Maintenance Tips & Services Checklist
Between work, family events, and the dozens of other obligations people have, basic car maintenance can fall by the wayside. However, performing regular maintenance on your vehicle matters more than you think.
2. Read Your Owner’s Manual
Your owner’s manual will tell you when your recommended services should happen. It contains a great deal of other helpful information, as well.
3. The Importance of Oil Changes
As we move further away from the days of conventional motor oils, most newer vehicles no longer have to have an oil and filter change every 3,000 miles. High-efficiency engines and high-quality oil have changed the way we approach this service. Some vehicles don’t have to get an oil change more than once every 7,000 - 10,000 miles. Due to how efficient engines and motor oils have become, commonly-held advice may not be correct anymore.
If your car still uses a carburetors, not performing oil changes regularly can be a reason why you may need a carburetor replacement.
4. Use the Correct Octane Rating
Higher is not always better when it comes to gasoline. You might be tempted to use a higher octane fuel to get more power. If sports cars perform better with higher octane fuel, what about your car?
5. Check Your Tire Pressure
Checking your tire pressure is important for your safety as well as overall maintenance. If your car doesn’t have a tire pressure sensor or TPMS, invest a few bucks in a tire gauge and check your tire pressure regularly. Having the right tire pressure helps to improve fuel efficiency and control regular tire wear. Good tire pressure will also help you know if your vehicle is correctly aligned. Don't forget to check the spare tire!
6. Get Your Tires Rotated
As much as we want them to, tires don't wear evenly on their own. The front tires and the back tires carry different loads on different vehicles. The best way to ensure more even wear and tear is to get your tires rotated. It can also help the car drive better.
7. Check Out Your Car
Take a few moments to look at your car each day. There are a few reasons to do this, but the main reason has to do with vehicle health. Regularly reviewing your car clues you into things on the exterior that need tending to such as tire pressure, cracks in the windshield, and chipped paint.
8. Learn Your Vehicle’s Warning Lights
No one likes seeing a warning light turn on. It could turn a simple spin around town into a stressful drive home. That's why you should learn what each warning light means and what to do when one is on.
9. Get Your Car’s Fluids Checked
Like tires and lights, it's a good idea to check your vehicle's fluid levels. Even if you leave changing them up to the pros, you should still know how to check them.
10. Ask About Serpentine and Timing Belts
The serpentine belt is one of the most important parts of your car and one that flies under the radar. Usually made of rubber, these belts are used to drive and assist timing of many important car parts, like the AC condenser, water pump, power steering, and alternator. If damaged, your engine could overheat and stop. The serpentine belt is vital to your vehicle's performance and needs care.
11. Check Your Car Battery
While most modern batteries don't need much tending to, it's good to know how to check them and where they are. This is especially true if you suspect there's an issue with your battery.
12. Don’t Wait to Replace Wipers
Old and worn-out windshield wipers won't work very well, or at all, which means you won't be able to see if you are driving in inclement weather. Don’t wait for a larger repair job to replace your wipers.
13. Replace the Engine Air Filter
Think of the engine air filter as your car’s lungs. Your car "breathes" better with clean filters. According to FuelEconomy.gov, the official U.S. government source for fuel information, replacing filters improves acceleration and fuel economy.
14. Check Spark Plugs and Break Pads
Clean and working spark plugs are essential to a smooth running engine. However, as with the battery, your spark plugs can get covered in buildup. Dirtier spark plugs mean the engine has to work harder to get a spark. You may have to clean or replace the spark plugs throughout the life of your car. Luckily, spark plugs are one of the easiest and cheapest engine parts to replace. Check your owner’s manual for when it's best to replace them. In general, you should check about once every year.
15. Be Nice to Your Car
A clean car not only makes for a happy driver, it helps the car run better, too. This is probably the simplest car maintenance advice, but it's easily overlooked. With how busy life gets, car owners often don't make time to clean out and wash a car. Here's why you should be nice to your car.
Consider Replacing Your Car
Depending on the condition of your car and how many years you've had it. It may be the time when you consider replacing it and get a new one. Your old car can still be worth some money and you may be able to recycle it or sell it for scrap and recoup some of the money you need to put a downpayment on a new car.