Too few vehicle owners give basic car maintenance the attention that it deserves. Routine preventative maintenance can help your car perform better, last longer, and retain its value. Not to mention, all of those things will help you save money.
Basic car maintenance is necessary, so don’t think you'll be the special case that can avoid it. Think of it like your regular checkups at the doctor's office — they allow experts to catch issues before they turn into bigger problems.
According to the Car Care Council, the typical car these days should deliver at least 200,000 miles of performance if you are following a proactive maintenance plan. Here are a few tips to carry out the necessary basic car maintenance.
Read Your Owner's Manual
One thing the Car Care Council always recommends is following a service schedule. The brilliant thing is that every car comes with one. Every vehicle has a maintenance schedule in the owner's manual. It will give you recommendations for when you should perform all needed services. For example, it will tell you how many miles you can typically go between oil changes.
Here are some of the other components of your vehicle that will need routine service:
- Lots of fluids, including: engine oil, power steering, transmission, brake, antifreeze/coolant, and windshield washer solvent
- Cabin and engine air filters
- Brake pads, linings, rotors, and drums
- Tires - rotations, balancing, and replacement
- Hoses and belts, such as the timing and serpentine
- Windshield wipers
- Spark plugs
A good tip is to make some sort of list or chart. This will help you map out and remember when services are needed. Following the recommended service schedule in your owner's manual is one of the best ways to help your car last longer.
Do Your Own Inspecting
You should also be constantly evaluating and inspecting your vehicle. After all, surely nobody spends as much time around your car as you do.
Here is a small list of certain things you can do and should be looking for: abnormal noises inside and out, that the lights are functioning, proper tire pressure, using the "penny test" to check tire tread, checking fluid levels using the dipsticks or gauges.
There are plenty of services, such as changing the lights or the windshield wipers, that are easy to perform on your own. Plus a DIY project will almost certainly be cheaper than taking it into a mechanic.
If you ever suspect there to be a problem, it's better to address it quickly. Even minor problems can lead to bigger issues that do considerable harm to your car. This, of course, can lead to larger, more complicated, and more expensive repairs down the line.
It may be easy to ignore issues that don’t seem to be causing immediate damage, but doing that is a gamble that's simply not worth making. It's safer to take care of it immediately and put the problem to bed.
The Bottom Line
Basic car maintenance can help your car last longer, perform better and retain its resale value. So, make sure to leave some room in your budget for routine maintenance. Spending a little money now can help you avoid costly repairs later on.
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