If you don’t pay attention to your car’s health, things go downhill rapidly.
Service costs grow, you could be left stranded on the side of a road, or you might even be forced to sell your car because it’s not worth keeping.
Don’t let those things happen.
These simple tips will help you stay on top of your car’s mechanics.
Cars today tend to have a lot going on under the hood, but that shouldn't scare you from going in there and giving its vitals a lookover every once in a while.
Fluids like motor oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and clutch fluid (if your car is manual) are easy to check. To get an accurate reading on these fluids and locate their reservoirs, your car's owners manual should give you an accurate guide for when and how you should be checking these fluids.
If a dipstick is reading low or the fluid looks far too used, you may want to add more or do a full change.
Consult your owners manual for what kind of fluid your car uses, how much of it you need, and how often you should be changing it. If you have any questions beyond what your owners manual can answer, try calling your local dealership or posting on an online forum for your car. Other owners are almost always willing to help.
Many cars are very specific as to what fluids can be used with them. When it comes to oil, make sure you're buying the correct viscosity as well as a recommended brand for your car.
If your vehicle is known to burn oil or leak fluids, it's not a bad idea to carry some of those fluids around with you in your car. Couldn't hurt!
Cars today are equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems, but only some of them deliver precise PSI readings or tell you which tire is low. Keep a tire pressure gauge handy and make sure your readings aren't too off from what's recommended in your owner's manual.
When you're checking your tires, also give a look at how your tread is doing. If tread is low or uneven, this could change how your car handles and tracks, especially in bad weather conditions.
A common trick to monitor tread depths is to put a penny inside a tread and see if you can see Lincoln's full head. If his full head is easily visible, you probably need new tires. Don't skimp!
Orange and red lights flying up between your gauges could mean anything from a loose gas cap to a serious problem, but it's still important to get whatever it is taken care of as soon as possible.
Owner's manuals almost always have explanations for what each weird little signal represents, but if it's something a little more cryptic, you may want to either plug your own diagnostic tool in if you have it, bring your car to a mechanic, or bring it to your car's dealership service center. The internet can also be quite helpful in this respect.
Weird and unusual noises can also be hints that something isn't right. Weird clanks, whines, whisps, rattles should be checked out as quickly as possible.
If you purchased a car second-hand, or for whatever other reason you're not receiving recall notifications, you can find most safety recalls by looking up a car's VIN here or by contacting your local dealership.
A stack of organised service receipts for your car can increase resale value and also help you keep better track of when and what services have to be done.
Also, if the same issue goes wrong with your car after you just got it fixed, you still have the receipt and can go back to the mechanic who fixed it to get the problem straightened out.
If you leave your car sitting for an extended period of time outside, things can get wonky.
Rubber parts (seals, belts, and tires) can dry up, rust can accumulate, fluids can begin to leak, and animals might even begin to consider it their home. Don't let your car become a raccoon den! If you need to put your car on pause for an extended period, make sure it gets turned on and given some use at least once per month or so. If you can make it happen more frequently, all the better.
Sounds obvious, right? But washing your car isn't just about shining up your ride. Leaving dirt on your car for an extended period of time can ruin your paint. If you live in an area where salt is used to melt snow and ice on highways, the situation is even worse: that stuff can outright corrode parts of your vehicle.
Road salt speeds up the oxidation process and can eat away at the metals and paint on your car. If you wash your car regularly, this is less likely to happen. Simple!
Most new and certified pre-owned cars today are sold with factory warranties which can take care of many of the issues you might experience with your car, without you having to drop any cash. If your car is still pretty new and you fear something's wrong with it, give your dealer a ring and ask them to check your warranty status.
You might even end up with a free loaner car while yours is in the shop.
Your car's maintenance schedule should be your best friend if you want to keep your car in good shape. It will usually give you time allotments and mileage marks for when you should get your car serviced -- and what it needs when the time comes.
A car's maintenance schedule is almost always hidden within the owner's manual.
There are dozens of car-specific forums on the internet where whatever question you have on your car has likely been asked and answered hundreds of times. Can't find the answer? Don't be afraid to make an account and post up your question.
Forums can be scary, but they're a place for enthusiasts and people with questions to come together and help each other. Car dealership service advisers can also be a helpful resource when seeking for an answer for your car problem.