The best way to avoid major car repair services and extend the life of your car is to keep up with essential regular maintenance. Some maintenance items are more important than others but they all play a role in a fully functioning car that won’t give out on you. Keep up with these ten tips and you’ll notice a positive difference in the performance of your car – and you won’t have to worry as much about whether you’ll have to dump a ton of money on a car repair that could’ve been avoided.
Watch Your Driving Habits
This one’s easy and free: Pay attention to how you drive your car. There are a lot of things we may do while driving that we don’t even realize have a negative impact on the car. For starters, don’t change gears from drive to reverse or vice versa while the car is moving. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, this is hard on your car’s transmission and can speed up wear and tear. In addition, it’s good to lay off the accelerator if you tend to have a lead foot. The more you slam on the gas or brakes, the more you wear down your transmission and brakes respectively.
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Keep Your Car Safe While Parked
Especially if you’re going to leave your car parked for a while, there are a couple things you should consider. First, try not to leave your car with less than a quarter tank of gas – and it’s really best to keep it as full as possible. When there’s empty space in the gas tank, condensation can form and freeze in cold temperatures, messing with your fuel system. It’s also best, when possible, to park your car in a protected area so that it’s impacted less by changes in temperature and harsh weather.
Keep Your Car Clean – No Matter the Season
A car wash does a lot more than just make your car look nice. It also cuts down on the wearing down of your car’s paint and other exterior features by washing off any harsh chemicals and also allowing you to see knicks and scratches that need to be touched up to prevent rust. This is especially true during the winter, since salt used on the roads to melt snow and ice can cause corrosion and rust on metal parts on the underside of your car.
Avoid Towing Heavy Loads
While some cars are built to tow heavy loads, every car has its limits and any car towing heavy loads regularly is at higher risk for a transmission repair. Take a look at your owner’s manual for towing recommendations for your car, but also keep in mind that heavy loads are hard on your car’s transmission. The more you tow, the more strain is put on your transmission and the more wear is caused, potentially shortening the life of your transmission.
Take Care of Your Tires
Healthy tires are essential to safe driving. Regularly take a look not only at your tire tread but also your brakes. If you notice uneven tire tread, that can signal you need a suspension repair. If your tires are overworn, you won’t have the traction you need to drive safely, especially in adverse weather. If your brake pads are also overworn, you may not be able to stop your car in time to avoid an accident. Keeping up with all of this routine car maintenance will help keep you safe and prolong the life of your car.
Top Off Your Fluids
Most of your car’s fluids are easy to check, including engine oil, coolant, and washer fluid. Many cars also make it possible to check your transmission fluid. If you notice any of these are low or dirty, it’s time to top them off at the least or, even better, bring your car in to an auto repair shop to have the fluid flushed and replaced. Keeping your washer fluid full ensures you can maintain visibility, no matter the weather outside.
Check & Change Your Engine Oil Regularly
One of the easiest and most important maintenance services you should keep up with is regular oil changes. While you can easily check the level and condition of your engine oil at home, it’s recommended that you have a mechanic do an oil change at least once or twice a year. Many newer cars allow you to go a year in between oil changes, while older cars should have one at least every six months. However, the frequency depends on both your driving habits and the manufacturer’s recommended service interval for your vehicle, which can be found in your owner’s manual.
Get New Filters Regularly
Both your air and oil filters help keep your engine running optimally. When you get an oil change, ask them to also replace or clean your oil filter to help keep the new oil fresher for longer. Likewise, think about having your air filter changed regularly to limit contaminants coming into your engine.
Keep Up with Tune Ups
An often-overlooked maintenance service is the tune up. You may not have to worry about one for several years after buying a new car but getting a tune up can save you a lot of grief. During this service, your mechanic will check out all systems that impact fuel economy, including swapping out your spark plugs if they’re wearing out.
Follow Your Car’s Recommended Maintenance Schedule
Despite all of the above recommendations, the best place to start when it comes to car maintenance is your owner’s manual. Take a look and see what your car’s manufacturer recommends in order to keep your car running well.
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