Why Your Car Needs TLC to Last for Years
Routine maintenance is vital for a car’s longevity. A little bit of extra attention, particularly for older cars, can mean less time at the mechanic and more time on the road. Check your owner’s manual each month to see if you’re due for any maintenance and visually monitor the following for signs of wear and tear:
- Fluids: Fluids must be at certain levels to keep your engine from overheating. Monitor the engine oil, power steering fluid, coolant and brake fluid and add more as needed (or replace completely as indicated in the owner’s manual), or have a qualified mechanic do the work if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Keep an eye on your windshield wiper fluid too; it won’t affect your car’s performance, but it sure helps improve your visibility.
- Belts and hoses: A snapped belt or a leaky hose could severely impair your car’s performance or even cause a complete breakdown. Be sure to change these components at the intervals identified in the owner’s manual. For good measure, have a mechanic inspect the belts and hoses each time you bring your car in for an oil change.
- Tires: It’s normal for tires to lose air over time, especially if it’s cold. Every month or two, use an air pressure gauge and refill your tires with air as needed to maintain the best level of performance and gas mileage. Additionally, rotating your tires at the manufacturer-recommended intervals helps them wear evenly, which prolongs their life and saves you money in the long run.
- Engine air filter: A dirty engine air filter won’t necessarily affect your gas mileage, but it can affect the time it takes for your car to accelerate. Change the air filter when it’s visibly dirty to maintain engine performance.
- Paint: A good car wash every few weeks is key to maintaining your car’s paint job. Dirt, bird droppings, road salt and other grime can oxidize paint and cause corrosion and rust. While many simply people enjoy a shiny, clean car, keep in mind that a pristine paint job can increase your car’s value when it comes time to sell it or trade it in.