We get it—car maintenance, like replacing brake pads and changing the oil, can be a real drag. But paying a little bit here and there to keep up with your car’s lifespan and to keep major car repairs at bay is completely worth it.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through some maintenance tips that could delay or even prevent the need to pay for a big fix to your ride.
1. Inspect & Maintain Tires
The lifespan of your tires quickly depreciates if they aren’t properly maintained. A new tire, on average, costs about $120 dollars. Checking your tire pressure includes finding the recommended pressure and checking the PSI. For every 3 units of PSI below recommendation, your vehicle consumes 1% more fuel and incurs about 10% more tread wear.
A flat tire is a hazard that can be dangerous to you and your car. There are several preventative steps you can take to help avoid this, such as rotating your tires.
- When: Set a monthly date on the calendar to check your tires or check them every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.
2. Change the Oil
Routinely checking and changing your car’s oil is essential to keeping its engine in running condition. The simplest task to increase the life of your vehicle is to maintain the proper amount of oil in the engine. It’s better to spend as little as $25 to get the oil changed than to put it off and risk wearing out your engine.
- When: Check your oil each month or every 5,000 miles and change it as directed in the car’s owner’s manual.
3. Check Your Engine Air Filter
Many car problems are due to clogged air filters or loose fittings. A dirty engine air filter can allow dirt and other particulates into your car’s engine and reduce its efficiency. You can get the filter replaced by your mechanic or in the comfort of your garage in just 10 minutes.
- When: Inspect your car’s air filter once a year or every 12,000 miles, and replace it as needed.
4. Check the Fluids
Several fluids should be kept at the appropriate levels to help keep your car running properly. According to Popular Mechanics, you or your mechanic should check:
- Engine oil
- Power steering fluid
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid
A leak with any of these fluids can affect the way your car drives. If you spot a leak, you may be able to identify the fluid by its color
- When: It’s a good idea to check these fluids twice a year—once before the warm weather hits and again before the cold weather swoops in.
5. Check Your Battery
Corrosion comes in the form of a white or bluish powder and can form on the terminals of your battery. If you don’t keep them clean, the battery could develop a crack or not function properly, leaving you stranded. Buying a $5 wire brush and keeping the terminals looking spiffy is money well spent.
- When: Test your battery twice a year and inspect it for corrosion
6. Check Your Spark Plugs
If you notice that your car is not performing efficiently, or your engine is not working well, then the reason could be the spark plugs. You might want to check the spark plugs and wires if they are old or they could be covered in a buildup.
When: Spark plus usually lasts for 30,000 miles or more; see your owner’s manual for more information.
Set Up a Car Maintenance Line Item in Your Budget
Even though keeping up with car maintenance is less expensive than doing major repairs, it can still add up. Make a line item in your budget for car maintenance. This way you can save up over time for that new spark plug, oil change, or set of tires.
Just like regular car checkups, it’s also a good idea to review your car insurance policy from time to time. This can help ensure your policy’s coverages, limits and deductibles are up-to-date and suitable for your current situation.