Maintaining your car is a very important step that every car owner must follow to increase the life of their vehicle and make it look brand new, like it just came from the dealer. Always follow the maintenance schedule for your car, so your car will always perform at its best.
Doing a weekly inspection to help you maintain your car can save you thousands of dollars. You’ll identify areas that need immediate attention and others that you can take care of later. As you replace old or worn parts, your car will likely not break down or cause major issues, saving you thousands of dollars. Here are the top 15 maintenance tips that you need to follow for your car to last longer:
- Check your air filter.
- Inspect fluids and tire pressure regularly
- Check your battery
- Change your spark plugs
- Get your tires rotated and balanced
- Clean your windshields and replace the wipers
- Inspect and replace serpentine belts
- Ensure the working of the cooling system
- Check your brakes
- Keep your car covered
- Drive better
- Exterior engine cleaning
- Carry the automotive tools at all times
- Protect your headlights
- Protect the interior of your car
Preventive maintenance is the best way to start. You can do most of the regularly scheduled maintenance yourself if you want. Ignoring maintenance because it seems like a hassle will cost you. The best way to keep your car and yourself happy is to follow your owner’s manual regularly scheduled maintenance.
1. Check Your Air Filter
Many car problems are due to clogged air filters or loose fittings. The air filter prevents dirt and particles from entering the engine. During combustion, your engine needs air, and a clogged filter may impact performance.
You should get your filters changed every 12 months or after 12000 miles, whichever comes fast. Don’t ignore this maintenance as it could lead to problems in your car engine or car cabin as you also breathe air that is filtered by the internal cabin air filter.
You can replace the filter at your mechanic’s or in the comfort of your garage in 10 minutes. You can save the trip to the mechanic and some money by doing it yourself. Here is how you can do it yourself:
- First, locate your filter, which is situated in the hood of the car. It is in a black rectangular box, which might have metal clips used to keep it closed. You can see it as soon as you pop the hood. Check the owner’s manual for assistance if you don’t find it there.
- After locating it, remove the casing and observe how the air filter fits inside. It is important to note the direction of the filter. Make a note of the directions of the filter and remove it.
- If the filter is mostly clean, you can clean out the debris from your filter by using compressed air. This can improve the life of the filter and help your engine run efficiently. Then place it back in the same way.
- If the filter is dirty, remove it and insert the new one the same way the old one fits in the same direction. You will see that it will sit perfectly in its housing. (Be sure it’s the correct filter type)
- Now close the air filter casing after you are done. Make sure it fits correctly, just like the filter. You’re done.
2. Inspect Fluids and Tire Pressure Regularly
Tire pressure is something that you shouldn’t ignore or delay. Tires are one of the most important components of your car for safety, efficiency, and comfort. Getting in the habit of checking the tires regularly will help you save time and money.
Your tire pressure, wheel balance, and regular tire rotation will help you have a comfortable and safe drive. Your tires will last quite a bit longer, and you can easily add air and check the pressure yourself.
If you’re not in the habit of checking on your car tires, you can start by setting a monthly date on the calendar to check them.
Along with the tires, you can get into the habit of checking car fluids.
All you need to do is open the hood when the engine has cooled down and remove the oil dipstick. Clean it thoroughly and put it back again. Now when you pull it out, you will notice the oil is up to a certain level. Check that it is at the correct level. Also, check the oil color and replace the oil at regular maintenance periods.
While doing this, also check your power steering fluid level, the hoses, and the belts for any signs of wear. After warming up your car, check the transmission fluid level too.
Conduct an inspection of the tires and fluids regularly for the best performance of your car.
3. Check Your Battery
I have had my car battery stop working. Everything seemed fine, but then my car wouldn’t start. We may all be faced with a situation like this, where we are left stranded. It wouldn’t be fun if I were stranded at night with just my cell phone.
To avoid this, I can check my car battery. I can first check the cables and their connection to the terminals. You can check for leakage or any mineral build-up around the cables and terminals. Clean the terminal with a battery cleaning brush if needed, and you can always apply dielectric grease to help them stay corrosion free.
