Most drivers want their car to last as long as possible. To keep your car reliable and safe as the miles add up, check and change the fluids, keep your tires filled, wash it regularly, and never delay repairs.
From $6 cups of coffee to $15 movie tickets, it seems like everything is expensive these days. Cars are no exception—that’s why it’s so important to take care of your car if you want to make it last. There are a few simple things you can do to keep your car reliable and safe for many miles to come.
Change your oil
You've probably had people pestering you to stay on top of oil changes since you got your driver's license. Oil lubricates and cools the tightly-packed parts inside your car’s engine. Forgoing regular oil and filter changes leads to metal-eating sludge, reduced efficiency, and eventual engine failure. Changing your oil every 3,000 miles (or per the manufacturer’s recommendation) is cheap insurance against engine damage.
Keep up on fluid changes
Engine oil isn’t the only fluid that needs attention. Other fluids that require periodic replacement include transmission fluid, radiator coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Drivers of four- or all-wheel drive vehicles need to be mindful of differential fluid and transfer case fluid too. It’s imperative that you check your fluid levels and conditions between services. Keep an eye on your fluids to stay aware of problems, such as leaks, that could cause major damage if not remedied. It’s a good idea to check your fluids every couple of weeks.
Swap your filters
Filters stop debris from entering your engine. Air filters clean out dirt and dust in the air, while fuel and oil filters trap abrasive sediments. Your owner's manual has guidelines on when filters need to be replaced, but it's not always a set schedule. A new oil filter is usually installed at every oil change, but when your air filter needs to be changed depends on the environment where you drive your car.
Inspect your tires
Your tires are the direct connection between your vehicle and the road. As such, it’s important to check the air pressure and condition of your tires on a regular basis. It's a guaranteed way to improve your car's fuel efficiency and safety. Maintaining your tires also helps them last longer, and let’s face it, no one likes buying new tires.
Keep your car clean
Keeping your car clean both inside and out will help it look good and retain a higher resale value. Washing your car in winter is especially important so road salt doesn't cause rust that eats holes in the metal. Plus, a stinky car can undo any effort to make a good first impression when you're picking up a date.
Stay on top of repairs
Putting off repairs can result in further damage to your vehicle (and wallet). For example, driving around with a failing water pump can result in overheating and catastrophic engine damage. Ignoring squealing brakes will only reduce your braking power. So don’t just turn up the radio when you hear your vehicle making a strange noise, or turn a blind eye to the Check Engine Light. Get it fixed right away to avoid a more costly repair.
Store your vehicle in the garage if possible
If your garage is crammed full of old stuff, maybe it's time for a yard sale – making room for your car is a much better use of space. Keeping your car inside protects it from the elements, flora, and fauna that can damage its paint. It also prevents it from getting covered in snow and ice on those chilly winter mornings.
Read your owner’s manual
Most drivers leave their owner’s manual buried under a pile of napkins and receipts in the glove box. They forget that the manual has tons of important information inside, such as the recommended maintenance schedule and how to use important functions. If there's ever a question about how something works on your car or when to change fluids or filters, the first place to look is the owner's manual.
How you drive matters
Driving like a maniac not only makes you look like a jerk, but it’s bad for your car, too. Jackrabbit acceleration and braking takes a toll on your entire car by increasing the stress and strain on components, which wears them out faster. Take your time. After all, they say it’s about the journey, not the destination.
If you're planning on driving your car until the wheels literally roll off, these tips will help you do it. After all, you can’t just put gas in your car and expect it to last forever – you need to keep it maintained if you want it to be safe and reliable.
Mia Bevacqua works at YourMechanic.com. Have your own question about oil changes or anything else auto related? You can ask one of their highly trained technicians and get an answer quickly, usually within 24 hours.