Advancements in modern vehicles and their components have extended the average age of a car on the road in the United States to 12 years. While there’s no question that the make and model of your car, truck, or SUV can play a major role in how long it’s likely to last, there’s a lot you can do with proper care and routine maintenance to keep your car running smoothly and looking good for years to come.
Continue reading for our top car maintenance tips to extend the life of your vehicle, which can potentially save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
1. Inspect & Rotate Your Tires
No good car care routine is complete without proper tire care. After all, your tires are what keep your car on the road. With regular wear and tear, you should inspect your tires approximately once a month (or more frequently if you live in a cold climate or often drive on uneven roads or for long distances). Check the tread and air pressure, visually inspect the alignment, and check to make sure your car isn’t making any unusual noises while you’re driving.
In order to make your tires last as long as possible, you’ll also want to rotate them regularly. As a general rule, your tires should be rotated approximately every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. If you notice uneven wear on your tires sooner than that, you should take your car in more frequently.
2. Get Regular Oil Changes
Oil is absolutely essential to keep your vehicle running smoothly. It keeps your engine parts lubricated and prevents them from grinding against each other and destroying your engine. Whether you get your oil changed by the pros or you prefer to do it yourself, make sure you do so regularly and on schedule to keep your car in tip-top shape.
3. Check the Fluids
It’s important to regularly check the fluids your car relies on to function properly. Here are the six fluids you’ll want to keep an eye on:
- Engine oil
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Windshield washer fluid
4. Test the Headlights
Your headlights are essential for safety anytime you’re driving at night, in tunnels or garages, in the rain or fog, or in any other low-light or low-visibility situation.
The best way to check your headlights yourself is to start the ignition and leave your parking brake on. This way you can turn each light on and safely get out of the car to visually inspect them. Or, if a spouse, partner, or friend is available, ask them to give you a hand.
5. Replace Your Windshield Wipers
Over time, windshield wipers lose their effectiveness and need to be replaced. Depending on where you live and how often you use your wipers, you’ll likely need to replace them every 6 to 12 months in order to keep them working optimally.
6. Check the Engine Air Filter
Depending on how much driving you do, you may need to change your air filter as often as once or twice a year. It’s generally a good idea to check your air filter every time you change your oil.
7. Check Your Brakes
Making sure your brakes are in good working condition is essential for obvious reasons. It’s easy to take them for granted, but if your brakes fail, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands.
You can inspect your brake pads visually by looking through the spaces between the wheel spokes; the outside pads are located up against a metal rotor. As a general rule, there should be at least ¼ inch of pad. If you see less, you should consider taking your car in to have your brake pads replaced.
Other things to keep an eye out for when it comes to your brakes are:
- Reduced responsiveness
8. Keep the Paint in Good Condition With Regular Car Washes
Whether you prefer to go through an automatic car wash, or you like to get the hose out and do it yourself, routine car washes are a good idea. Washing your car regularly allows you to wash more gently, which will help preserve the paint job as well as the components beneath it.
If you only wash your car when it’s really dirty, you’ll end up needing to wash it more aggressively and use more abrasion to get it looking clean.
9. Make Sure Your Car Insurance Is Up to Date
In addition to keeping up with routine car care and having your vehicle regularly serviced, it’s also a good idea to review your car insurance from time to time. You want to make sure you’re not overpaying or under-covered for your current situation, so it’s a good idea to look over your coverages, limits, and deductibles every now and then and update them if necessary.
Does Your Car Need Repairs? Bring It in to Portland’s Most Trusted Auto Body Shop
Sometimes, damage to your vehicle is unavoidable. If you’ve been in an accident or need body work done for any reason, the professionals at Mackin’s Auto Body have got you covered. With more than 75 years of experience, our shop has the equipment and know-how to get the job done right the first time.