March 1, 2006
Proper car care can save you thousands of dollars a year. If you stick to the right maintenance routine and quick do-it-yourself check ups, you can prevent breakdowns and make your car last longer – or even resell it at a good amount when the time comes.
The key to prolonging the useful life of your car is prevention – plug the leaks and replace parts that need to be replaced even before they break down. Identifying and quickly fixing a problem while it is small keeps it from being overwhelming and saves you a lot of money in the long run.
Change your oil every three months (or every 3,000 miles). This is the general rule unless you car manufacturer says otherwise. Do not neglect this seemingly trivial maintenance task. Keep in mind that failure to change your oil will increase the wear and tear on your engine, leading to other problems.
Regularly check your transmission fluid, your brake fluid, your power steering fluid, and your coolant. These fluids make up the lifeblood of your car, and checking them frequently can help nip small problems in the bud, saving you from breakdowns and expensive repairs. Different cars require different kinds and amounts of fluid. Read your manufacturer’s handbook to find out more.
Keep your batteries new. Your battery is your most important power source – if it fails you, you will get stranded. This is why it is important to always check it with every oil change. Keep your battery clean with a mixture of baking soda and water. Make sure that the cables are corrosion-free and are securely attached. Remember that most disposable batteries last for only over a year – after that span of time, you should replace your battery.
A car is like a patient – it needs a good doctor. If you are not very handy with cars, have one official mechanic service your car regularly. The mechanic will be able to develop a familiarity with your car and be able to recommend the correct preventive and diagnostic care it needs. What’s more, you can probably get a lot of discounts from mechanics if you are a repeat customer!
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