Most of us spend a great deal of time in our cars. We rely on them to get us where we need to go, whether across town or the country. But all too often, we neglect to properly maintain our vehicles, which can lead to expensive repairs down the road.
Engine misfires, rusty spark plugs, and a terrible fuel economy are just a few problems that can arise from neglecting your car.
We get it; changing oil every 5000 miles or checking your tire pressure every week can be painful. But wouldn’t shelling out on a new engine be even more of a headache? Especially if the issues could’ve been avoided?
Regular car maintenance is essential for preventing expensive repairs down the road. Here are a few car maintenance tips to save you money. Stay tuned for more helpful automotive advice!
Maintaining the Exterior
Have you never kissed another car’s bumper with yours? Slim chance! We’ve all had a fender bender or scraped up our cars on a tight squeeze into a parking spot.
Cars are expensive, and even minor damage can be costly to repair. You can avoid all that by maintaining the exterior of your vehicle. That means regularly washing and waxing your car to protect the paint and prevent rust.
You should also check your car for dents, scratches, or cracks. If you spot an unsightly dent royally screwing up the look of your car, you can remove it yourself with a plunger! Just make sure the plunger is clean first. Or you can opt for paintless dent repair by a technician.
Change the Oil
Neither you nor your car is going anywhere with an engine loaded with gross, debris-filled oil. Your car’s oil affects your budget big time. You may have to deal with environmental damage of exhaust smoke, non-stop engine knocking, and low fuel economy. These problems can be remedied by changing your car’s oil regularly. Yes, it’s that simple!
The frequency depends on your car’s make, model, and driving habits. If, for instance, you drive in stop-and-go traffic daily, you might need an oil change more often than someone who drives on the highway.
As a rule of thumb, most cars need oil changes every 3000-5000 miles. It’s an easy DIY car maintenance task, or you can take it to a professional. But make sure to use the correct type of oil for your car! There are types!
Check Your Tire Pressure
Bald and under-inflated tires can be a nightmare when you’re packed and ready to leave for an exciting road trip. But flat tires don’t just ruin vacations– they’re also dangerous and can lead to accidents.
Why do they get flat in the first place? Well, under-inflated tires increase friction, which causes them to heat up and wear down quicker. That means you’ll have to replace them more often, which costs you money. So, save yourself the headache (and danger) and check your tire pressure regularly.
All you have to do is buy a tire pressure gauge and check the pressure of all four tires. If they’re low, add air until they reach the recommended PSI. You can find this number in your car’s owner’s manual or on the placard inside the driver-side door.
Replace the Brake Pads
Is that squeaking sound annoying you? Is your pedal getting harder to press? Any burning smell? These are all signs that your brake pads need to be replaced.
Brake pads work by pressing against the rotors (the metal discs that your wheels spin on) to slow down or stop the car. When they get old and worn out, they can’t do their job as well. You want to replace them ASAP because they can damage the rotors if they get too worn down. Check your brake fluid to ensure your brake pads are doing fine.
Replacing brake pads is a lot cheaper than replacing rotors. It may cost somewhere between $300 and $400 to replace all four brake pads. But if you wait too long and have to replace the rotors, it’ll cost you around $1000. So, what is it going to be?
Install New Windshield Wipers
If you’re mostly on the go, you understand the importance of windshield wipers. They help you see clearly when it’s raining, snowing, or when there’s dirt and debris on your windshield. Oh, and let’s not forget the flying critters that like to end their lives by smacking into your windshield at 60 mph.
You should replace your windshield wipers every six months or so, or sooner if you notice that they’re not working as well as they used to. You can usually find a good pair of windshield wipers for around $30. And it’s a pretty easy installation– you can do it yourself in less than 30 minutes.
Check your Coolant
Here comes the most dreaded car trouble! Overheating! It can happen when your car’s coolant level is low. The coolant helps to keep the engine from overheating by transferring heat away from it.
If you notice that your car’s temperature gauge is rising, it’s about time you realize your coolant has been sucked dry. An arid tank will cause your vehicle to overheat and damage the engine beyond repair.
Checking coolant levels is easy; no fancy tools are required. Just open the hood, look for the reservoir (usually a plastic tank), and check the level. If it’s low, top it off with the correct coolant. Don’t forget to check your owner’s manual to determine what type of coolant is best for your vehicle.
Be Mindful of the Suspension System
Shocks, struts, and springs are part of your car’s suspension system. The suspension system helps keep your ride smooth by absorbing the impact of bumps and potholes.
If you start to feel every little bump on the road, it’s probably time to check your suspension. An excellent way to tell if your shocks or struts need to be replaced is if your car starts to bounce when you go over a bump. Also, if you notice that your vehicle is leaning to one side, your springs are probably worn out and need to be replaced.
Most auto shops can usually check your suspension system for free. And if they do find that something needs to get replaced, it’s not too expensive.
While most car troubles can be expensive, there are some easy and preventative maintenance tasks that you can do to save yourself some money. You have to give some time to your merry vehicle!
It’s a good thing they talk to you. So, keep an eye on the temperature gauge, engine check light, and oil pressure light. These will alert you when things are about to go haywire. If you’re ever unsure about something, don’t hesitate to take it to a professional.