1. Check and Fill Your Fluids
The lifeblood of your vehicle is the engine oil. If you neglect every other maintenance tip here, make sure you are regularly checking the oil. Very low or dirty oil can cause severe damage to your engine.
Locate the engine oil dipstick. Slide it out and wipe the dipstick off with a clean cloth. Reinsert it back inside, then remove the dipstick again to view the oil level. The oil should be close to the maximum marking. If it is at, below, or near the minimum marking, carefully add the correct oil.
The oil cap should specify the recommended type of oil to use. If not, reference the car’s owner’s manual. Add only a few ounces at a time, and check it to make sure you aren’t adding too much.
You should also be checking your coolant, power steering fluid, and brake fluid periodically. It’s a good idea to have your coolant and brake fluid checked at least every other oil change. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, check your clutch fluid regularly too.
2. Change Your Oil
The general rule of thumb is to change your oil every three thousand miles when using conventional oil. If you are using synthetic oil, you can go a while longer between oil changes. Do not change back and forth from one to the other. If you decide to start using synthetic oil, then use it every time.
Synthetic oils are suitable for cars that have high mileage. If you change your oil consistently in three thousand mile intervals; however, conventional oil can be just as good. I’d prefer not to disturb what the engine is accustomed to using. If you are considering a change to synthetic oil, do your research and ask a trusted mechanic for advice.
3. Rotate Your Tires
If your tires are not balanced and rotated properly, it will affect the car’s performance. Imperfect weight distribution can result in poor handling. Tires are so crucial for ride quality and optimum gas mileage. You may be convinced your car needs a repair when the poor ride quality is related to your tires.
There are two types of imbalances that can affect handling and performance. Static imbalances create a vertical vibration of the steering wheel. A dynamic imbalance will cause the steering wheel to wobble from side to side. Balancing your tires can minimize forces causing a harsh ride. Also, make sure your tires have the correct tire pressure by checking them frequently.
4. Maintain the Battery
The battery of a car is occasionally taken for granted. You expect that whenever you get in your car and turn the key, it will start. All of that power to start your vehicle comes from the battery. If you neglect battery maintenance, someday soon, your car won’t start.
With modern cars, just about everything is controlled electronically. If your battery is weak, it causes more problems than a hard start. You should check the battery every so often. Pop off the covers on the top of the battery to check it. If there is water covering up the plates, it is okay.
Also, keep an eye out for corrosion on the terminals. If they are badly corroded, clean them off with a brush. Go to an auto parts store and have them test your battery every six months. Most of them will do it for free. Whenever you buy a new car battery, get a fresh one.
5. Change the Air Filters
A common misconception is that a dirty air filter can worsen fuel economy. The mass airflow sensor tells the computer how much fuel to give the engine. The amount of air movement determines the correct amount of fuel.
While a dirty air filter will not affect fuel economy, it can make your car run poorly, however. By changing your air filter regularly, your automobile will display an increase in performance consistently.
It’s also a good idea to change your cabin air filter about every two years. Even more frequently if you park under lots of trees or live in a very dusty area. The cabin air filter filters all the air inside the car.
A clogged cabin air filter can cause poor air conditioning and heater performance. Too much dust and debris clogging the cabin air filter can also cause foul odors. They are easy to change since they slide right out of the compartment. Most modern car cabin air filters are located beneath the glove box.