Your car is an extension of your family. It takes you everywhere (that is possible by wheels), reduces the need for commutes and simplifies your transportation. Because of how useful cars are, there's a tendency to overuse them and forget to care for them, which results in breakdowns in the future.
Instead of overusing your car, it's time to step up your maintenance plan. Remember: your car won't take care of itself. Invest in important maintenance tasks like adding all-weather car floor mats, checking the gas regularly and having your brakes checked.
The car maintenance to-do list can be a long one. Instead of spending more time watching mind bending movies, it's time to care for your car.
If you want to care for your car but don't know where to start, here are some tasks to add to your list.
Clean the Windshield
This is the easiest first step in any car maintenance routine. A dirty windshield is a safety hazard since it obscures your view of the road. Reduce your risk for accidents by regularly cleaning your windshield.
Use the spongy part of your squeegee and soak the windshield with the cleaning fluid. Pull the squeegee tightly from the middle of the window to the sides and wipe off the remaining streaks. Cleaning your windshield is especially important after long drives on the highway, especially if your windshield is littered with dirt, dust and insect carcasses.
Be Patient During Your Break-In Period
This piece of advice is for the new car owner. So you've bought your dream car and want to make it last as long as possible.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you pull your vehicle out of the dealer's lot:
- On your first 1,000 miles, refrain from going over 55 mph or to your car manufacturer's recommended speed.
- Your new car shouldn't be idle for long periods. Drive whenever you can to keep the oil pressure from breaking down.
- Use only light to medium acceleration.
Drive Your Car With Care Daily
Being considerate with your car shouldn't stop after the break-in. Every day, drive with care so your car will reward you with longer services without repair.
- Refrain from racing your car's engine, especially during the start-up. This is the quickest way to prolong your car's life, especially if it's cold outside.
- When you start to drive, accelerate slowly. The most wear to the drive train and engine occurs within the first 10 to 20 minutes of operation.
- Refrain from warming the engine by letting it stay idle in your driveway. The car's engine doesn't operate when it's warm, resulting in soot deposits on cylinder walls, oil contamination, incomplete fuel combustion and damaged car components.
- Avoid accelerating quickly and driving at high speeds, especially when it's cold or hot outside. This driving behavior will result in more repairs.
- Extend your tires' lives by driving carefully. Avoid fast turns, stops and starts. Also, be more mindful of the objects and potholes on the road. Refrain from running over curbs or hitting your tires against the curb when parking.
- Consolidate short driving trips. Most of the wear your car experiences, as well as the pollution it can generate, happens during the first few minutes of driving.
Change the Oil
Routinely checking and changing your car's oil keeps the engine in a good condition. Make it a habit to check your oil monthly and change it as instructed in your owner's manual.
You can always have a pro to do the oil change for you but you can also change it yourself. If you want to do the oil change on your own, learn to set the correct oil level, drain the fluid and dispose of old oil.
Also, know which type of motor oil is the best for your vehicle, regardless of whether you take it to a service center or change the oil yourself. This requires consideration of three important things: your car's mileage, the oil viscosity and whether you want to use non-synthetic or synthetic oil.
Check the Fluids
Apart from the oil, other fluids should be maintained at appropriate levels to keep your car running properly. You or your mechanic should check the following:
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
If there is a leak with any of these fluids, it will impact the way you drive. If you spot a leak, you can identify the leaking fluid by its color. This can help you determine where the leak comes from, as well as speed up the repair process.
Keeping your car clean and in good shape keeps you and your passengers safe, ensuring a smooth drive. If you're still unsure how to go about your maintenance, get in touch with your local mechanic for help.