It's often far cheaper to work at keeping a vehicle in good shape than to wait for something to go wrong. It can also be safer since a major issue popping up on the highway or during a tight turn has the potential to cause a serious accident.
That said, it can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to maintenance. That's why we've put together some actionable car maintenance tips to help users start keeping their cars in better shape.
Tip 1: Read Your Owner's Manual
One simple but effective way to understand your vehicle better is to read your owner's manual. This innocuous book of use and maintenance come with all cars (and are often available online too)
While it may not be the most enjoyable experience to review your owner's manual, it is designed to help you understand the car. At the very least, check it any time you have an issue or get an alert that you don't understand.
Most manuals also contain a recommended maintenance schedule, listing when you should change your oil, swap out filters, and more. This is useful information many owners simply ignore.
Finally, the manual is going to have various safety procedures to follow and other important warnings if you intend to do any maintenance yourself. Always check these warnings before working on your vehicle as it may have nuances you don't expect.
Tip 2: Learn How to Check Your Fluids
Checking the fluids on most vehicles is an easy process. The most fluid many people know how to check is their oil but your engine coolant, antifreeze, and steering fluid are likely about as easy to check and arguably as important.
This is a good item to keep at the top of any car maintenance checklist because checking fluids is easy to do yourself but failing to do it can cause some expensive problems down the line.
Even if you've topped off your fluids recently, it can be a good idea to check it whenever it is time for routine maintenance or you have an issue. That way you can immediately rule out a fluid leak being the root cause of any trouble.
If you haven't worked much with cars, the good news is topping off low fluids is also easy. Your owner's manual or a quick Google search will help you identify what fluid to buy and where to pour it if you're low on any particular one.
Even better, some newer cars can check your fluids for you. By using sensors built into their inner workings, these cars can show you where your levels are at.
Tip 3: Peek at Your Battery
A car can't function without a working battery. The good news is that while basic battery maintenance can be intimidating, it isn't all that difficult.
Once you identify where your car battery is, you will notice two wires coming from the workings of the car and attaching to two distinct parts of the battery (called terminals). This is the first place to check when looking over a battery.
Remembering to make sure your car is off, check to make sure first that your car's cables have a tight hold on the battery's terminals. If this connection gets severed, the car won't turn on, regardless of the battery's state.
Then we recommend checking for corrosion around where the cables meet the battery terminals. If you notice corrosion, it can be brushed off with a toothbrush using a simple solution of water mixed with baking soda.
If at any point in your inspection you notice the battery is cracked, leaking water, or your wires are frayed, that's a sign more serious maintenance is in order.
If you do notice any serious problems with the battery, schedule an appointment with your mechanic. Even if the car functions now, faults in your battery could cause the car to shut off at random. Worse, some battery issues can even lead to fires or explosions.
Tip 4: Have a Car Maintenance Schedule
This tip is a simple one but one of the most important so far: have a maintenance schedule. Vehicle maintenance is about diligence and a schedule can help make sure you don't miss obvious issues before they get worse.
You should get your car inspected by someone who is an expert in auto maintenance at least once a year, with some experts saying 3 to 6 months is even better.
Unfortunately, many car owners put off having a professional look at their car way beyond that. Without a set car maintenance schedule, it's easy to put off the moderate expense and ignore "small" issues until they get worse.
Confronting problems with your vehicle early often sharply reduces the cost of repairs. Moreover, a great deal of maintenance isn't something most car owners can do themselves. You can do a basic lookover but you want a professional eye on occasion.
Remember, this schedule is for routine maintenance. If something happens, like an accident, get the car looked at right away.
Car insurance can often cover repairs but only if the damage can be linked to a given incident. Delaying can make the situation more complicated as it becomes more of an open question about what caused what.
Following Simple Car Maintenance Tips Can Have a Big Impact
The above car maintenance tips aren't difficult to implement into your routine, even if you're not very familiar with cars. Some basic care for your vehicle and a regular professional inspection can go a long way.
If you'd like to insure that same vehicle (or any other), we hope you'll consider Insurdinary. We can get you a competitive quote for auto insurance and more. Feel free to explore our site to see all the other services we offer too.