Regular car maintenance will save you a fortune in auto repair! Even if you find the topic of car maintenance boring, it’s worth knowing how to prevent costly repairs by performing some basic car maintenance yourself and knowing when it’s time to have your mechanic do other basic car maintenance tasks.
Car maintenance you should do yourself:
1/ Read your car’s manual, if you don’t have one, download a copy Online. Your car’s manual is the best guide to its maintenance and to saving you money on avoidable repairs.
The frequency of motor oil change can vary widely by vehicle. So does the frequency of scheduled filter changes, drive or timing belts in your vehicle. Your car’s manual will tell you whether you’re putting the right type of gasoline in your vehicle or whether you’re using the right kind of oil in the first place. Follow the manual’s guidelines to have a well-performing car and to save money. Why? By filling a car that calls for higher octane fuel with the lowest octane stuff you can buy, you may run the risk of voiding your warranty, and worse, causing damage that’ll cost more to fix than you’d save by using cheap gas.
2/ Check your car’s fluid levels. There are a number of fluids that need to be checked:
water / coolant
power steering fluid
3/ Inspect your battery and make sure that it isn’t leaking and that there’s no buildup on its contacts. (If you see white buildup on the battery’s contacts, remove it with a wire brush.)
4/ Pay attention to the small stuff: listen for unusual sounds, check tire pressure (under-inflated tires burn more gas) and condition of the tires’ thread. Be aware of any leaks. (Yes, be sensitive to any stains left by your car on the garage floor.)
Should you do more? Unless you’re a mechanic or DIY auto repair wizard: no. (Motor oil change for instance is a messy job + you’d have to know how to dispose of the old, dirty motor oil in environmentally responsible way. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea.) It’s extremely helpful however to know what else is a part of basic car maintenance. Why? Not every car problem is its failure, some are a matter of maintenance provided in a timely manner. (It is the proper car maintenance done on time that keeps a car in good shape and saves you money on major repairs, not to mention prevents driving hazards. Car maintenance is pretty much the same as preventative medicine: it’s better, cheaper and safer to prevent than it is to ignore.)
That’s why it’s good to know that a car requires:
- Regular oil changes
- Filter replacements
- Timing and serpentine belts changes
- Tire rotations and re-alignment
- Windshield wipers’ replacement
When you know these few things, you will be ready to take action before any of the basic car maintenance issues cause costly problems AND you won’t get taken advantage of by a non-scrupulous mechanic.
BOTTOM LINE: you don’t have to be a mechanic to own a car but if you’d like to drive a great car and be in charge of it, knowing the basic car maintenance how to is power.