What if we told you basic vehicle maintenance can help you save a ton of money in the long run AND doesn’t require you to have an in-depth knowledge of automotive mechanics or even be handy with a set of tools?
Believe it or not, the simplest car care tasks can be handled by anyone in their driveway or garage. A lot of vehicle owners pay little attention to the needs of their vehicles until a problem arises.
Sure, we’ll bring them into our auto repair shop once or twice a year for a regularly scheduled oil change and other maintenance. However, there’s more that drivers can do to ensure their vehicles look and run their best.
Performing your own regular automotive check-ups and light maintenance when needed will go a long way towards:
- Ensuring your vehicles operate more safely
- Increasing the shelf life of your car
- Lowering your carbon footprint
- Saving money on car repair costs
- Making your vehicle look better
We’ve rounded up car care and maintenance tips from industry motor experts so you can focus on preserving your car for a long long time.
1. Inspect Your Battery
Your vehicle isn’t going anywhere if its battery fails, so take the time for a quick visual inspection and an occasional cleaning of this vital car component.
Experts recommend checking your battery terminals for any signs of dry white battery acid, at least once a year. If there is any, ensure you remove the cables from your battery remembering to remove the negative cable first.
Use a wire brush and corrosion removal fluid (easily available at any automotive supplies retailer) to clean up the corrosive material from the battery’s terminals. You can also use a mixture of baking soda and water if you’re into DIY.
Rinse the area with some water, dry it with a rag, and reconnect the battery cables (attach the positive cable first). Please note: if you’ve never done this before, we recommend taking your vehicle to an expert.
2. Check your Tire Pressure
Although most modern vehicles come with a tire pressure monitoring system, it doesn’t hurt to periodically check your tire pressure manually. A good tire pressure gauge should be considered an essential tool for any driver, as is a portable tire inflator/mini air compressor.
Driving on tires that are not adequately inflated can:
- lower your fuel economy
- damage your tires and cause them to eventually blow out due to overheating
- limit your car’s ability to handle itself on various road conditions
On the other hand, overinflating your tires can cause problems as well. Make sure to fill your tires to the pressure recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer and not the psi level indicated on the actual tires.
3. Keep Your Car Dust-free Inside And Out
Keeping your car away from direct sunlight for long periods of time, trees, and birds can help your car’s paint and interior remain in good condition. Extreme weather, harmful radiation, and nature can take a toll on your vehicle over time.
You might wash your car regularly and use a protectant on plastic and rubber parts but your car’s cover is important too. It will keep your car looking its best for years to come so ensure you keep your car covered when not in use and if possible in your garage or under shade.
Additionally, it is important to protect the interiors of your vehicle, and keeping it dust-free with high-quality floor mats can help keep your vehicle looking brand new. Car floor mats like those from F1Mats that are made to withstand heat, water, snow, dust, and extreme weather conditions can really give a facelift to your car’s interiors while also protecting your car’s original carpeting.
4. Test Your Brake Lights
Another important safety tip that motor experts reiterate is checking your brake lights. You can either get someone to help you out with this, as we’d recommend, or you can carefully back up to a wall/garage door/window and check in your rear-view mirror if your lights work. Brake lights are there to warn other drivers that you’re slowing down. If they’re not working, it can most definitely become a safety hazard since vehicles following you can rear-end you.
5. Check Engine Coolant Level
While there’s oil in your engine to help reduce the friction between moving parts and prevent it from getting too heated too fast, your engine will also need a system that will help it get rid of this generated heat. This is where your vehicle radiator comes in, which essentially works on engine coolant. If the coolant in the reservoir is running low or if the reservoir is empty, heat from the engine won’t be dissipated into the environment. This can lead to your car’s engine overheating.
Before you start backing out of your driveway, you need to check your engine coolant levels as a part of your car maintenance checklist. Today, most cars possess coolant reservoirs that are somehow translucent and have appropriate level markings on the panel. Without even opening the lid of the reservoir, you should be able to visually inspect whether it’s running low or not. Your car manual will help you locate the engine coolant reservoir in your car.
6. Wax Your Vehicle
Washing your vehicle on a regular basis helps preserve its looks and its exteriors. However, adding waxing as an additional car care tip to your maintenance routine will further enhance it and help it stay looking fresh for longer.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to wax your car every week or even every month for that matter. Waxing can be done a lot less frequently than washing – just two or three times a year is more than enough to keep your car in perfect condition. In fact, more expensive synthetic waxes only need to be used once a year.
Along with maintaining the exterior shine of your vehicle, waxing also protects your car’s clear coat and paint from dust, rain, sand, snow, and other nasty elements.
The easiest way to determine if your vehicle needs a coat of wax is to simply pour some water on the vehicle. If the water beads up, your car doesn’t need to be waxed.
7. Protect Your Headlights
Car experts recommend turning on your headlights and turn signals once a month when you park in front of a flat surface to check if both headlights are working properly and are well-positioned. This will also help you visually inspect turn signals by walking around your car and checking to see if your parking lights are working fine.
8. Change Your Spark Plugs
Spark plugs could affect the efficiency of your car’s engine. They’re responsible for igniting the gas and air mixture that ultimately powers your vehicle. So when your spark plugs don’t function properly, it causes your vehicle’s engine to lose power and it won’t function at its optimal capacity. Car experts recommend getting your spark plugs checked professionally and replacing them if they’re faulty.
9. Take It to the Experts
Although there are some things that you can fix in your car by yourself, there are times when your car needs to be looked at through a professional lens. Periodically, it is best to take your car to an authorized car service provider. It’s also a good practice to save your receipts from repair services so that when you sell your vehicle, these receipts can increase the value of your car to potential buyers and also give them an overview of the services your car has endured.
So as you can see car maintenance doesn’t need to be difficult. Your car just needs to be taken care of the right way at regular intervals so that its shelf life gets extended. Moreover, you can also get a higher resale value for it if it’s preserved well. These car care tips involving visual inspections and light hands-on maintenance will keep your vehicle running smoothly.
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