Whether you hope to prevent significant car repairs in the future or just want to keep your vehicle running smoothly, preventative maintenance is essential to your vehicle and your wallet. While it isn’t an active way to save money, it can help in the long-term so that you have fewer repairs that are significant issues. Learning what to do, when, and how to do it is the first step to keeping your car running well for longer.
While most people skip this step, giving your car a visual inspection is the first step to ensuring that your car is running well. Of course, a visual inspection isn’t going to catch everything, and you may not know what to look for, but you can tell if the tires are going flat, if there’s fluid pooling under the car, and much more.
Make sure that the lights are working, check the tire pressure once a month, and listen for odd sounds while driving. You can also check the tire tread to help you determine when to replace them. If you notice anything strange or off, you can always go to a trusted mechanic to have it checked.
While your mechanic should check the fluid levels and top them off during a routine oil change, it is also essential that you learn how to check your own fluids. You don’t necessarily have to learn how to change the power steering, antifreeze, or coolant, but learning where the reservoirs are and how to check them is essential. That way, you can take it to a mechanic for a refill and ensure that it’s filled after an oil change if that is promised.
Many times, the reservoirs have dipsticks or gauges that are pulled out to see how much liquid is on the dipstick versus how much is supposed to be there (usually marked by a notch).
This can also be a good indication of a leak; if you notice it’s low and fill it up, it shouldn’t be low again the next month. You can talk to a mechanic to determine what to do.
While you may not be able to inspect these things yourself, you should ask a mechanic to do it for you. Most people recommend that you replace the timing belt at 60,000 miles and the serpentine belt around 40,000 miles. However, your owner’s manual should give specific mileage markers. If not, you can go by these general rules or try to find the manual online.
If it’s due, your mechanic can check them and help you determine if they need to be replaced. If they look to be in good shape, your mechanic may recommend that you don’t replace them yet and may schedule another check in a few months.
Most people already know that checking and changing the oil regularly is essential. Whether you do it at 3,000 miles or three months, you must ensure that your car has enough oil. You can pull out the dipstick to see the level and color of the oil. You might want to ask your mechanic to check it the first few times and watch so that you know what to look for and where the reservoir is located.