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Basic Car Maintenance Tips

December 10th, 2013

Your car is like your baby, right? You’ve invested a good chunk of money in purchasing it. It takes you to work, events and on grand, new adventures. You might have even given your car a name because you like it so much. It’s safe to say that you should care for your car – because, well, you depend on it. Naturally, car maintenance tipsyou’re going to want to make sure that your car is in mint condition for as long as possible. The best way to do just that is to maintain it throughout the time that you own it. For many people, car maintenance can be simple. For others, it’s just plain confusing. Luckily, you don’t have to be an auto mechanic to take good care of your car, because there are basic steps that you can take to ensure that your car is in tip-top shape. Check out our basic car maintenance checklist to see some of the things that you should be doing to ensure that your car will be running smoothly for years to come.

Things to Cross Off of Your Car Maintenance Checklist:

1. Look for Tire Wear:

Your car’s tires are the first thing that hit the road every time you go for a drive. They are, essentially, your car’s feet. And, driving with worn tires is like walking around with worn-out shoes.

To properly assess whether or not your car’s tires need to be changed, you should use a tread depth gauge that reads in 32nds of an inch. Once you measure what your tire’s current tread depth is, compare it to the tire’s original/new tread depth. This’ll tell you how much that depth has changed over time. If you do not have a tread depth gauge, you can alternatively use a penny. Place the penny upside down in the grooves of your tires and check to if you can see the president’s head. If you can, it’s time for a new set of wheels.

Generally, tires should be changed at the minimum safe tread depth or every six to ten years. This can be one of the most important forms of car maintenance that you practice.

2. Check and Change Automatic Transmission Fluid and Filter:

For automatic, clutchless cars, transmission fluid serves as a way for a car to prevent friction and ensures that operating temperatures remain at safe levels. If transmission fluid is not changed – roughly every two years or 30,000 miles – as part of a routine car maintenance plan, the heat from your car’s transmission could continue to destroy the fluid’s lubricating abilities. When this happens, the automatic transmission fluid oxidizes, turns brown and will begin to smell like burnt toast.

Even though most car maintenance owner’s manuals don’t warn about this issue, make sure that you definitely check this off of your car maintenance checklist. Doing so could save you an unnecessary – expensive – trip to the auto mechanic.

3.  Make Sure that Your Brakes are in Good Shape:

Having brakes that don’t work is probably one of the scariest situations you can be in. It’s pretty safe to say that no one wants to approach a red light questioning whether or not they’re going to be able to stop their vehicle.

The best way to ensure that your brakes are going to perform best is to check the fluid levels and to keep an eye on brake-pad conditions.  Many disc brakes will include a wear indicator, which is a small piece of metal attached to the break pad that contacts the brake rotor when the pad material has been worn down to a certain point. When the indicator grinds against the rotor, it’ll make a squealing sound.

This sound is a definite warning that you should get in and change your brake pads immediately. Brakes are one of the most important things that you should always check and change when needed – after all, your safety could depend on it. Brakes are generally changed every two years.

4. Treat Your Wipers With Care:

Nothing makes driving more dangerous than not being able to see while you’re on the road. Good windshield wipers are an essential part of car maintenance when it comes to driving through unpredictable weather conditions. You can easily tell when your wipers are worn out because they’ll start making a squeaky sound as they rub against your windshield. Don’t wait until the situation gets to that point, because worn-out wipers could – eventually — cause damage to your windshield.

There are also products that help minimize wiper wear. For example, you could purchase Rain-X, which serves as a water repellent on your windshield. With this product, you’ll be using your wipers a lot less — possibly adding a few more months or years to their lifespan.

5. Change Your Oil Regularly:

car maintenance

Getting your oil changed is a classic car-maintenance tip that most people have heard. Although played out, this tip is, nonetheless, important. Engine oil can get dirty, which could then clog engine parts.

Most people follow the notion that car oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. However, with the evolution of engines and introduction of high-quality lubricants, cars can now go much longer without oil changes. In fact, some cars manufacturers recommend that oil be changed at 5,000 miles, while others go as far as 15,000. The best bet is to double check with your auto manufacturer. Regardless, don’t ever assume that you can just go without changing your oil at all. This will cause permanent damage to your car – and potentially, your wallet.

While every car should be maintained, some can prove to be easier to work with. Learn more about a vast array of vehicles by using our car comparison tool, which will give you the opportunity to read consumer car reviews regarding certain specs, features and drivability.