Using a multimeter with the engine off, you can check if the battery is charged fully (about 12.4 to 12.7 volts). When the car is on, you can carefully check the voltage. It should be around 13.7 to 14.7 volts.
If the battery is low, it might be the alternator. You can start the engine and turn on your lights to check this. If the lights are dim or bright as the engine is revved, then the alternator probably is the issue.
4. Change Your Spark Plugs
If you notice that your engine is not working efficiently, then the reason could be the spark plugs. They could wear out and be covered in a buildup if not checked. Your car manual should let you know when to replace them.
If your car is not performing as well as it usually does, you might want to check the spark plugs and spark plug wires if they are old. If you find they are in bad condition, replace them for better performance. Spark plugs usually last for 30,000+ miles; see the owner’s manual for more information.
5. Get Your Tires Rotated and Balanced
This is the easiest trick in the book to prevent the wearing of tires and make them last longer, and the trick is to get them rotated about every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. All tires do not wear at the same amount. So by rotating the front and rear tires, you balance the wear and make them longer wearing.
Ensure that the tires of your car are also aligned. Non-aligned tires can cause problems with the steering. It may even make you lose control of your car and cause an accident.
6. Clean your Windshields and Replace the Wipers
A dirty windshield can prove to be a lot of hassle when you can’t see clearly. If they are not cleaned regularly, they can cause visual impairments and can result in accidents at times.
It is very important for the driver to have a clear view of the road for safe driving. If you don’t clean them, the dirt and particle can accumulate and scratch the windshield when you use the wipers.
If the rainy season is approaching, check your wipers and get them replaced if needed. Using damaged wipers can cause scratches on the glass and obstruct your view, which might lead to the need to replace your entire windshield.
7. Inspect and Replace Serpentine Belts
Thoroughly inspect your serpentine belts and check for wear. If these belts fail, they can cause damage to the engine parts, making a small-priced item that needs to be replaced turn into a huge bill.
If you get regular maintenance, your car dealer service center should let you know when it’s time to replace the belt. It is recommended to get it checked every 60,000 miles, but you should look at the owner’s manual to get the best information for your car. Replacing a belt is usually easy with a few tools.
8. Ensure the Working of the Cooling System
The hoses which carry the engine coolant can get damaged from high-pressure, heat, or from being old. Often if this happens, a leak will occur. In addition, the heater hoses face the same problem as they carry hot coolant to the car heater core under the dashboard.
When you go get your car serviced or to an oil changing shop, they’ll usually check the hoses for you, but you can always ask if you’re not sure if that’s included.
To check them yourself, look for the white/clear coolant reservoir and see if it is at the correct level. If not, you may have a leak, so check for residuesimilar to the coolant’s color. It should be around where the hoses and connections are made or under them. Any cracks in the hoses mean you need to replace that hose. Any loose hose clamps should be tightened or replaced if damaged.
The best way for efficient cooling is for the engine to have enough coolant. Getting hoses checked regularly will prevent leaks that can cause the engine to overheat and create major problems. So inspecting hoses once in a while is a great idea. And replacing them if needed is relatively cheap.
9. Check your Brakes
You may have seen a movie where someone can’t stop their car because their brake line was cut. In real life, we won’t have this scene play out, but if we ignore brake problems, we can find ourselves getting into an accident.
If the brakes fail to work properly, it can be caused by some of the following: the rotors, the brake pads, the brake fluid, and the brake pedal. The most common reason would be the brake pads or a leak in the brake fluid.
It’s a good idea to check your breaks if you notice any issues out of the ordinary. If you want to check the breaks yourself, you’ll need to inspect the brake pads and brake fluid reservoir. This usually requires removing the tires and possibly getting under the car if you suspect a brake fluid leak.
Checking the Brake Fluid
- But there is a very easy way to check your brake fluid; check the level and color of the fluid in the reservoir.
- If the color is dark, then it’s time to change it.
- If the fluid is low, fill to the proper line; if the tank is empty, you probably have a leak that needs to be fixed, and then you’ll need to bleed the brake lines and replace the fluid.
Checking the Brake Pads
- The easiest way to check the brake pads is to take them to a service center.
- As you drive, listen for a screeching sound. Most brakes have a warning indicator, and they make a noise when they are low as you press on the brake pedal.
