6 Easy Tips for Taking Care of Your Car
No one disputes how important our cars are. Our vehicles are our lifeline. They get us where we need to go and help us keep our lives running smoothly. So, as long as they are running reasonably well, it can be easy to forget that our cars need some routine TLC to keep getting the job done. If we wait to take our vehicle into the shop until something is amiss, we usually end up paying in much more significant ways, with both our wallets and our sanity.
So, to make sure your car keeps running smooth and stays out of the repair shop, we’ve put together a list of five car maintenance items that you should be doing pretty regularly. Make these habits consistent, and you’ll end up with the peace of mind you want behind the wheel. Not to
mention, you’ll also save yourself a whole lot of money in the long run.
1. Change the Air Filter
Your engine needs air from the outside to run. The issue is that air isn’t always clean — think dirt, pollen, bird feathers, etc. Enter the air filter in your car, which stops dust and dirt from entering the internal components of your car’s engine. Replacing the filter when it gets grimy can increase fuel efficiency and prolong the life of your engine. It’s recommended you change your air filter once every 12 months or every 12,000 miles.
2. Oil Changes on a Regular Basis
Changing the oil is one of the simplest and most effective ways of keeping your engine running better. There are a whole host of things that can go wrong if you wait too long to change your oil or choose not to change it at all. Your engine seals can rot away and allow oil to seep into unwanted
places, causing your engine to seize — talk about scary. Dirt particles, which cause serious damage to engines, can accumulate in your car’s oil if you wait too long to clean it. And the list goes on. Be proactive and get your car's oil changed regularly. What dictates a regular basis?
It’s different for every vehicle and depends on these factors:
- Make of vehicle
- Age of vehicle
- Type of engine oil used
- Driving habits
Between 5,000 – 7,500 miles is a standard timeline for most cars today, but you should always go by your owner’s manual as oil change intervals vary by engine type and manufacturer as well.
3. Regular Coolant and Transmission Flushes
Regular coolant and transmission flushes will keep your radiator performing at its peak. It will also keep the transmission cooled and running clean.
4. Get Your Tires Rotated
Replacing a set of tires is one of the most expensive things drivers are faced with when it comes to maintaining their vehicles. It makes sense then that you want yours to last as long as possible. Regularly having your tires balanced and rotated will give you the most significant impact on
increasing the life of your wheels. Manufacturers recommend a tire rotation every 7,000 miles or every other time you get your oil changed.
5. Check Your Alignment
If you’ve noticed your car pulling to one side as you drive or you’ve recently been in an accident, it’s a good idea to have your alignment checked. While tire alignments are usually needed more infrequently (every 10,000 miles or so), it’s an essential check for your driving safety. Your mechanic will realign your tires to the angle initially recommended by the manufacturer. This helps reduce tire wear and ensure your vehicle travels straight, possibly avoiding an otherwise dangerous situation.
6. Consider a Vehicle Protection Plan
The unsettling truth is that no matter how well you take care of your car, issues will come up. Another safety guard for saving money on repairs and maintenance is to purchase an ambassador policy or a maintenance plan program. While you can do most of the simple stuff yourself, the bigger vehicle upkeep is more time consuming, and many would rather hand those items off to a licensed professional. With a maintenance plan, you can do just that because it reduces your repair costs by 25-50 percent. And keeps you from dealing with the hassle of being stuck at a shop waiting for your only means of transportation, with their rental car reimbursement. Other benefits include free oil changes and tire rotations, guaranteed roadside assistance, and no mileage or age restrictions.
Keeping your car primed and ready to move takes a combination of good preventive maintenance and proactive planning for when things go wrong. If you do both, you can save yourself a reasonable
amount of time and money.