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Keeping your car in top shape can be a bit of work. It takes a lot of time and money to keep up with all the maintenance that goes into taking care of your vehicle. You don’t have to worry about forgetting a safety inspection or neglecting an oil change with annual maintenance, but it’s important not to put off the task for too long, either.
This article will discuss ten tips for keeping your car in top shape.
1. Keep up with your car’s maintenance schedule
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget or put off when you’re busy. By keeping up with your car’s maintenance schedule, you can avoid costly repairs in the future. Schedules vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual.
Some general items that should be checked at least once a year include:
- oil level and change,
- tire pressure and tread depth,
- brakes and brake pads,
- coolant level,
- washer fluid levels,
- headlight alignment (if applicable), and
- system checks such as power steering fluid levels and engine belts/hoses.
If any of these items are in poor condition, it’s best to replace them right away.
2. Change your oil and filter
One of the most important things you can do to keep your car running well is regularly changing the oil and filter. Many people wait until their “check engine” light comes on before they take their vehicle in for service, but this can lead to more extensive – and expensive – repairs down the road.
It’s best to change your oil every 5000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first. Be sure to use high-quality motor oil specifically designed for your make and model of car.
3. Rotate your tires
Tire rotation is an often-overlooked maintenance task that can help increase the lifespan of your vehicle’s tires, saving you money in replacement costs down the line. Rotating also helps with fuel efficiency and ensures even wear on all four tire treads. It is recommended to rotate your car’s tires every 5000 miles or after about six months of use (even if there isn’t noticeable wear). Be sure to consult a reputable mechanic for more information regarding proper tire rotations.
4. Keep your tires properly inflated
Another essential item to check regularly is tire pressure and tread depth. Keeping both your car’s proper tire inflation will help avoid flat spots or “high-and-tight” areas as well as dangerous blowouts, particularly during wet weather conditions. Be sure to adjust if you notice any underinflation issues. Overinflated tires may lead to excessive heat build-up and shorter tire life.
It is also essential to keep an eye on your tread depth, as tires with less than ⅓ of their original tread depth are not safe to drive on. Most states require a minimum tread depth for street legal driving, so it’s best to stay ahead of the game by regularly checking your tires’ depths. You can use a penny to test tread depth – if the tread entirely covers Lincoln’s head, then you’re good to go!
If you find that one or more of your tires need replacing, be sure to replace all four at once for even wear. It’s also important to note that different tires (summer vs. winter) should not be mixed on the same vehicle.
5. Inspect belts and hoses regularly
Belts and hoses provide the necessary power to keep your engine running smoothly. Over time, belts can become frayed or brittle, while rubber hoses can crack and split open. Inspecting these items regularly will help avoid major problems down the line. These problems include getting stuck on a long road trip during winter conditions! Suppose any of the components appear worn or damaged (even if there is no external evidence). In that case, it’s best to replace them immediately before they burst into use – which could lead to serious safety hazards for both yourself and other drivers on the road.
If possible, ensure that all work performed in this area is done by a reputable mechanic specializing in belt/hose replacement procedures. It may be a good idea to have your mechanic inspect these items during your regular oil change or service visit.
6. Get your brakes checked regularly
Just like belts and hoses, brake pads are another critical component of your vehicle’s safety system that provides the necessary stopping power when required. Over time, however, these parts can wear down or become damaged – especially if you frequently drive on rough roads or use your breaks heavily throughout the day (e.g., long commutes).
When inspecting for signs of damage/wear, be sure to check both inside and outside surfaces of each tire and look out for any noticeable draw or drag while applying the brake pedal during normal driving conditions. It is also good to ask about special services such as “rotors resurfacing,” which can help extend pad life by removing built-up surface particles from the rotor.
If you find that your brakes need to be replaced, it’s always best to replace all pads and shoes at the same time for even wear – just like with tires. Brake pad replacement may need to occur every 20,000-30,000 miles, depending on how often you drive. Again, it is essential to consult a reputable mechanic when making these decisions.
7. Check your lights and indicator bulbs
Like any other part of your vehicle, light bulbs can burn out or stop working over time. Suppose you find that the turn signals (indicator) on one side are not lighting up adequately when activated. In that case, it’s essential to check them immediately to avoid possible safety concerns while driving in dark conditions with reduced visibility. The same goes for headlights – if they need replacing, be sure to have both replaced at once for even wear. Always consult a reputable mechanic about these types of repairs since different vehicles require different type(s) of bulb replacement procedures, which should only be done by experienced technicians who know what they’re doing!
8. Clean engine compartment monthly with a vacuum cleaner
Keeping your engine compartment clean is one of the best ways to reduce the chances that it will overheat when required. If you regularly remove any build-up or debris around vents, fans, and other components within this area, then there’s the less likely chance for these parts to be unable to do their job when needed most – which can save lots of time and money later on! Regular vacuuming in this area should only take a few minutes, so don’t put off doing it until next month.
If possible, try not to use water (or anything else) while rinsing dirt away from under your car; instead, opt for compressed air if available/applicable. It helps reduce rust & corrosion through better protection against moisture.
9. Have your battery checked or tested regularly
Just like with most other vehicle components, the average car battery has a lifespan of about five years (or so). If you begin to experience problems starting your car, or if the battery seems to be losing power more quickly than usual, it’s essential to have it tested as soon as possible. Many mechanics offer free battery testing services, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of this!
If a new battery is needed, try to purchase one from a reputable dealer and always follow the specific installation instructions provided by the manufacturer. Failing to do so can lead to shortened battery life and other related issues down the road.
10. Have your car’s emission system checked regularly
If you fail an emissions test, it may be time for some annual maintenance to keep your vehicle operating at peak performance levels while adhering to state/local environmental regulations (if applicable where you live). A mechanic can help inspect various aspects of the engine, including filters and hoses, which should only take about an hour or so, depending on how complicated things are. If any repairs need doing, they will let you know – otherwise, confirm that everything is in good condition. Be sure to ask them if this type of service is included in their yearly inspection package as well!
Keeping your car in top shape is vital for many reasons, including safety, environmental concerns, and your vehicle’s overall look/feel. You can do certain things every month to help prolong the life of various components within this machine. However, it’s always best to consult with an experienced mechanic when making decisions about parts replacement, annual maintenance, and the like. By following these simple tips, you’ll be sure to keep your car in good condition for years to come!