Every vehicle owner should know basic car maintenance to keep vehicles looking and performing great for as long as possible. April is Car Care Month, so take a moment to read through the following simple car care tips and devote some energy to making sure your vehicle is performing at its best this month.
31 Basic Car Care Tips For Every Driver
Too many drivers know how to drive but do not know how to properly care for their vehicles. The following list of basic tips are a great starting point for even novice drivers who want to keep their vehicles performing at their best for as long as possible. Consider these tips and develop a personalized checklist for your vehicle’s maintenance.
1: Know The Signs Of A Car In Trouble
Pay close attention for strange noises, especially knocking, loud buzzing, or screeching coming from under your hood. You may be able to diagnose the source of the sound on your own, but see a mechanic if you are unsure what to do about it.
2: Don’t Forget The Wax
Many vehicle owners overlook waxing as an unnecessary cosmetic option, but the reality is that waxing can protect your car’s exterior and preserve your paint job for much longer than it would last unwaxed.
3: Take Care Of Your Lights
Headlights can become cloudy and ineffective over time. You could invest in a headlight repair kit to sand away residue and restore the shine to your headlights, but you can also visit a mechanic for professional assistance with your headlights.
4: Be Wary Of Handwashing
Handwashing may seem like the gentler method to wash your car, but be sure to use an appropriate cleaning agent and a brush, pad, or washcloth that won’t scratch your paint.
5: Travel Light
More weight inside your vehicle means more stress overall on the vehicle’s frame and the wheels. Excessive weight can even cause the vehicle body to drop enough to interfere with wheel function.
6: Know How to Check Your Air Filter
Your vehicle’s air filter removes dirt and debris from the air that passes through your engine and enables the combustion of your fuel. Make sure to check it regularly and clean or replace it when dirty.
7: Check Tire Pressure Regularly
Check your tire pressure when your tires are cold, before driving. The heat from friction on the road surface can affect the accuracy of a tire pressure rating, so a cold reading gives the most accurate results.
8: Keep Your Windshield Clean
Your windshield wiper fluid may do a good job removing minor bits of dust and debris, but you should take time to regularly clean your wipers and visit the car wash if you need to get lots of grime off your windshield.
9: Plan Regular Tire Rotations
Rotating your tires helps preserve their treads and keep them balanced and operational for longer. Ideally, you should rotate your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.
10: Carry Emergency Tools And Supplies
It’s always wise to keep an emergency kit in your car. You can find reasonably priced auto repair toolkits at most parts shops.
11: Protect Your Interior
Cleaning and moisturizing your vehicle’s interior will help it repel dust and keep it looking great longer.
12: Recirculate Vehicle Air For More Efficient Cooling
Recirculating air-conditioned air in your vehicle is more efficient than leaving the windows open while the air conditioner runs.
13: Inspect Your Belts
Check the serpentine belts in your engine block if possible or ask your mechanic during your next service visit.
14: Check Your Brakes Regularly
Pay close attention to any dashboard indicators for your brakes and replace worn brake pads as soon as possible.
15: Learn How To Check Your Oil
Your vehicle’s manual should include instructions for checking your oil and replacing the oil, but ask your mechanic about an oil change if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself.
16: Keep Your Exterior Clean
Dirt and debris on your vehicle collects more dirt and bacteria that will eventually eat away at your paint job.
17: Don’t Let Waste Accumulate In Your Vehicle
Keep a small trashcan or trash bag in your vehicle to collect waste.
18: Check Your Sparkplugs
If you don’t feel comfortable checking or removing your sparkplugs, schedule a visit with your mechanic.
19: Check Your Battery
You should know how to find your vehicle’s battery, jump it if necessary, and know how to clean any chalky white residue that accumulates on the battery’s connections.
20: Replace Old Wipers
If you notice your windshield wipers streaking it is probably time to invest in a new set. Try to purchase the same type that came with your vehicle or invests in high-quality wiper blades that fit your windshield.
21: Flush Your Coolant
While you can do this yourself, if you do not feel comfortable you should definitely leave it up to your mechanic. This helps ensure your engine won’t overheat and continue to perform reliably.
22: Replace Your Fuel Filter
Dirty fuel lines can impede engine performance and cause catastrophic failures in some cases. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend changing the fuel filter every 30,000 miles.
23: Know How To Identify Fluid Leaks
Different vehicle fluids leaking can cause serious problems. Make sure you know how to identify coolant, oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid so you can address leaks quickly.
24: Fix Cracked Glass ASAP
A small crack in a window or windshield may not seem like a big deal, but it compromises the safety of the whole piece of glass. Repair any cracked glass as soon as possible.
25: Invest In High-Quality Wiper Fluid And Windshield Wipers
Wiper fluid is relatively inexpensive, so consider spending a few dollars more in higher-quality wiper fluid that will not freeze in low temperatures or streak your windshield.
26: Consider Exterior Engine Cleaning
The outside of your engine can easily accumulate dust and debris, and regularly cleaning the outside of your engine block helps ensure proper airflow and cleaner overall operation.
27: Check Indicators ASAP
If one of your dashboard lights indicates a problem, visit your mechanic as soon as possible. Fixing a small issue now is better than paying for a bigger problem later.
28: Find The Right Mechanic For Your Car
If you drive an import, it is best to find a mechanic who specializes in your brand of import. The same goes for large trucks, diesel vehicles, or recreational vehicles.
29: Invest In A Car Cover
Car covers are not just for trophy cars and classics; a car cover can protect your vehicle from rain and sun damage, bird droppings, tree sap, and damage from dirt blown by the wind.
30: Be Cautious With DIY Repairs
Thoroughly research any vehicle repair before you attempt it. If you do not feel comfortable working on your car, schedule an appointment with a mechanic so you do not risk causing a bigger problem.
31: Drive Safely
Safe driving helps prevent accidents, which in turn prevents you from needing to pay for expensive repairs. Safe and responsible driving is also easier on your vehicle’s engine and will keep it going for longer.
Keep these tips in mind during Car Care Month and consider setting up an appointment with your mechanic for a tune-up and specific advice about your vehicle.