Luckily for most of us, you don’t have to be a mechanic to perform basic car maintenance. Auto repairs can be costly, but preventative maintenance will save you headaches–and potentially lots of money–down the road. If driving through the car-wash and filling up with gas is as far as you usually go, read on for some easy tips that will help you address common mistakes and keep your car in top shape.
Mistake #1 – Remaining blissfully unaware
You wouldn’t dive into a new piece of technology without reading the directions first, and you shouldn’t do that for your vehicle, either. Flip through your owner’s manual and find out what the manufacturer suggests when it comes to oil changes, the best gas for your car, and when to replace certain parts. Using the wrong gas or oil could void your entire warranty or cause costly damage you’ll eventually have to repair, so be sure to brush up on the basics of your vehicle’s care.
Mistake #2 – Neglecting your fluids
Don’t be afraid to pop open your hood and get a good look at what you’re working with. You don’t need to change your own coolant, power steering fluid or antifreeze, but you should know how to check the levels. Check your owner’s manual or go online for help. If you’re running low on one or notice a leak, be sure to schedule a service as soon as possible.
Mistake #3 – Waiting for the pros to take charge
Every now and then, give your car an at-home inspection. Set a date once a month on your calendar and stay consistent. Buy an inexpensive air pressure gauge to check your tires; start your car and listen for odd sounds; check for leaks and inspect the tread on your tires. Locate your battery and spark plugs and make sure they’re free of buildup and deposits. These monthly checkups with help you stay ahead of issues with your vehicle before they become major and potentially costly problems.
Mistake #4 – Ignoring a rough ride
Make sure your tires are being rotated and balanced regularly to ensure you’re getting the most out of them. If you’re struggling to keep your car driving in a straight line, take your car in for service. This is usually a quick fix and will make your ride a lot safer.
Mistake #5 – Skipping oil changes or going in too often
Oil changes feel like a hassle (who wants to sit at the dealership?), but they’re necessary. However, you likely don’t need to go in for an oil change every 3,000 miles. Newer, more efficient oils mean fewer oil changes. Many manufactures suggest closer to 8,000 to 10,000 miles between services. If your regular routes include lots of stopping and starting, you may need to go in a bit more often.
Mistake #6 – Putting off quick swaps
You only realize how important your windshield wipers are when they aren’t working correctly. If your wipers leave your windshield streaky and limit your visibility in wet conditions, it’s time to swap them out. Anything that makes driving riskier or unsafe is worth addressing and could benefit you significantly in the future.
Mistake #7 – Paying for things you can do on your own
Some regular maintenance like replacing your cabin air filter and engine air filter are actually DIY jobs. Check your vehicle’s manual or go online to find guides and even video tutorials that will guide you through the process. You’ll save money and feel a sense of accomplishment by performing general upkeep yourself.
Mistake #8 – Waiting until it’s too late
The bottom line: Don’t wait until it’s too late to perform auto repairs and general upkeep. Replacing a worn-out timing belt will run you a few hundred bucks; whereas replacing one that fails could be a couple thousand. Check your manual, read up online, and take your vehicle in for service when necessary. When your car is well maintained, it will run better, have fewer issues and extend the life of your vehicle.
Source: Farm Bureau Financial Services