After sinking nearly $600 into new front and rear brakes and four brand new tires, I thought that it might be in my best interest to learn a little something about car maintenance. As a woman, I haven’t been inclined to keep up with my automobile like I should. To be quite honest, other than filling the tank, I don’t know a thing about how it runs. After some careful research, this is what I found out. Just like preventative medicine, car maintenance keeps everything running in tip top shape. Regular tune-ups, oil changes, and car washes cost next to nothing when they’re spread out over time. They are not cheap, however, when paid for all at once, or if neglect causes a major problem.
Here are some tips to help you keep your car out of the shop and in good working order:
- Change your oil regularly. You should also check it at least once a month. You can do this yourself by reading the marker lines on the dipstick. You want it to be between the marker lines. More importantly, if the oil looks dirty or black, it is time to have it changed. If you have a newer car, changing the oil every 3,000 miles may not be necessary. Check your manufacturer’s manual for more. More frequent oil changes won’t hurt, but the cost will add up.
- Keep your tires properly inflated. Use a tire gauge to measure the amount of air pressure that you have in each of your tires every two weeks. If in doubt, consult your owner’s manual to learn the correct pressure. You do not want overinflate or underinflate your tires as that can be dangerous and cost you in poor gas mileage.
- Check your transmission fluids and coolant. You’ll want to top these off from time to time. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can have it done by a mechanic for very little expense. Without these vital fluids, your car can have big issues and cost you more money than you can imagine.
- Invest in Roadside Assistance. If your automobile insurance carrier does not provide this type of coverage, you can opt to get AAA. For a flat fee, you are provided a certain amount of services within a year. This can be towing assistance or having someone bring you a can of gas when you’ve run out.
- Report any problems you have the minute you take notice of them. Do not take a chance and drive when something is clearly wrong with your vehicle. In addition to putting your safety in jeopardy, it can do enormous damage to your automobile. Better to be safe than sorry in a situation like this and have somebody look at it as soon as you think something might be wrong.
Repairs can’t be avoided entirely, but you can take matters into your own hand by performing routine maintenance to ensure that your vehicle is operating the way that it was meant to. Take a few moments today to make sure that your tires are aired up properly and that all of your fluids are filled to the line. Small steps like these can help you keep your car on the road and out of the shop which is ideal.
Another thing to do is to drive the car regularly. One of the worse things for a car is to just sit there. The engine needs to run regularly in order to run all the fluids through the filters, otherwise the gunk ends up floating to the bottom. Also, the alternator and battery need to get revved up. Because I don't drive a lot, my mechanic told me to drive my car at highway speed (65 mph) for 20 continuous minutes every two weeks. He said that'd be be enough to keep the engine running ok. The nice thing about this is I now have a legitimate excuse to go joy riding ;)