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How to Properly Maintain Your Car

Maintaining your car is all about protecting your investment because we all know how much of a financial commitment it is. That’s why performing maintenance, both routine and preventative, tasks helps extend your car’s life and saves you money.

Too many times people don’t check on their car between their scheduled maintenance periods and end up encountering expensive problem that could have been easily avoided.

So to avoid those costly trips to the garage, here is how you can easily maintain your own car and save a little money along the way.

Check your tire pressure

Keeping your tires properly inflated won’t only keep you and your passengers safe, it can also save you money at the tire shop. Tires that are over-inflated or under-inflated have a higher chance of blowing out and will decrease your gas mileage.

You can easily check your tire pressure at the gas station while you’re filling up and know if you need to put a little air in. Your car’s manufacturer will provide the recommended tire pressure for the front and rear tires on a sticker inside the driver’s side door.

Carry a tire pressure gauge with you at all times so you can always know when you need to make a stop for air.

DIY maintenance

Even though more modern cars are powered by complex computers that require special (expensive) tools, there are still ways you can save a little money and perform tasks yourself.

Oil Change (Every 3,000-5,000 miles)

  • Make sure you engine is cool. Never work on an engine that’s hot.
  • Have your car on level ground and either drive it up on ramps or secure it with jack stands.
  • Locate the oil pan on the bottom of the car and locate the drain plug. Have a catch pan ready to catch the old oil.
  • Locate your oil filter and remove it using your hands or an oil filter wrench. Be careful because the filter will have old oil in it so have your catch pan close by.
  • Take your new oil filter and lubricate the black gasket and fill the new filter with new oil. Then screw the new filter back on.
  • Then go to the top of the car and pop the hood, remove the oil cap, and fill your engine with the recommended amount of new oil. Use the dipstick to make sure you’ve added enough oil.
  • Replace the oil cap, close the hood, and you’re all done!

Air Filters (Every 15,000 miles)

  • Pop the hood and find the air box. It’s a black plastic rectangle with metal clamps on the side.
  • Take the lid of the casing and remove the air filter. Note: Make note of how the filter sits in the box. That will let you know how you need to insert the new one.
  • Inspect the empty casing and clean out any leaves or debris that might be in there.
  • Insert the new filter, close the air box, and secure the lid.
  • You’re finished!

Rotate your tires (Every 6,000 miles)

Your front and rear tires wear differently and need to be rotated periodically to assure that you get the most out of all your tires. With that being said, rotating your tires is something you can do yourself so you can avoid having to buy costly replacements.

Since there are front-wheel drive, real-wheel drive, and 4-wheel drive vehicles, you will need to look up the rotating pattern for your car so you can be sure your tires are being worn evenly.

NOTE: Consult your owner’s manual for specific mileage recommendations.

Check your battery connections

Your battery is a small object that has a huge impact on your car. It decides whether it turns on or not. Batteries have acid in them and can sometimes cause the cables and connections (also called terminals) to corrode and fall apart.

When you’re at home or at the gas station, pop the hood every now and then and check to see if there’s any corrosion you need to get off your battery. It’s an easy task that can help prolong your battery’s life and reduce the risk of getting in your car and it not starting.

Pick up a wire brush and some battery cleaner at your local auto store and you’ll be able to effectively fight corrosion and not have to buy new terminals and possibly a battery.

Follow the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual

Do you remember the saying “mother knows best?” When it comes to your car, your owner’s manual knows best. Heck, it was given to you by the company that made your car.

So if you don’t know when you should be perform a certain maintenance task, pop open the glove box and read the manufacturer’s recommendations because they wouldn’t give it to you unless it was true.

Any other car maintenance tips you feel like should be in here? Feel free to share them with us!