Getting your very own car for the first time can be exhilarating. You’ll love going on drives to explore wherever it takes you.
Especially as a first-timer, you also need to be aware of things that are important to maintain the condition of your car. Regular maintenance is critical in order to prevent breakdowns and spending big money to fix them later on.
Here are 9 things you need to pay attention to in order to keep your car in optimal condition for the long run.
1. Check and Replace the Air Filter Regularly
Your car has an air filtration system that cleans contaminants and debris, providing clean air in your car. This filter, if not cleaned for a long time, will become clogged with various waste and pollution. This will at least cause two damages to your engine:
- First, it will increase the risk of reduced airflow due to the blockage of the air filter. This blockage causes the engine to work harder than it should . This can cause inefficiencies and decrease fuel economy.
- Second, if the debris and other contaminants are not cleared out, they can find their way into the engine. This will cause wearing down on the car’s metal parts. Continuous damage can decrease the engine’s lifespan and cause costly repair fees.
Manufacturers usually recommend you replace the car’s air filter every 6,000 miles.
2. Check On the Car’s Battery
Car batteries commonly last for 3 to 5 years. This lifespan varies on driving habits and the temperature of the environment. Schedule regular battery charge tests after your battery reaches three years old. Many mechanics will even notify you when they expect your battery to need changing later on, once they know where it stands. This is important to prevent a sudden breakdown. Keeping a healthy battery means increasing the efficiency of your car’s engine and reducing pollution as an engine that runs on steady power will release fewer chemicals into the atmosphere.
3. Replace Old Spark Plugs
Spark plugs in a car are responsible for the ignition of your engine. As you turn your key in the ignition and press the gas, this tiny element will ignite a mixture of fuel and air that makes it possible to move the pistons in the car engine. However, spark plugs burn out over time. That’s why it’s critical to change them every once in a while. Worn out spark plugs cause the engine to work harder and results in lower efficiency of the engine. If your car is pushing to do extra work, its lifespan will become shorter. You need to check your spark plugs regularly and have them changed before they completely burnt out.
4. Check Hoses and Belts Regularly
As your car engine works, it emits heat. This heat is monitored by the engine and prevented from becoming too hot by the cooling system. But over time, the exposure to heat damage increases the risk to belts and hoses. They can become dry and cracked, and even break. These belts are what move various elements of the engine and the hoses help carry fluids from one part to another. If they crack and break, this will severely damage your engine. During your scheduled maintenance, make sure that the technician checks belts and hoses specifically.
5. Replace the Wiper Blades
Wiper blades are partly made from rubber. Heat will degrade this rubber part over time. During summer or in places with higher temperatures, keep an eye on your wiper blades. Experts’ recommendation is to replace your wiper blades every 6 to 12 months. If rain or snow starts smudging and smearing under the blades rather than being wiped clean, it’s time for new blades.
6. Change Oil Regularly
An appropriate analogy for motor oil is that it’s the car’s blood. The oil, like blood, picks up and carries away any debris it encounters. Oil also helps lubricate the engine and protects the moving parts from heat and friction. As the oil collects debris and heats and cools repeatedly, the effectiveness of your oil degrades. Dirty, thick oil hurts your engine. This is why oil should be changed about every 3,000 miles or 3 months. Check your owners’ manual for the recommended interval for your specific car. The older your car is, the more frequent oil change required.
7. Replace Brake Pads
Brake pads are what stop your car from moving. They utilize a high amount of friction in their daily use, which can mean they break down fast. It will be extremely dangerous to drive a car with worn-down brake pads. Thus, it is critical to have your brake pads replaced annually to avoid damage to the engine, high repairing cost, and most importantly- accidents.
8. Take Care of Your Tires
Your tires are rolling on all kinds of surfaces, at various angles and in different weather, with ideal air pressure sometimes, but not all the time. All this variety leads to uneven wear & tear on your tires and slight changes in their alignment over time. If your tires are rotated and aligned ever 6 to 12 months, you can keep them wearing evenly, and enjoy greater safety and longer lasting tread.
To ensure good longevity of your tires, you have to keep up with proper tire inflation. This will also reduce the risk of tire blowouts at high speeds and possibly save you from experiencing car accidents. Improper tire pressure will also affect your fuel economy. Find the recommended tire pressure written on the sidewall of your tire in PSI and follow that guideline.
9. Know a Good Mechanic
Once you suspect something is wrong with your car, it’s almost too late to do your research and find the best place to take it. Not knowing where to go or who to trust can dangerously delay your taking action. So, when you get your first car, it’s important to schedule an inspection with a reliable shop near you, like Lafayette German Car Repair, and establish a relationship that may come in handy in the future. Knowing where to go when you need help makes driving much more relaxing, like it was meant to be.
Being a good driver is one thing, but it is even more important to pay attention to the quality of your car as a whole. And regular preventive maintenance will save you a lot of repair costs and increase the lifespan of your vehicle.