A car is a major investment. It can consume a good chunk of your take-home pay every month, so you want to keep it in great shape as long as possible. Basic maintenance will prolong the life of your car, preserve fuel efficiency levels and ensure that you enjoy a smooth ride for many years to come.
Rotate the Tires
Over time, your tires will start to wear down. If left in one position, the wear patterns will become severe enough to warrant buying new tires. However, you can prolong the life of your tires by simply rotating them. Front tires should move to the back, and they should also be switched to the opposite sides. This evens out wear patterns, prolongs the useful life and ensures that you get more money out of every set of tires. Make sure to have your tires rotated regularly when you have the oil changed.
Regular Oil Changes
The oil in your engine keeps the moving parts lubricated. The oil breaks down with use, so it becomes less effective as a lubricant. Regularly changing the oil ensures that your engine won’t seize up and leave you with massive repair bills. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes. Some still recommend having it changed every three months or 3,000 miles, but others say that you can go up to 5,000 miles between oil changes. When in doubt, it’s better to change the oil more frequently than to take chances with your valuable engine.
Perform a Few Checks when you Stop for Gas
When you’re at the gas station fueling your car, it’s a good idea to perform a few basic checks. You don’t have to check these items every time you stop for gas, but you certainly should check them at least once a month or so.
- Oil Level – With the engine off, pull the dipstick out of the tube and wipe it off with a paper towel. Push it back in completely, wait a moment and then pull it out to check the level. The oil should be between the “H” and “L” markers on the stick or in a shaded area.
- Coolant is Important – It’s not wise to rely solely on the gauges inside the car to tell you if there’s a problem. Checking the coolant can help you catch an issue before it turns into a major repair. Wait until your engine has cooled down and then take a look at the levels inside the semi-transparent container. The liquid should be between the low and high markings.
- Tire Pressure – Studies have shown that more than half of cars are running on low tires. Visual inspections will only show you if the tires are drastically low on air. Rely on your pressure gauge for an accurate reading. The perfect time to check air is at the pump because you can head over the air tank next and correct the levels. Proper tire pressure provides you with a smoother ride, better response time for safety, and higher fuel economy.
Use the Right Fuel
Some people are sold on 93 octane gas and won’t use anything less. Others view it as a complete waste and won’t choose anything but trusty 87 octane. The fact is that it actually depends on your car. Sports cars have high compression engines that will create more power. They need the higher octanes for safety. Family sedans and most SUVs actually run most efficiently with the cheaper 87 octane. Your owner’s manual will tell you which fuel to use, and it’s important that you use the one recommended by the manufacturer to protect your car and save money.
Taking care of your car will allow you to extend the life of your vehicle. Even if you don’t plan on keeping it more than a few years, it’s still wise to invest in this regular maintenance. When your car looks sharp and has obviously been cared for, you will be able to command a higher selling price.
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