Avoiding Auto Repairs: 8 Preventative Maintenance Procedures To Preserve The Life Of Your Car

Just as it is essential to have regular checkups performed by your doctor to assess your health and to catch any issues before they become too serious, it is absolutely necessary to perform preventative maintenance procedures on your car to identify smaller problems before they become more serious issues.  There are 8 basic car maintenance tips that you should perform on your car to not only preserve the life of your vehicle but to prevent more costly auto repairs in the future.

Check And Get Your Oil Changed

Getting your oil changed is one of the most important things that you should do for your car.  Check your car's owners manual to find out how often you should get it changed. 

Even if your car hasn't reached the mileage, as detailed in your manual, you should check your oil periodically using the dipstick or gauge in your car.   In your manual, read to be sure that you are using the right kind of oil for your car to avoid voiding your warranty or future damages.

Test Your Battery And Clean Terminals

When checking your battery you should:

  • look at the battery terminals to make sure that they are clean and do not have any mineral build up on the contact points (if there is a lot of corrosion present, clean this with a brush and cleaning solution that you can find at your local auto store)
  • check for any leaks
  • test your battery's charge using a handheld battery tester (do this periodically or when your vehicle is having trouble starting)

Replace Windshield Wipers

In addition to cleaning your windshield, inside and out, be sure to replace the wipers if you are noticing streaks on your windows when the water is being wiped away.  Windshield wipers are very inexpensive and fairly easy to replace.  When you replace your wipers, remove them from the vehicle and take them to the store with you to ensure that you purchase the correct model.

Refill Or Replace Your Fluids

The notch on the fluid dipstick allows you check if any of the fluid levels are low.  Some of the basic oils that you should be checking are:

  • engine oil
  • transmission fluid
  • collant
  • brake fluid
  • power steering fluid
  • wiper fluid
  • antifreeze

If you are unsure where the fluids or located, you can request to have your fluids checked and refilled/changed at your next oil change.

Pay Attention To Your Tires

Periodically, you should check the tread on your tires to make sure that you have enough tread to keep your car from slipping off the road.  Using a penny turned head down, stick it between your tire tread.  If you see all of Lincoln's head, your tires do not have enough tread and need to be replaced.

Additionally, you should rotate your tires to help:

  • the tires to wear more evenly
  • keep your car driving smoothly
  • the tires last longer

Look in your car's manual to see how often you should have your tires rotated.

Check And Replace Your Engine Air Filter

Your owner's manual will tell you how often you need to replace your engine filter, however, if you drive in a lot of stop-and-go traffic, you may need to replace it sooner.  To check the filter:

  • find the filter which should be located between the engine and the front grill of the car
  • remove the covering over the filter (in older car models the filter cover is circular, and in newer models the filter cover is shaped like a square or rectangle)
  • hold the filter up to the light to see if the the light is shining clearly through the grills of the filter
  • if it is dirty, you can either clean it by tapping it against the ground, to remove the dust, or replace the filter with a new one

Inspect Your Timing and Serpentine Belts

When your manual says that your belts should be replaced, visit a mechanic to have him or her inspect the belts.  If they are still in good shape, you can probably drive the car past the mileage that your manual details, however, if the belts are worn out, you should get them replaced.

Perform Regular Car Inspections

Regular car inspections, that you perform yourself ,are essential in identifying smaller problems that could turn into bigger issues.  Some of the things that you should check periodically are:

  • the working condition of the headlights and taillights
  • any strange sounds coming from inside or outside of the car
  • the air pressure of the tires (keep a pressure gauge in the glove box and check the pressure monthly)

If up to this point you have not been doing preventative maintenance procedures on your car, don't worry or feel that all is lost.  Simply visit your local auto mechanic or auto repair shop to have a full inspection or service done on your car.  Once any of your car's issues are fixed, you can begin now to perform these 8 maintenance tasks on your car to assist in avoiding expensive repairs in the future.