As an automotive mechanic, I wanted to shed some light on common ways to care for your vehicle. Vehicle maintenance is an important responsibility that is so often ignored. Busy schedules, different priorities, and family obligations can all get in the way, but proper vehicle maintenance can give you more time for these things in the long run. It can also help you avoid a sudden breakdown, which can quickly bring your busy schedule or exciting road trips to a screeching halt with costly repairs.
In this article, I will lay out how to maintain your car with a few simple suggestions. By keeping these minor considerations in mind, you can be car care aware and help keep your vehicle running smoothly all year round and not just for National Car Care Month.
Why is Vehicle Care Important?
Your vehicle is a complex machine with many moving parts that all have to work correctly to stay safe and functional. When cars experience a mechanical breakdown, this can often result in a $3,000 repair bill you’ll be responsible for―especially without an extended auto warranty in place. One issue leads to another, and eventually, you have a significant problem on your hands.
If you experience a breakdown that keeps you off the road, you could invest in a new vehicle to avoid a pricey auto repair bill. However, with prices soaring for used models and newer cars produced less, you could end up paying much more than the cost of an extended warranty.
Vehicle care is also essential from an ecological standpoint. If you don’t know how to maintain your car properly, know is the perfect time to learn as you could be causing damage to the environment and not even know it. Vehicles with leaking oil, inefficient exhaust, and low gas mileage can significantly impact the climate. That’s why I have laid out some simple car care tips on maintaining your car regularly to keep it in the best possible condition.
5 Tips to Care for Your Vehicle
1. Perform Routine Maintenance
Routine maintenance entails oil changes, tire rotations, monitoring fluid levels, checking brake pads, and whatever else required to keep your car running annually. Staying up to date on your car care will help ensure that all the systems are getting proper lubrication, air pressure, and electrical current.
For a better idea of what to check, follow this checklist:
- Check your tire pressure ― Tires lose pressure with regular use, and low pressure can result in damage to the tire, as well as less efficient gas mileage.
- Change the oil and oil filter ― Engine oil is constantly running through your vehicle, so replacing the filter and the fluid itself will keep the engine lubricated.
- Replace the air filter ― Your car’s air filter catches any debris before it gets sucked into the engine, so you want to make sure it is regularly changed out.
- Replace windshield wiper blades ― You should replace windshield wiper blades before each rainy season to ensure that they will be effective when you need them.
These simple checks and procedures can go a long way towards keeping your car safe and running at its peak performance. In addition, certain extended auto warranties also cover a certain amount of maintenance, which can not only put money back in your pocket but make this much easier to do on an annual basis.
2. Check for Leaks That May Have Occurred Over Winter
Your vehicle goes through a lot during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, the cold can have a detrimental effect on many parts of your vehicle, and it’s essential for you to know proper car maintenance when dealing with lower temperatures.
One of the detrimental effects of cold weather is that things tend to expand and contract when exposed to it. For example, when water starts to get towards freezing temperatures, it will begin to expand. Other things, such as rubber hoses and plastic parts contract which can cause seals to break and leaks to occur over the colder months.
When the weather starts to get a little bit warmer, the best thing you can do is check your vehicle for leaks. Always look underneath the car in the morning for any puddles or small collections of drops that may have gathered overnight. You can also look at the hoses in the engine compartment to be sure that they are still tightly connected and aren’t leaking any fluids, such as antifreeze or oil.
3. Spring Clean Your Vehicle’s Trunk
We are all guilty of letting our car get a little messy from time to time. Things get busy, and we don’t always have space in our schedule to clean out the car. However, one of the things you should make sure gets cleaned at least once a year is your vehicle’s trunk.
The trunk is where the spare tire and travel jack are stored and where many of the electrical connections are located. If your trunk is too cluttered, storage and getting to your spare tire can be more difficult.
When spring cleaning your trunk, make sure that you are prepared for any eventuality. For example, check that your spare tire has enough air or if there is any significant corrosion on the rims. You should also be sure that your travel jack is fully functioning and that you have a tire iron as well as a first-aid kit, road flares, a flashlight, and even your owner’s manual. You’ll be happy to have them should an emergency come up.
4. Drive For a Few Minutes Every Week
Cars are meant to be driven, which means sitting in the driveway for extended periods can cause damage in the near future. You may have been sheltering in place, meaning routine maintenance matters now more than ever to ensure you stay on the road longer.
If a car sits for too long, the fluids can start to break down in the lines, and the battery can drain. The tires can also begin to go flat on top of several other issues that you could find yourself dealing with the next time you start the engine. To avoid these problems, drive the car for at least 5 minutes every week.
Periodically driving your car will give it some time to warm up and to let the battery charge. Getting the fluids running through the lines will keep them from sitting stagnant and disintegrating. It’s also a great way to check for any potential problems with your brake system or if any electrical issues may have arisen while the car has been sitting dormant.
5. Handle Repairs Immediately
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind for National Car Care Month is always to address problems as soon as they come up. Any time you notice an issue, get it looked at and corrected right away. It is always best to catch a small problem before it starts to affect the other systems in the vehicle.
If you notice any change in braking or steering, visit an ASE-certified repair shop to get all issues repaired right away. These issues could affect the safety of your vehicle and will almost certainly lead to more expensive repairs if they are not corrected. The same goes for anything electrical such as brake lights or turn signals that suddenly stop working properly. Therefore, it is always best to nip these problems in the bud when they occur.
National Car Care Month Made Easy
Whether you spend this month caring for your vehicle or throughout the year, taking time to perform maintenance can keep you on the road and out of the repair shop. As a mechanic, I stress to all my customers to take care of essential to-do’s, from replacing worn tires to windshield wipers. With Endurance’s newest protection plan, EnduranceAdvantage™, you can save up to $3,500 in maintenance and much more.
Plus, you’ll have access to a diverse and extensive network of ASE-certified repair shops to get all your needs handled by trained technicians. Endurance is there to help on-and-off the road.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Cars Last 300,000 Miles?
It is entirely possible for many modern vehicles to last up to 300,000 miles and beyond. The key to making it to this milestone is knowing how to maintain your car. A properly maintained vehicle has a much better chance of giving you many miles of trouble-free service.
How Often Should a Car be Washed?
You should wash your car every two weeks. While this may seem like more of a vanity issue than a maintenance issue, it is essential. Things like dust and bugs can get into your vehicle’s mechanical workings and cause problems if they are not removed regularly.
What Fluids Need Checking in a Car?
The fluids are the lifeblood of your vehicle. Therefore, regularly checking their levels is a great way to keep your vehicle in good working order. The fluids that need to be routinely checked are:
- Engine Oil
- Transmission Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
Does an Extended Auto Warranty Cover Maintenance?
This depends entirely on your provider. Most factory warranties only cover some maintenance in the first year. However, plans like EnduranceAdvantage cover up to $3,500 in maintenance and much more. From oil changes to tire rotations, you can put money back in your pocket with Endurance’s newest protection plan.