REPAIRING MY CAR > Regular Maintenance Will Make Your Car Last Longer

Regular Maintenance Will Make Your Car Last Longer

ford_thunderbird_197735Regular Car Maintenance

As I have stated a hundred times before, I am not a mechanic. I am a car fanatic. I share some common sense advice on car repairs. In the past, I have paid the price for letting basic car maintenance go. Small problems can balloon into huge repair costs. Don’t make my mistakes. Some of the best car maintenance tips are in the owner’s manual. Regular maintenance is key to the long life of a car. Keeping up on the little things can make a big difference in how long your car lasts.

Keep Your Car in Top Shape – My Best Car Maintenance Tips

The first thing to do when setting up a maintenance routine is to read your owner’s manual. There are mileage charts detailing exactly what the factory recommends at different points in the car’s life. One of the most important things to do when you are maintaining your car is to keep every piece of paperwork. You want a record of everything that is done to the car. This serves as proof that the car has been maintained – and it serves as a reminder for you to keep the car serviced. In addition, having records of all the services your car has received can really help your car’s resale value.

Oil Change

Oil changes are one of the most important things you need to do to take care of your car’s engine. It is always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s recommended intervals for oil changes. In general, I like to have my car’s oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. but follow your manufacturer’s recommendations at the least.

Rotating Your Car’s Tires

It is very important to rotate your car’s tires on a regular basis. This is a key to long tire life. There are two sources for the recommended rotation intervals. First, check your owner’s manual. You can also check with the tire manufacturer for rotation intervals. Also, check the tires’ air pressure regularly. Rotation is also a big help in preventing premature tire wear. I have my tires rotated once a year – it costs less than a new set of tires.

Check Your Brake Pads

While you are having the tires rotated, ask the mechanic to check out the wear on the brake pads. The brakes are arguably the most important system on your car. A car is a missile – you need to be able to stop safely. Catching brake wear early can save a lot of money on repairs.

Alignment

Front-end wheel alignment should be done on a regular basis. Keeping your tires in alignment helps improve tire wear. It also keeps the car tracking straight down the road, making it handle better. In some cases a four-wheel alignment is needed. Always have this checked by a qualified mechanic. I like to have my car aligned every two years, but follow your owner’s manual at the least. Yes, I tend to go overboard, but it beats letting maintenance slide.

Test Your Car’s Battery Regularly

Have your car battery checked every year. The last thing you want is to come out on a cold wet morning and find that your battery is dead. Nothing can ruin your day better. I take my car to my mechanic yearly and have the battery tested. Most of today’s batteries last a minimum of 24 months. This can vary a lot depending on conditions – think cold climates here. A fresh battery is cheap insurance when taking care of your car.

Keep Your Vital Fluids Fresh

Maintaining your car also includes flushing and changing the fluids in several systems of the car. First of all, I like to have the radiator fluid flushed out and refilled every two years. You can go further, but be sure to have the fluid checked yearly by your favorite mechanic. Next is the brake fluid. It is a good idea to refer to your owner’s manual for the intervals on this. I like to do it once every two years. But I generally go overboard. The fluid in the car’s automatic transmission also needs attention. This is another instance where you should refer to your owner’s manual. I know I get a little excessive on maintenance, so I generally go beyond what the factory recommends – I do the transmission every year. You can refer to my post on automatic transmission maintenance for more information. For cars with a manual transmission, there is still a need to change the fluid. This fluid generally lasts longer than that in an automatic transmission. I have it changed every two years. Another area that needs attention is the car’s rear-end gear oil. This oil is long-lasting, and I generally go by the factory’s recommendations.

Timing Belt

One of the bigger items that needs some attention is the timing belt. The timing belt controls the operation of the car’s valve train. On most cars, if the timing belt breaks, the engine will be badly damaged. This repair cannot be ignored. Most cars require a new timing belt every 100,000 miles – but check your owner’s manual for specifics. Don’t skip this one.

Fresh Windshield Wipers

One last thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is the windshield wiper blades. These things just don’t last very long. However, they are vital on those rainy nights! I like to replace my wipers every year. Even if they look good, the rubber can begin to harden and wear out. You need to be able to see to drive safely. These are my top items for car maintenance. Being an obsessed auto detailer, I have to also mention caring for your car’s paint. Keep a coat of wax or polish on it – it’s cheaper to wax the car regularly than get it repainted if the finish dulls and peels off. Stay on top of the little things, keep your maintenance and repair records, and keep your car young.

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