Last updated on August 11, 2019
Car maintenance is crucial for keeping your car running smoothly and maximizing its lifespan. As such, every car owner should have a basic maintenance checklist to check the condition of their vehicle and prevent problems before they occur. Fortunately, many car maintenance jobs are DIY-friendly, even for new car owners. From checking car fluids down to cleaning your car, here’s a list of things you should know about how to maintain your car.
Read the Manufacturer’s Manual
Your car comes with a manufacturer’s manual that tells you every detail you need to know about your vehicle, from how often you need to change the engine oil and how much pressure is recommended the tires to information about the car warranty and the service schedule.
Different car models have different requirements to care for them. Most of the information you need to take care of your vehicle will be in the manufacturer’s manual, so be sure to read it familiarize the details inside before you do any maintenance work.
Keep Your Car Clean
A clean car is more comfortable to drive and ride in. Plus, keeping your car clean can protect it from damage. Dirt and grime can ruin the exterior and interior of your car. Contaminants can cause minuscule scratches and dull your car’s paint. When left unattended for a long time, they can cause rust and significant damage to your vehicle.
When cleaning your car, make sure to park it under cover. Heat combined with oxygen causes oxidation which ruins your car’s exterior. Use proper products too. Many people believe it’s okay to use regular dishwashing soap to rinse their cars, but dishwashing soap strips away the protective wax or coating on your car, leaving it vulnerable to damage.
Protect the interior of your car by using proper covering. Use a floormat to prevent dirt and grime from directly staining the car floor. If you’re traveling with a pet, use a waterproof and stain-proof car seat cover to protect the back seat from the inevitable mess.
If you’re driving a car with an open back, like a Chevy S10, use a tonneau cover to keep the rain and dirt out of the back and the things you store in there. When it comes to car maintenance, preventing mess (and problems) is as important as cleaning it up.
Check the Fluids
Aside from gas, other kinds of car fluid—including engine oil, transmission fluid, radiator coolant, and brake fluid—fuel your vehicle and keep it running smoothly. Although the manufacturer’s manual specifies how often you need to change your car fluids, it’s still recommended to learn how to check them yourself since certain circumstances might make it necessary to replace your car’s fluids sooner or more often.
For example, the engine oil should be checked every time you refuel with gas or at least once a month with modern cars. You can use an oil dipstick to know if you need to add more oil or to change it completely.
Inspect the Tires Periodically
Maximize the lifespan of your tires by making sure they are correctly inflated and fitted. Check the manufacturer’s manual for the recommended pressure for your tires.
Loose or deflated tires aren’t just bad for your vehicle; they also put your safety at risk while driving. If you’re struggling to steer your car straight or if your vehicle is pulling in a particular direction, it’s likely that your tires need to be rotated and balanced immediately.
Replace the Windshield Wipers
Driving requires high visibility. As such, you need clean windshields to have a perfect view of what’s in front of you while driving. Your windshield wipers help with that. It’s absolutely necessary to have working wipers. It may seem like a minor thing, but having functioning wipers can be a lifesaver, especially when you’re driving on lousy weather.
Depending on how you use your car, it’s safe to change the wipers at least once a year. But if you notice that it’s no longer working as well as before, there’s no reason to wait for a year to change them.
Keep Your Car’s Regular Maintenance Schedule
If you read the manufacturer’s manual (which you should have), then you should know your vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule with the service mechanic. Don’t skip on these appointments even if you don’t notice anything wrong in your car. Sometimes, a trained eye is needed to spot problems that average car owners can’t. Professional mechanics also know what to look for to know if there’s something wrong. And most importantly, they have the training, experience, and tools to handle these problems in the right way. By keeping your regular maintenance schedule, you can prevent issues from arising in the future and even save your car.
Car owners are responsible for taking care of their vehicles, and regular maintenance is one way to do that. Maintenance not only extends the lifespan of your car and keep it running well, but it also lessens your risk of getting into vehicular accidents or mishaps.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a professional mechanic to do basic maintenance. Familiarizing the manufacturer’s manual, checking the car fluids, inspecting the tires, keeping the car clean, changing the windshield wipers, and keeping your regular service schedule are within every car owner’s capability to learn as long as they are willing.