Keeping ahead of car maintenance won’t just help your car run longer, it will help it run better too. The following are 8 of the most commonly forgotten car maintenance items that you need to be doing throughout the life of a car.
- Don’t let your brakes wear down
- Rotate and replace your tires
- Check your gas cap
- Keep your car in the garage
- Stay on top of oil changes
- Replace your air filter
- Change your windshield wipers out
There are a lot of reasons car maintenance is important. Maintaining your vehicle properly will help it keep it’s value in case you ever need to sell your car. Cars depreciate in value over time just by driving them, but their value will depreciate even faster if you don’t practice basic car maintenance. Keeping up with basic car maintenance also helps your car run better and live longer. Cars also get problems over time. They get older and need their parts tuned up or replaced. By keeping up with car maintenance you can mitigate depreciation and the effects of normal wear and tear.
Naturally people are conditioned to the thought process of, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” so they let a lot of these maintenance items slip because there isn’t currently a problem with their vehicle. Similar to the way most people don’t visit the dentist unless they feel like they might have a cavity. But it’s important to have a yearly dental checkup even when everything seems fine, and the same goes for your car’s care. This routine maintenance will end up saving you money in the long run and allow you to build more equity in your vehicle which will come in handy if you ever need an auto title loan.
#1: Don’t let your brakes wear down
Breaks are an important part of car safety. Have you ever felt your car start shaking and hear grinding as you brake? That’s a sign that your brakes are just about to fail. You don’t want to risk getting anywhere near this level. Change them when they squeal or get too thin. Don’t continue to drive on them when you know they need replaced.
#2: Rotate and replace your tires
Your tread will wear out unevenly depending on the tire’s location. To redistribute that wear, have your tires rotated every six months. Tire rotation is one of the cheaper repairs you can get, costing anywhere between 24 and 120 dollars.
Eventually you’ll also need to replace your tires. ‘Worn out’ doesn’t mean until your tires pop or become completely bald. In fact, the closer your tires get to bald, the more likely you are to get a blow-out, not to mention losing all traction on slippery roads.
Your state likely has a legal limit for how short your tire tread can be. Find out what’s legal for your state and keep an eye on your tread depth. If you deal with wet roads it’s a good idea to replace your tires when they have 4/32 inchesof remaining tread depth. Replace tires that are worn out to make sure you make it safely from point A to point B.
#3: Check your gas cap
Over the years, your gas cap can lose its seal as the rubber warps, breaks, or just wears down. This can cause you to lose gas mileage and can often turn your “check engine light” on. It can also cause moisture to get into your gas tank and hurt your engine’s performance.
Most gas caps are designed to last up to 100,000 miles. When you see your gas cap is getting old, pick up a new one and swap it out. They are usually cheap and easy to replace yourself.
#4: Keep your car in the garage
This isn’t a traditional maintenance item, but it is an important one that many forget about. A car is an investment, and exposing it to the outside elements for years can do a number to your car, and not just to the paint job. Keeping your car outdoors will depreciate it’s value over time much faster than if you keep it inside a garage.
Clean out the garage and make space to fit your cars into designated spots inside. Garages are often full of junk you’ll never use again anyway. Sell the junk, keep what you need, and organize what you keep better to get the most out of your garage space.
How to Organize Your Garage
- Remove everything from the garage.
- Get rid of things and put everything else into categories.
- Examples of categories: Seasonal (like Christmas decorations), Biking, Tools, Gardening
- Clean the garage.
- Sweep and wash the floors and walls, paint, and do any other renovations your garage might need.
- Install organization units.
- Overhead storage on the ceiling
- Storage bins
- Peg boards
- Wall hooks and racks
- Work bench and table
- Move all your things back into the garage now with everything in a planned out place, along with your car that now fits!
#5: Stay on top of oil changes
Depending on what kind of oil you get, you’ll only need to come in once every 7,500 to 10,000 miles to change your oil. Whatever the recommendation your oil gives you, stick to it. The consequence of not doing so is dirty oil passing through your engine. The more debris that makes it through means more damage to the engine.
Also, if you’re not keeping track of your oil levels, your engine could be burning more oil than you’re putting in. Should your oil run too low, your engine could seize up because temperatures run too hot. Not only does your oil keep the engine lubricated, but it also helps transfer heat out.
#6: Replace your air filter
Your engine requires a proper mixture of air and gasoline to run most efficiently. Your car sucks in enough air to mix with the fuel as it moves through the engine. The last thing you want to come in with that air is any dirt or debris from the earth. The debris will hurt the inside of your engine.
An air filter is placed in the way of all incoming air to catch all the debris. The filter can get so dirty that it actually blocks air flow, changing the air-gasoline mixture and reducing your engine’s effectiveness. You can usually tell that your filter is too dirty because the dirt looks caked onto the fibers. Change it before it reaches that point.
Generally you should change your air filter between 15,000 and 30,000 miles. If you drive on a lot of unpaved, dirt roads than you may need to change it more frequently.
#7: Change your windshield wipers out
Too often drivers don’t think about their windshield wipers because they only use them when it rains. They’ll go well over a year without changing their wipers. In the meantime, the rubber on the blades have started to crack, rip, and break, making them ineffective.
When they start missing large sections of water, making lots of squeaking sounds, or smearing your window instead of cleaning it, you know it’s time to change them. As a general rule you should replace your windshield wipers every 6 to 12 months.
Basic car maintenance and upkeep is an important thing for every car owner to get used to. If you take proper care of your vehicle you can rely on your car more. It will also help your car live longer and run better throughout its life. Then, when it eventually comes time to sell or trade in your car, it will have much more value than if you slacked on basic car maintenance. Keeping up with car maintenance can also help you out if you ever need a title loan.
Watch a video from Lowes about “How to Organize Your Garage.”
Read another Check City article about how to save on Car Maintenance, “Save Big-Time With These Car Maintenance Tips.”