Owning a car is a privilege, but it’s also a responsibility. It’s tempting to think of a vehicle as something you pay for and then only have to fill up with gas every once in a while. Unfortunately, like pets and family members, vehicles require love and attention too - just maybe a little bit less.
But you don’t need to be a car buff or a trained mechanic to take care of your car. Most vehicles are very reliably made these days, and it’s only the basic maintenance that an owner should be concerned with. Here are some vehicle maintenance tips you should know even if you don’t care much about cars:
- Oil changes
This may sound obvious, but you have to change the oil in your vehicle. Well, YOU don’t have to change it, but you need to make sure someone does. Mileage recommendations will vary from vehicle to vehicle and will depend on whether or not you use synthetic oil, but your owner’s manual will give you the recommended mileage range. Don’t forget!
- Windshield washer fluid
Windshield washer fluid is one of those things that you don’t think about until you really need it. Whether you’re driving in really crappy conditions and need to spray it for visibility or use it to help defrost your windshield, wiper fluid is essential and very easy to fill. Even someone who has never changed a tire can easily top it off.
- Tire pressure
Too many vehicle owners don’t check their tire pressure regularly. You should check it at least once every few weeks. Tire pressure will fluctuate when it’s hot or cold and can cause a decrease in your gas mileage or even risk a blowout on the highway. Keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. Your car will thank you.
- Air filters
Mind your air filters. Your car should have two air filters that you need to monitor: the engine air filter, and the cabin air filter. These need to be replaced between every 15,000 and 30,000 miles depending on your vehicle and where you tend to drive it. Air filters aren’t expensive, but many people unnecessarily forget about them.
- Check your rubbers
There are two “rubber” parts of your car that you should always keep an eye on. The first is your tires, which you should regularly check for tread wear. When the tread gets too low, you need to change your tires or risk driving around in unsafe conditions. Your tires are literally what keep your car on the road, so don’t neglect them. The second is your windshield wipers, which are easy to swap out and should always be in top shape to keep you safe if it starts raining or snowing.
Brakes are no joke. Read your owner’s manual to understand when your brakes need to be changed and don’t ignore recommendations from mechanics during your vehicle inspections. And if you hear your brakes start to make noises, feel strange, or anything else that seems abnormal, drive to your mechanic or dealership immediately and have them checked. Your vehicle’s brakes are nothing to play with.
- Turn your radio down!
We all love blasting our favorite music while driving, whether it’s Rage Against the Machine or Taylor Swift. But make it a habit to turn the radio off completely sometimes so that you can listen to your car and see if it’s making any noises that seem out of place. If you’ve always got your favorite music turned all the way up, you might miss some indicators that something is wrong with your ride.