Keeping up with car maintenance can be a real drag – changing your oil, rotating your tires, it’s never a fun process and certainly can be pricey! However, being preventative with your car maintenance can help you avoid major necessary repairs down the road and can go a long way in curbing the repair costs of your vehicle maintenance. We’ve rounded up 10 basic car maintenance tips & tricks to help keep your car in tip top shape, save you some change, and keep you safe along the way.
1. Check Your Spare Tire
Your spare tire is just as important as the four that keep you on the road on a day-to-day basis. The last thing you need or want is to discover your spare is flat and your only option is to call a tow truck (cha-ching!). Spare yourself the cost of a tow and test the air pressure of your tires (and your spare) once a month or at least every couple months.
2. Change Your Oil
Oil problems can cause some of the costliest car maintenance issues to fix if you don’t address it. It’s better to spend $50 to get the oil changed, then put it off and risk wearing out your engine. Try and change your oil every 5,000 to 10,000 kilometres, or whatever is recommended by your manufacturer.
3. Don’t Skip Out On Your Brake Pads
Hearing squeaking when you hit the brakes or notice you have to push a little harder on the breaks to get them engaged? If so, your brake pads could be on their last leg and will need to be replaced. While a new set for all wheels can be a little pricier, it’s certainly less than what it’ll cost your insurance to replace that Lexus you risk rear-ending.
4. Replace Your Air Filter
Your car’s air filter works to keep pollutants from coming through the vents in your car – i.e., making it pretty important for your health so you’ll want to treat it well! Plus, using an old long past its life can lead to major problems for your AC – and speaking from experience, you don’t want that. Try and ensure you’re replacing your air filer every 12 months or so.
5. Check Your Coolant
If you avoid checking your coolant, you run the risk of serious corrosion inside your vehicle. The coolant affects everything from the heater and the AC to the air conditioner and radiator. To ensure optimal usage, check your coolant twice a year – once before the warm weather, and once again before the cold weather kicks in.
6. Get Familiar with Your Owner’s Manual
Every car comes with an owner’s manual, which covers all the features and components inside and under the hood. Most manual’s even hold important information on that specific make and model which can include suggested maintenance schedule covering all parts and the fluids that need to be replaced on a regular(ish) basis. Your owner’s manual will also outline all the safety measures to take as you work through tuning up your car, so make sure you get familiar with what’s in there.
7. Invest in Your Tires
Tire inspection should be a semi-regular activity when you own a car. A simple walkaround can provide clues on whether any of the four are lower in pressure than they should be. It’s always a good idea to keep a basic tire pressure gauge in your car because it’s a low-tech way to tell how much air is actually inside each one. When it comes to tires, your treads are also something to keep in mind. The basic “Toonie Test” is a great trick to help you know if new tires are needed.
8. Replace Your Windshield Wiper Blades
The last thing anyone needs is to be driving down a highway and you can’t see because your windshield wipers aren’t working properly. Wipers can certainly take a beating, especially if you live in an area that is prone to different weather events like snow. Once you notice leftover water streaking across the windshield after every swipe, it may be time to swap them out for new ones.
9. Lighten the Load of Your Keychain
Here’s one you may not have thought of – would you guess that actually having too much weight hanging from your keychain may actually be causing harm to your ignition? That’s right, the constant motion of it swinging back and forth can eventually wear out your ignition switch, meaning you’ll have to replace it. If you try and turn the key and it seems to stick, or if you have trouble removing it, this may be an early sign that it’s beginning to fail.
10. Protect Your Paintwork with a Coat of Wax
A car is certainly not cheap by any means, so why wouldn’t you want to do everything you can to preserve it as long as possible? Car wax acts basically like a buffer between the outside world and the surface of your vehicle. It protects the paint from things like scratches, UV rays, road grime, and tree sap– all of which can be very damaging. Keeping your car waxed will have it looking new and protect its resale value down the line. Experts suggest that you should be applying a new coat of wax ideally every three months, but twice a year will do!