There's no reason to run your car into the ground. Keep these maintenance tips on your radar to extend the life of your car and save money.
With advances in engine technology, modern vehicles need less service than their older counterparts. These days, cars can make it to 200,000 miles without much issue, but that’s no reason to put your car’s maintenance on the back burner. No way around it — your vehicle needs regular upkeep. Not only can it extend the life of your car, it can also save you time and money by keeping you out of the repair shop.
“Doing basic maintenance can prevent expensive problems,” says Lauren Fix, an automotive expert and author of “Lauren’s Guide to Loving Your Car.” She adds, “The Car Care Council states that if you follow your owner’s manual, follow the service schedule, and change fluid, belts, and hoses, you can save over $1,200 per year in car repair expenses.”
Ensure these easy maintenance tasks stay on your radar, and you’ll enjoy a car that stays in tip-top shape for miles.
Change the Engine Oil
Changing the engine oil and oil filter regularly is the single most important maintenance procedure you can do to help your engine last longer. Check the oil once a month, and make sure it’s topped up to the proper level. You may need to check more often if you have an older car or notice oil leaks. Park the car on level ground to get an accurate reading, and if oil is needed, don’t overfill. If you do have leaks, get them as soon as possible.
Follow the Service Schedule
Every car has a manufacturer’s service schedule detailing how often the car should be serviced and for what type of upkeep. For instance, it may provide a checklist of fluids to change or parts to check every 30,000 or 60,000 miles. To keep your car in top form, it’s important to follow these guidelines. Find them in your owner’s manual or online. Newer cars even flash alerts on your dashboard or info panel when it’s time for service. Don’t ignore them. You know the saying about an ounce of prevention.
Get Under the Hood
Most everything needed to keep your car and engine running smoothly is nestled under the hood. Give the engine a 10-minute once-over every month by checking hoses and belts for wear and looseness, or fraying on the edges of belts. Besides your engine oil, there are various other fluids that need to be checked regularly, such as the radiator reservoir level, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Warm up the engine, and then check the transmission fluid. Maintaining fluids at their proper levels is a great way to avoid costly repairs.
Most likely, you’re familiar with how your car sounds. Listen for any strange or unfamiliar noises, both while idling and when driving. This can often be the first sign that something needs repair. A click in the engine could mean a problem with the valve train or any number of issues. A squeal or grind when you apply the brakes could mean the brake pads or rotors are wearing down.
Keep It Clean
Maintaining the exterior and interior of your car can go a long way toward retaining the car’s value. The elements — hot sun, salt air, dirt, snow, or road salt — can take a toll on your vehicle’s body over time. Wash the car once a week, if possible, and spray the undercarriage. If the water that beads up on the surface is larger than a quarter, then it’s time for a wax job. Clean the interior, including vents, and apply special protectants to the dash and other areas to ward off damage from the sun.
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