10 Vehicle Maintenance Tips You Need to Know
Owning a car can be a lot of hard work – a lot of hidden hard work that most people don’t even know about until they sign on the dotted line and take ownership of a new car.
You aren’t only going to be responsible for your monthly car payment, your insurance payment, and the gasoline that you put into your vehicle every week or so. You’re also going to be on the hook for maintenance costs, repairs, and a whole host of other little purchases here and there that can really start to add up.
If you want to make sure that you are cutting down on costs as much as possible, there are at least a handful of different things that you can do. You can start using lower grade gasoline, cut back on unnecessary insurance benefits, and a number of other costs depending upon your specific situation – but you can also start to be smarter about your vehicle maintenance so that you avoid major headaches and hassles later down the line.
And that’s exactly why we have put together this quick guide.
Keeping your car looking and running like brand-new is nowhere near as simple or as straightforward as it probably should be.
Sure, there are some people out there that just pump gas into their cars, check the oil once in a blue moon, and maybe (just maybe) run their car through the car wash every couple of months – but those vehicles never last as long as they could have if they were properly maintained.
But thankfully, with the 10 tips and tricks included below, you’ll never have to worry about those issues. By focusing on these critical elements, you are going to be dramatically improving the life span of your vehicle – allowing you to quite literally drive it until the wheels fall off, really getting the most out of your investment.
Ready to dive right in? Let’s get started!
Check (and change) Your Oil and Your filters Every 3000 to 5000 Miles
Depending almost entirely upon the type of vehicle that you have, you’re either going to be able to get 3000 or so miles out of each and every oil change all the way up to about 5000 miles or so – but that’s really the “upper limit” of where you will want to push things.
Think of oil as the lifeblood of your engine. It allows your engine to run smooth and true, but because it works so hard to shuttle debris and other “bad nasties” away from your mechanical components, it has a tendency to get filled with gummy substances that will bog your engine down and destroy it from the inside out.
Change the oil (and your oil filters) every few thousand miles, and you’ll never have to worry about that!
Flush Your Fluids at Least Once or Twice a Year
The second thing that you’ll want to do (aside from changing your motor oil 3 to 4 times annually) is to flush out all of your fluids at least once or twice a year.
Obviously, if your vehicle is running a little bit hot, you’re probably going to be keeping an eye on your fluid levels anyways (maybe even topping them off on a regular basis), but even if your vehicle isn’t having any issues whatsoever you’ll still want to flush the system at least once or twice a year to make sure that everything is in tiptop condition.
Give Your Transmission a Little Bit of Love
One of the most important systems in your vehicle, but also one of the most frequently ignored components, you’re going to want to make sure that you check on your transmission once or twice a year as well. Think about changing out transmission and differential oils, making sure that your gears are shifting smoothly, and making a clutch upgrade if you are running a manual transmission.
All it takes is popping your car up on jack stands and having a look at everything from below, or listening to (or feeling) how your vehicle shifts up and down throughout the gears. If you’re dealing with any grinding or slippage, something needs to be addressed.
Clean Your Car Inside and Out
Though you don’t have to completely detail your car on a regular basis (even if that might not be a terrible idea if you have the budget), you’ll want to wash and vacuum the inside and outside of your vehicle every chance you get.
Not only will this help your car to look better than brand-new all the time, but it will also protect the finishes inside and outside of your car – boosting its value when it comes time to trade it in or resell it.
Throw on Some Wax
Most people are under the impression that applying wax to a vehicle is just to bring out a little bit of extra shine and shimmer as far as the finish is concerned, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Sure, a good wax job is going to make your car look incredible in the sunlight (as well as when headlights are bouncing off of your vehicle), but it has a major role to play in vehicle maintenance as well. A high quality wax job is going to protect your paint and finish from damage and decay – again boosting your resale value later down the line.
Grease Everything that Moves
There are two things that are incredibly destructive to automobile parts, and they are friction and heat.
Both of these issues can be avoided (for the most part) by greasing all of the moving parts on your vehicle, helping to make sure that everything is well lubricated so that it enjoys smooth operation and heat transfer properties that won’t cause you any surprise problems when you least expect it.
Give your Drivetrain a Once Over Every Couple of Months
All of the major components in your drivetrain should be inspected on a semi regular basis.
Every couple of months, you’ll want to throw a floor jack underneath your vehicle, lift it up just enough to slide a crawler under, and make sure that everything is exactly as it should be. It’s not a bad idea to run a car diagnostic tool on your vehicle’s computer at the same time, just really making sure that everything is exactly as it needs to be.
Condition Your Battery
If you have a vehicle that is not a daily driver, or one that just doesn’t get a lot of road time during the winter, you’re going to want to think about investing in a car battery charger and conditioner.
This tool is going to allow you to make sure that you never have to worry about dead batteries if you haven’t driven a vehicle in a while, which means you won’t have to haul out a portable power pack or a battery tester and some jumper cables to get your ride fired up when you need to take it into town.
Conditioning your battery with these kinds of tools will also help to extend the life of your battery – cutting costs at the exact same time!
How are Your Brakes Looking?
The brakes on your vehicle are the most important safety feature of all, and you need to be 100% positive that they are in the best shape.
Inspect your brakes at least once a month (and certainly no longer than once every two months), making sure that your pads, rotors, and calipers are all in picture perfect condition and do not need to be replaced.
Also inspect your brake fluid, your emergency brake lines, and anything else that will impact your ability to stop on a dime – and make the necessary repairs or upgrades before you absolutely need them.
Take Her in for a Tuneup
Lastly, you’ll want to think about taking your car in for a tuneup at least once or twice a year.
Some people would say that this is a little bit on the unnecessary side of the fence, but honestly, it’s not going to cost you that much to have everything fine to and the benefits (especially as far as the longevity of your vehicle is concerned) definitely outweigh the short-term investment you’ll be asked to spend.
At the end of the day, if you harness these 10 tips and tricks, you’ll be a much better automobile owner – and will be able to put a lot of extra money in your pocket over the lifetime of owning that particular car.