Whether you own or lease the vehicle that you drive, it’s your responsibility to not only operate it safely but to also maintain it properly. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the importance of this. In fact, if you’re like many other busy individuals, it’s often too easy to procrastinate, forget, or simply skip out on routine vehicle maintenance. Even recommendations that can save money can go unheeded, particularly if you don’t appreciate the need and benefits of preventative car care. Saving money is one of the major benefits of routine maintenance. It keeps your vehicle operating as it should and reduces the risk of both minor and major repairs, potential accidents, and the resulting injuries or damage to property. Keeping your car well-maintained can also save you money at the pump. Ultimately, when a car is well cared for, it has greater value and you’re more likely to keep it longer, replacing it only when you’re ready to do so.
So, what exactly should you be doing to keep your vehicle in top shape?
Read Your Car’s Manual
If you haven’t already, reach into your glove compartment, then pull out and read the manual that came with your car. While this may seem a bit basic, car manuals are often overlooked. They are invaluable because they tell you everything that you need to know about your vehicle and the specific care for its make and model. This includes the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and what you should or should not be doing to protect your vehicle and its warranty.
Check and Change Your Oil and Fluids
The engine fluid or oil in your car can cause a number of serious problems for you and your vehicle if it gets too low or too old. Check the engine oil to ensure that there is enough and to look at the quality and color of it. This can help guide you in when to add oil or if there is an issue that needs to be addressed. Ideally, you should change your oil according to the owner’s manual; however, how one uses their vehicle and the type of engine oil used can affect how frequently changes are needed.
Some of the other essential fluids that will need to be changed and checked are the engine coolant and the transmission fluid, which lubricates the transmission. Have your brake fluid inspected and changed every two to five years, depending on the manual for your vehicle’s make, model, and year. All of the above fluids break down over time and can be exposed to dirt, water, and other elements found in the environment. This causes a change in composition and how they perform, which may ultimately result in the need for expensive repairs.
Rotate and Align Tires
Irregular wear on the tires occurs when they are not rotated or when they are out of alignment. Tires with irregular wear will increasingly become uneven, lose tread, and cause problems such as vibration, pulling, and decreased fuel efficiency. Drivers should rotate their tires according to the instructions in the vehicle’s manual or every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Mechanics may offer a number of recommendations for wheel alignment, ranging from every six months to three years. Others recommend having them aligned every time new tires are purchased or when tires are rotated. Reducing irregular wear helps save money at the pump and eliminates the need to replace tires sooner than you would need to under normal circumstances.
Check Tire Pressure
A damaged or flat tire will impact how your vehicle operates and can lead to an accident that harms yourself or others. As a driver, you’ll want to check the tire pressure to ensure that they’re not over- or underinflated. Overinflated tires wear out more quickly, while under-inflation impacts how a car handles. Improperly inflated tires also increase the risk of a blowout while driving. Checking them frequently helps save you money by prolonging the life of your tires and by preventing a potential accident. Tire pressure should be checked once a month when the tires are cool and have not been driven for at least three hours.
Check Your Tire Tread
The tread on tires helps them to grip the road, which prevents slipping and spin-outs from occurring. While you’ll need to replace tires with low tread depth, checking them regularly will save you money by preventing accidents that are more likely to occur if you’re driving on smooth or low-tread tires. Inspecting tires monthly will alert you to tread wear issues. To make it simpler to remember, inspect the tread of your tires while you’re checking the pressure.
Check Your Engine’s Spark Plugs
Spark plugs are a necessary component for starting your vehicle. As their name suggests, they help create the spark that gets your vehicle running. When they’re worn out or otherwise in need of replacing, it’s more difficult to start your car, and faulty spark plugs also impact acceleration and decrease your vehicle’s performance. A bad spark plug may cause stress to crucial parts of the vehicle and can decrease fuel efficiency. These are problems that can cost you money and time. Change the spark plugs according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, and take your car to be checked if any of the above problems should occur, as there is a risk of engine damage if spark plugs are not replaced when necessary.
Properly caring for your vehicle can help extend the life of your car but, as the car ages, it may require more costly repairs. Should car repairs add up to more than you can afford, it is important to consider all of the different lending options available to you. Urgent car repairs can’t wait for the lengthy bank loan application process and we understand that it may be difficult to be approved for a traditional bank loan. TitleMax alternative lending products, including title loans, title pawns, and personal installment loans, by be the solution you need to make ends meet when emergency car repairs need to be dealt with.