You wanted a driver license and you got one. Congratulations. You wanted a car to drive and now have one. Good for you again. Now that you have a car, you’ll want to service it regularly it, so it will run well and take you where you want to go.
Maintaining a car isn’t so hard if you know the basic steps. A properly maintained car runs more efficiently, which means it uses less gas and costs you less money to operate.
We offer some car maintenance tips below, but the first thing you should do is spend some time with your car owner’s manual. Right, we know you don’t need more assigned reading, but your car owner’s manual is worth it.
The owner’s manual lists the mileage intervals at which to change the oil and perform routine service on your vehicle to keep it running well. Your car owner’s manual contains useful information. Don’t ignore it.
The easiest and most useful thing you can do to take care of any motor vehicle is change its oil regularly. Most car manufacturers recommend an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Use the grade of motor oil your car’s manufacturer recommends. A different grade of motor oil can lower your gas mileage.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, learning how to change the oil in your car is an easy way to save money. If you’d rather not, there are plenty of garages that will take care of it for you. Many will even put a sticker on your windshield to remind you of when the next change is due.
If you change your own motor oil, collect and store the used oil in a sturdy plastic container and take it to a recycling center. Dumping oil down storm drains or on the ground can contaminate ground water. Consider using refined oil in your vehicle.
If you get your oil changed at a garage, they’ll probably check your air filter as well. Recommendations about how often you should change your air filter vary. Some experts say every 3,000 miles or with every oil change, while some car manufacturers say you can go as long as 45,000 miles. Your owner’s manual will say, but you should make sure your car has a clean air filter. A dirty air filter can increase your car’s fuel consumption by as much as 10 percent.
Many quick-oil-change garages can take care of a lot of standard maintenance that your car needs. They’ll keep records of what’s been done for your car, and most can tap into your car’s computer to find out what maintenance is due. If you use the same shop regularly, they can keep your car on schedule.
Look for a maintenance shop that displays some kind of certification, like the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) seal. Certification indicates that some or all of the technicians meet basic standards of knowledge and competence in specific technical areas. Make sure the certifications are current, but remember that certification alone is no guarantee of good or honest work.
Even if you’re a regular at an auto maintenance center, you can protect yourself if you know a little about what your car needs.