Having a car is unavoidable for many, and the specter of expensive repairs can be a source of anxiety. Although perfect car maintenance won’t prevent all car problems, staying on top of your maintenance can go a long way toward keeping your vehicle in top shape. Here are some automobile maintenance tips to ensure your car holds up well for years or even decades to come.
Get to Know Your Owner’s Manual
Many car owners neglect one of the most important sources of information about their vehicles: The owner’s manual. These manuals contain model-specific guidance for keeping your vehicle in great condition, and they’re invaluable tools for getting to know the ins and outs of your car. Make sure to peruse your owner’s manual when you first get your car and pull it out if you have any questions along the way.
Keep an Eye on Your Oil
Some of the most basic car care advice is still among the most important. By keeping an eye on your mileage and scheduling oil changes on a regular basis, you can avoid premature engine wear and prevent potentially catastrophic problems down the line. Note that oil change advice has changed over the years. Although shops might advise you to change your oil every 3,000 miles, modern oil formulations and modern engine technology mean recommended intervals are typically much longer. Make sure to check in your owner’s manual to find out how often you should schedule an oil change. In addition, it’s worth looking into synthetic oils, which are often preferable on newer engines and require even fewer oil changes.
Change Your Timing Belts When Recommended
Keeping on top of your car maintenance is important, but the timing belt is perhaps the most important component to consider. Although some engines are designed to withstand a sudden timing belt failure, many can be severely damaged or even destroyed if the timing belt snaps, potentially totaling your vehicle far too early. Your manufacturer’s guidance is based on tested, real-world numbers, so make sure not to push your luck. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even want to learn how to inspect your belt so you can detect signs of premature wear.
Monitor Your Fuel Efficiency
It’s worth building the habit of checking your mileage whenever you fill up at the pump. Doing so helps you develop more efficient driving habits, but it also helps you detect signs of trouble before more severe problems emerge. If your driving habits remain the same, but your mileage drops noticeably, it might be time to schedule an appointment to have your engine inspected. Detecting problems early helps you perform repairs before more damage is done, keeping your engine healthy and avoiding potentially expensive future repairs.
Monitor and Rotate Your Tires
Your tires convert your engine’s output into movement, and it’s critical that they’re in good shape to keep you safe. Make sure to regularly inspect your tires’ tread to ensure they’re delivering engine power efficiently and safely. Note that worn tires can reduce your car’s mileage considerably, so the cost of driving on old tires adds up over time. One of the most neglected elements of vehicle maintenance is tire rotations, which help ensure all of your tires wear down at the same rate. Make tire rotation a part of your ongoing vehicle maintenance.
Washing and Waxing
A common source of sticker shock among vehicle owners is the cost of a new paint job. Although cheap paint jobs are available, they don’t offer the same look as a factory job and will likely begin to fail within a year or two. By regularly washing your car, you can cut back on premature wear. In addition, regular waxing is essential for keeping your paint in top condition, and it’s fairly easy to learn to do on your own.
Modern vehicles last far longer than vehicles from only a few decades ago, but proper maintenance is still required to get the most out of your car. Set a schedule and make sure you’re keeping up to ensure your vehicle lasts long and sells at a good price when you’re ready to move on.