It’s easy to lose track of the maintenance of your car. You’ve got things to do, kids to drive around, groceries to buy, and car maintenance can get pushed to the back of your mind.
Here’s a list of 23 MUST DO car maintenance tips that will keep your car in tip top shape in between major services.
- Break in new cars carefully – If you’re driving a new car there is a break in period. This step is incredibly important and can’t be overlooked. If you are too hard on the engine it will seriously lower the life span of your car and cause you a heap of headache in the future. When buying a new car, make sure you’re aware of all break in procedures so that you can follow the steps to the tee.
- Buy good gas and don’t allow the tank to get too empty – Not all gasoline was created equal. Make sure you purchase gas from a reputable company so that you don’t get stale or dirty fuel. Also, if you can avoid using the bottom 1/4 (quarter) tank of fuel you will maintain a cleaner fuel system. Condensation and sediment can build up in your gas tank and if you run your car almost to empty you increase the risk of this sediment being picked up by your fuel filter.
- Don’t fill up at a gas station that is being refilled – If you’re looking for a fillup, don’t buy gasoline from a station that has a tanker truck in the lot. This means they are filling the tanks and this causes the sediment in the tanks to be kicked up and enter the gas station system. It’s best to come back the following day or to find another station.
- Park in the shade – This car tip will help to keep UV rays off of your paint job and extend the life and colour of your car’s paint.
- Clean the inside regularly – Don’t just wash the outside of your car, clean the inside too. Give your car a vacuum and clean the dash board and instrument panel. Use a protectant like Armourall to protect your dashboard from the sun.
- Fix weatherstripping right away – Bad weatherstripping can cause leaks, which can cause mold, which is almost impossible to fully clean. Make sure if you see bad weatherstripping on your car to fix it right away. It will only get worse if you leave it.
- Maintain your leather – If you have leather seats, buy a leather conditioner and use it regularly on your leather interior. This will prevent drying or cracking and will extend the colour and softness of your leather.
- Protect your paint – When washing your car, be sure to use a wax at the end. This will not only add to the shine, but protect your paint from the sun. Also, don’t use your car as a shelf… everyone needs a place to lean or put stuff sometimes, but it shouldn’t be your car.
- Fix windsheild chips – If you fix windshield chips right away they can’t turn into full blown cracks. Usually you can get chips filled and fixed at a glass shop for pretty cheap… and it only takes a few minutes so you really have no reason not to.
- Keep an old blanket handy – An old blanket in your car can be handy for a number of things. If you have to transport something on the roof, or if you’re placing something dirty in your trunk you can protect your carpet, paint or interior.
- Wash in winter – You should definitely wash your car in the winter and not only the summer. Winter driving will create a lot of build up of salt, dirt and grime which can hurt your paint, cause rust and ruin your wheels. Wash your car just as regularly in the winter as the summer.
- Keep tire valve caps on – It’s easy to lose these buggers, but if you do your tires can slowly (or quickly) lose air and leave you stranded, cause you fuel mileage or worse, cause an accident. Tire pressure is very important, and tire valve caps help to maintain it.
- Rotate your tires – If your car has tires that can be rotated, they should be regularly. Unless you have high performance tires, you should be able to rotate them to maintain tread wear and increase the life of your tires.
- keep your tires properly inflated – Even a small drop in tire pressure can cause major drops in fuel economy. Plus it can damage your tires, increase tread wear and even cause a blowout. To make sure you’re not spending too much at the pump, or putting yourself in danger, make sure your tires are properly inflated. The correct tire pressure will be printed on the side of your tires and most tire shops will fill your tires at no cost.
- Check for moisture in airpumps – If you are filling the air in your tires and you notice that there is moisture coming from the air pump you need to let the shop owner know. The air pump will need to be drained. If they cannot or will not drain the water, find another shop with a pump that will not fill your tires with moisture. The excess moisture can cause pressure problems and even corrode your wheels from the inside.
- Clean your wheels – Your wheels see a lot of dirt, grime, water and use. Maintain the finish on your wheels properly by cleaning them when you wash your car. Most modern wheels have a clear coat finish like the paint job on your car and can be maintained in the same way.
- Check your wheel alignment – An incorrect wheel alignment can cause the car to not drive straight or wear your tires excessively. In order to maintain your car’s tires and make sure your car is safe to drive, have your alignment checked when servicing your car.
- Check engine oil regularly – Ever second fillup or so you should be checking the oil level in your car. Low or dirty oil can cause excess wear on your engine and a multitude of problems down the road. Engine oil is VITAL to your car’s engine and must be taken seriously.
- Change your oil frequently – Engine oil will collect dirt and grime from the inside of your engine. By changing it regularly you are removing the dirt and maintaining a clean engine that will last longer and run better.
- Change oil, air and fuel filters regularly – Don’t forget to change the filters in your engine. Each of the power train’s filters will effect engine performance and an excess buildup of dirt in the filters will drastically decrease the efficiency of the engine.
- Check spark plugs – Checking spark plugs is necessary once every two oil changes. They should be properly gapped by a technician and clean of any buildup. A lot of engine problems can be spotted early on by checking your spark plugs and changing if necessary.
- Fuel injector cleaner – Fuel injector cleaner will help to maintain the flow of fuel into your engine cylinders. Dirty fuel injectors can cause low fuel economy or even damage or fire in the engine compartment. If you have a fuel injected engine, every 6 months add a bottle of fuel injector cleaner to a full tank of gas.
- Run your AC unit in winter – By running your A/C unit in the winter you make sure that it stays in working condition. If the AC unit is not running for too long, it can cause problems when you go to use it in the following summer.
If you have any additional car maintenance tips to add to this list, be sure to let us know in the comments below.