Buying a car is often the first expensive purchase anyone makes. Whether you just bought a new car or your old beauty is still going strong, regular maintenance is vital to keep repair costs down. Most people remember to get their oil changed when the manufacturer recommends, but there are other important things to remember, too.
Weekly or every other week
If you have an older vehicle (meaning its warranty has expired, which is usually 7+ years), then you’ll want to do these items every week in order to maintain your vehicle. If you have a newer car, then every other week or even once a month should be fine.
- Check Tire pressure – Check the pressure on each tire. Not only is it much safer to have proper air tire pressure, it will also save you money because it prevents unnecessary wear and tear on your tires. Each car should have the recommended tire pressure for recommended tire sizes posted on the driver’s side doorjamb or inside the glove box. If your car is older or that sticker was removed, you can see the maximum tire pressure for your tires on the sidewall of each tire. To read your tire sidewalls, you can refer to this article in wikipedia.
- Don’t rely on a car’s tire pressure monitoring system. These systems are built to alert you if one or more tires are SIGNIFICANTLY underinflated, not that you need to perform regular maintenance. These systems don’t directly measure the tire pressure, they take measurements and estimate the tire pressure based on your vehicle’s performance.
- For instructions on how to check the air pressure in your tires, you can refer to this Bridgestone article.
- Check tire tread – Most tires come with a tread wear bar built into the tires (a little piece of rubber that sticks out inside the tire tread). If you don’t see any of these you can use a penny to test your tire tread. Insert a penny with Lincoln’s head going in first. If you can see all of Lincoln’s head, then you need to get new tires. Driving around on tires without proper tread is very dangerous and can lead to a blowout.
- Check Oil – Make sure your car is parked on even ground. Remove the oil dipstick, wipe it off, and then reinsert it completely. Hold it in for a few seconds to get a proper reading, remove it and make sure that the oil level is between the minimum and maximum. If it is low, add more oil as recommended by the manufacturer. For more detailed instructions, please refer to this article by Consumer Reports.
- Check Coolant – Especially now that summer is quickly approaching, it’s important to make sure that the coolant level is at its proper level. Coolant doesn’t just keep your car from freezing in the winter; it keeps it from overheating and thus having expensive radiator repairs. The coolant overflow tank is usually located right next to the radiator. It is a clear or light plastic container with markings for high and low. Checking and Filling your Coolant by About – Autos
Every three months or when you get an oil change
If you get your oil changed professionally, then they should be checking the following things as well as the weekly items:
- Lights – make sure all lights, including your brake lights, are working properly;
- Windshield wiper blades – make sure they work efficiently;
- Battery terminals – make sure there is no corrosion on the cables or terminals;
- Power steering fluid – check to make sure it is at the proper level; and
- Oil filter – check your manufacturer instructions for when the filter should be changed.
Every six months
When you set your clocks back or ahead, it is a good time to remember to do these items:
- Check to make sure your horn is working properly;
- Check your turn indicators;
- Make sure your spare tire is fully inflated; and
- Inspect your brakes for unusual wear and tear. If you see a lot of brake dust, clean it off because it can corrode the brake surface.
Of course, one of the most important things you can do as a car owner is have proper insurance. If you want to make sure you’re getting the best auto insurance coverage at the best rate and you live in Sacramento (or anywhere else in California), then fill out our FREE online quote.