Automobiles are one of the largest expenses you will face in your lifetime. The average auto loan is $27,000 for a new car. Between scheduled maintenance services like oil changes and unscheduled repairs like flat tires. An automobile can cost its owner thousands of dollars per year. If your vehicle is not operating properly, it could be costing you more than you bargained for in gas mileage or even time off work waiting to drop it off at the mechanics.
Make Sure You Change your Oil Regularly.
Regular oil changes are the single most effective way to improve fuel economy and can increase a car’s lifespan by 15,000 miles or more. Most cars have the “oil change light” that alerts you when it is time for another oil change. A simple Google search of your car model with the keywords “when to replace oil” will give you an estimate on how often changing your oil is necessary. Many people neglect to change their engine’s oil because of the hassle associated with doing so, but it only takes 30 minutes to half an hour once you get used to the process. Also, some mechanics offer free basic services like checking fluids if you allow them to promote their other services during your oil change.
Make Sure You Get a Tuneup.
“Tuneups” are often confused with “oil changes”, but they are different services. A tuneup typically includes an oil change, checking and replacing fluids, spark plugs, and other minor adjustments to the car’s components. It is recommended that you get a tuneup every 30,000 miles or two years. It is a good idea to ask a mechanic about what needs to be done for each service during your next visit so you know when to expect it again.
Don’t Neglect Your Tires
Checking tire pressure monthly can increase gas mileage by as much as 3%. The proper psi should be listed in your owner’s manual or on the inside of the driver’s door jamb. Also, make sure to rotate your tires every 6,000 miles for even wear.
Know What Needs Attention Right Away
Make a list of anything that needs immediate attention and have it fixed right away. These things include low tire pressure, broken wiper blades, and burnt-out headlight bulbs. A check engine light that won’t go off after a tuneup or oil change, etc.
You can find tutorials online for these minor repairs yourself with the use of simple tools from your father’s toolbox. A little effort now can save you from being stranded at work later when you’re trying to get home.
Wash Your Car Often
The United States has nearly 3 million miles of paved road and more than 100 million vehicles on the road. Between acid rain, brake dust, mud, and pollution your car is collecting a lot of grime. Wash your car at least once every other month to protect it from this buildup which will affect both its paint job and fuel economy.
Rotate Your Tires
Tire rotation is a somewhat labor-intensive process that most drivers neglect until they have a thumping sound when driving over bumps in the road.
It is best to go to an auto shop for this service because individual tires can come off if not put back on properly by somebody who knows what they are doing. Tire rotation will help you get the most out of your tires. It can save you a lot of money in gas mileage over time.
Flip Your Air Vents Around
Prevent dust from collecting on your vents by rotating them to face downward or away from the windshield when not using the AC/heater. Make sure that you also clean your AC filters regularly, as well as replace them if necessary.
Got an especially wet winter? There may be some clogging around your tailpipe or other areas, so check under the car for any old leaves or debris that have built up over time. Use a wire hanger or similarly thin object to carefully remove any buildup inside drain holes without scratching the surface.
Replace Burned Out Headlight Bulbs
Burned-out headlights are a common reason for getting pulled over, so it is best to replace them right away if they have been out for more than a week or two. You can often do this yourself with just a little bit of elbow grease and some high-wattage headlight bulbs from your local auto shop.
Keep an Emergency Roadside Kit In Your Car
You never know when you’re going to need some help on the side of the road, so keep an emergency roadside kit in your trunk at all times. This should include jumper cables, flares or warning triangles, and first aid like bandages and antibiotic creams. Keep a fully-charged flashlight in the glove compartment, along with emergency contact information for roadside assistance or your insurance provider.
Don’t Check Your Tire Pressure When it’s Cold Out
You may have heard that checking tire pressure when temperatures are below freezing can damage them, but this is no longer considered true. It’s still best to check it only when the tires are warm. A simple test is to press down on one of your car’s floorboard boards that cover part of your wheel well; if you can feel any cold air through the metal, the temperature outside is too low. Also, consider storing an emergency kit in your trunk in case you encounter trouble while driving. You never know when you’ll need some help on the side of the road, so keep some flares or warning triangles in case you break down.
Check Your Tire Tread
Every time you change your oil, check the tread of your tires to make sure there are no weak spots. This can happen very quickly on wet roads during cold seasons after a long winter with lots of potholes and ice. But it is possible for even summertime driving to cause this type of damage with constant high speeds or extreme cornering maneuvers. Doing this regularly will save you from having to visit the mechanic later when something becomes especially problematic.
There are plenty of simple tips for keeping your car roadworthy that don’t require a lot of time or money. Make sure to check your tires regularly and replace them when needed. Maybe as often as every six years under certain conditions. The best way to do this is when rotating them from side to side. When the tread is still in good condition on the other three tires. Keep up regular maintenance schedules in order to keep your car in top shape. Even if it means visiting a mechanic a little more often than average drivers.