Have a new car and wondering how to keep it in tip-top shape? Or, maybe you’ve got an oldie and you’re wondering how you can keep it on the road just a little bit longer.
Today’s cars are built better than they were 20-30 years ago. They can easily last 12 years or 200,000 miles – if they’re well taken care of.
With proper maintenance and routine inspections, you can save money and increase the longevity of your car. Keep reading to learn more about why it’s important, how it saves you money, and what steps you can take to keep your car on the road longer.
Why Is Vehicle Maintenance So Important?
First and foremost, routine maintenance keeps you safe. Having a tire blow out or a belt break during rush hour on a crowded freeway could be dangerous – for you and for other drivers. You also wouldn’t want to be stranded in the middle of the night in an empty parking ramp with a car that won’t start.
Second, it will save you money. A well-maintained car runs more efficiently. This saves you on gas and normal wear-and-tear on your car.
With a regular maintenance routine, you can identify problems early and fix them before they become a bigger problem. Small issues like cracks and leaks will lead to major repairs if they’re left untended.
Not only will this extend the life of your car, but It also helps you avoid costly repairs. Plus, many manufacturer warranties won’t cover a car that hasn’t followed the recommended scheduled maintenance.
And, when it comes time to sell or trade-in your car, you’ll get more for a car that’s been well-maintained than one that wasn’t.
Automotive Maintenance and Routine Inspections
Your owner’s manual includes a maintenance schedule and information on all of the parts and fluids that should be checked. Here are some of the things to look at in your car care routine:
Oil is absolutely essential to keeping your car in tip-top condition. Changing your oil regularly is one of the most important preventative maintenance habits you can have. Most car manufacturers suggest changing your oil every 3,000-5,000 miles.
Many systems in your car need fluids to work properly, including brakes, transmission, power steering, coolant, and windshield wipers. If their levels drop, they will experience more friction and won’t run as smoothly.
Keeping your tires rotated and filled with the proper air pressure will ensure they wear equally and last longer. You’ll have better traction and handling at higher speeds. Having the correct air pressure increases your gas mileage and decreases the risk of an expensive blowout.
Having a broken or burnt-out bulb is both dangerous and costly. If other drivers can’t see you at night puts you at risk for being in an accident or getting a ticket. Regularly check your high and low beams to make sure they’re working correctly, aren’t cracked, and don’t have condensation in the lighting case. Make sure your taillights, brake lights, and turn signals are all working.
Windshield and Wipers
Check your windshield and back windows to make sure there aren’t any cracks or deep scratches. A damaged or worn-out wiper blade means reduced visibility during a storm so be sure to test them regularly.
Listen for squeaks and squeals from your brakes when you use them. Pay attention to any shuddering or vibrating when you step on the brake pedal. If your brake pads are less than 1/8” think they need to be replaced.
Belts and Hoses
Check your belts and hoses to make sure they’re in good condition and don’t need to be replaced. A broken timing belt or serpentine belt causes extensive damage to your car systems that will be very expensive to repair. Check them for cracking, fraying, and loose tension, and replace them before that happens.
Spark plugs are susceptible to buildup and can affect your engine’s efficiency and overall performance. If your car struggles to accelerate or you hear a ‘popping’ misfire sound when you start your engine you may want to check the spark plugs. They should be immediately replaced if they are worn or damaged.
Replacing filters is an easy, inexpensive step to keep your car running smoothly and efficiently. The air filter keeps debris out of our engine, oil and fuel filters trap sediment, increasing your fuel efficiency.
Other Steps You Can Take
There are a few other steps you can take to maximize your car maintenance routine. These all help keep your car working smoothly and will save you money in the long run.
Protect your car from weather elements by parking it in a garage or under a cover whenever possible. Snow, rain, gusts of debris, and even prolonged heat and sun exposure can damage your paint job.
Getting your car washed regularly, especially in the winter also helps protect your car’s exterior. The salt and sand used on the roads in harsh weather can damage your paint and cause your car to rust.
And don’t forget the inside of your car. Stains and smells stay on upholstery and will affect the resell value down the road.
Spend a little more on the parts and products you put into your car. Cheap parts and low-quality engine oil can actually damage your car and lead to expensive repair bills.
Believe it or not, your driving technique has a big impact on your vehicle. Slamming on your brakes causes excessive wear and tear to your brake pads and tires. Hitting potholes and bumps in the road will put your tires out of alignment.
Even what appears to be the most minor of fender benders can cause unseen damage that will be costly if not attended to properly. Don’t be afraid to ask your mechanic to inspect your car or talk to a lawyer after you’ve had any kind of accident. They can answer your most common questions and make sure your car is fixed properly if there’s been any damage.
The Payoff of Regular Maintenance
Adhering to routine inspections on your car could save you thousands of dollars in the long run. You could potentially avoid serious and expensive emergency repairs. And your car will last longer!
Check out our site for more articles on how-to information to keep your car in the best shape possible.