- If you are unsure or worried, it’s best to get it checked. Your safety and others on the road are worth the time and effort.
10. Keep Your Car Covered
This may seem like a very easy tip, but it has a major impact on maintaining your car. Keeping your car out of the reach of the sunlight, trees, and birds can help your paint and interior remain in good condition. Harmful radiation, weather, and nature can take their toll on your vehicle.
Washing your car regularly and using protectants on plastic and rubber parts is important, but this will only do so much. A car cover is a good investment to keep your car looking its best for years to come. If you have a garage or carport cover, this can help as well.
So cover your car when not in use and keep it in your garage whenever possible.
11. Drive Better
The way you drive reflects the condition of your car. If you are hard on your car (fast take off, quick braking, sharp, quick turns, riding over bumps at high speeds, hard shifting, etc.), then your car will wear faster, and damage can occur. By driving smartly and safely, you not only ensure less wear and tear on your car but also can save on your fuel costs.
So one way to get started today is to take a look at your acceleration and braking habits. Remind yourself that each smooth transition saves money on gas if you have a habit of taking off quickly and applying brakes suddenly.
Driving below the speed limit and avoiding sudden stops will help you stay safer, save money, and help your car last longer.
12. Exterior Engine Cleaning
We have learned the importance of maintaining your engine internally; it is also important to do it for the exterior. Some minor debris in the wrong place can do a lot of damage if not cleaned. For example, when checking your brake fluid, some grease falls into the brake fluid. Damage to the brake system can occur.
Special engine cleaners are available on the market designed specifically for exterior engine cleaning. While cleaning the engine isn’t necessary, it can be helpful for discovering leaks, protecting rubber and plastic hoses, making sure electrical connections are not interrupted, and seeing labels clearly, for the pride of ownership.
13. Carry the Automotive Tools at all Times
A good tip for maintaining your car on the go is to carry some basic tools, so you’ll be ready to face different problems and have tools to work with. Delaying fixing a leak, for example, can potentially cause damage to your engine or other car systems.
Either you will need to call for a tow truck or use your tools to work on the problem. Driving might not be an option.
These helpful tools are thick gloves, heat-resistant waterproof silicone tape, electrical tape, wire cutters, screwdrivers (Phillips head and flat head), tongue and grove pliers, a flashlight, and a knife. A tool kit might come in handy.
A set of tools that is readily available will give you choices that you wouldn’t have otherwise. They come in handy in other situations as well. Deciding where to store them might be the hardest decision you make.
14. Protect your Headlights
Keep an eye on your headlights, as they are your best friends while driving at night. It can be extremely dangerous and risky if you drive without your headlights at night. Replace or repair them before driving at night. It can save your life and prevent accidents.
It should only take about 15 minutes to replace a headlight bulb. Watch a quick video, and you’re ready to go.
Tip: Keep track of turning off your lights at night. Sometimes I forget to turn off the dome light in my truck, which has drained my battery quite a bit. It is especially draining if you forget the lights or parking lights.
15. Protect the Interior of your Car
Many people spend a lot of time in their cars, and it can be like a second home. No wonder a car interior can get messy so easily. But that also means it may start to become uncomfortable to drive in.
Having a clean and nice-looking car will make you feel more comfortable. You will feel better and have pride of ownership. Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore, either. For many, it’s about keeping up a schedule of doing a little at a time.
When I make it a priority, I am always able to fit in the time to clean my car’s interior. I feel nice to be in a nice-looking car and feel good when others can feel comfortable in it.
The best way to maintain the interior is to clean any trash each time quickly you exit the car and then schedule a date and time to vacuum and do other cleaning needed.
Keeping all the necessary gear in one place will help expedite your cleaning and make things easier.
Maintaining your car is good for your wallet, time, and peace of mind. It might seem like a bother at times, but the effort is worth it over time.
You’ll have pride of ownership when you keep a regular schedule of maintenance from a service center or by yourself. You can do a better job than some professionals because you can take your time and not have to rush, as you can do the inspections and repairs of your choosing.
Best of all, you’re improving the condition of your car one step at a time.