Car Maintenance 101: 9 Best Practices for Maintaining Your Vehicle

Keep your car running like new for years to come with proper care and maintenance. Learn about the best practices for maintaining your vehicle here.



Are you the proud owner of a new or used vehicle? Congratulations! Proper care will help to keep your dream car running like new.

Maybe this year's resolution was to finally invest a little time and money into the vehicle you've owned for some time. After all, you've had it for a few years, and you want to make sure it runs for years to come.

If you expect your vehicle to perform every time you put the key in the ignition, you'll need to remain diligent about maintaining your vehicle. If you're not quite sure where to start, keep reading-- we've created a guide to keep you informed.

1. Check Your Tires

Checking your tire pressure is simple, and one of the easiest ways to ensure your car is driving safely. Check the car manual for the expected tire pressure of your vehicle, and consider rotating your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

2. Change Your Oil

For any car owner, this one is a no-brainer.

Oil performs a few important functions for your engine:

  1. Slows the buildup of friction

  2. Ensures the engine does not overheat

  3. Keeps the engine clean of dirt and debris

There are two types of oil you'll need to consider: synthetic and conventional oil. The type of oil you choose will depend on the recommendation of your manual, and the type of climate in which you live. Generally speaking, however, synthetic oil can often keep you on the road longer in between oil changes.

If you ever happen to check your oil and notice that its level is below the minimum mark, feel free to top it off.

3. Check Your Fluids

Most fluid levels can be checked on your own. Checking brake fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, and windshield washer fluid will ensure that your car is running optimally.

4. Change Your Timing Belt

A timing belt coordinates pistons and valves and is crucial to the function of the engine. If a timing belt is broken or malfunctioning, s

  • Clicking noises coming from the engine

  • Leaking oil

  • Misfiring engine

Checking the belt should not take long, and will help to give you peace of mind. Take a peek every year.

5. Change Out Your Filters

There are a few types of air filters you'll want to consider when scheduling car maintenance. These filters each have their own distinct purpose but are generally used to clean contaminants and debris out of their respective components.

Air Filter

The air filter is responsible for cleaning the air being used by the engine. If you check the air filter and it seems dirty, you can attempt to clean it. If this doesn't work (usually after 12,000 miles), you'll want to have this replaced.

Oil Filter

The oil filter does just what it sounds: removes waste and protects the engine from harmful fragments in the oil.

The oil filter should be replaced every or every other oil change-- depending on the manufacturer's recommendation. This can be a simple process that most services will include during your change.

Fuel Filter

The fuel filter keeps dirt and other particles from entering your car's fuel. Because this filter can clog and interfere with vehicle starting and performance, it's important to keep an eye on the replacement cadence.

6. Replace Your Battery if Corroded

Unfortunately, your car battery will not last forever. Corrosion is prone to vehicles that have been unused for long periods of time, or in the hot summer months. If you notice corrosion forming around the terminals of your battery, you can clean the corrosion with baking soda. Otherwise, it's recommended to replace your battery regularly, as they typically last an average of 3-5 years.

7. Brake Maintenance

Some tasks are best left to the experts. Before winter hits, we recommend you hire an expert to do the following, per the cadence in your user manual:

  1. Check brake pads and rotators (replace if necessary)

  2. Flush your brake fluid

  3. Bleed the brake lines

Any burning or squeaks should be attended to as soon as possible. Don't wait for your brakes to fail!

8. Clean Your Car

Of all of the car maintenance tips, this one should be the easiest to remember.

Keeping both the interior and exterior of your car clean is not just for aesthetic purposes-- it protects the surface integrity of your vehicle as it comes into contact with salts and other chemicals in the environment.

Try to vacuum the interior as much as realistically possible, and remove any trash at the end of the day.

Depending on where you live and the amount of salt used on the roads, you should wash the exterior of your car 1-3 times a month. If you're in a hurry, cleaning all mirrors and the windshield will at least improve the visibility all year round.

Our advice? Maintain the cleanliness of your car as if you're always about to pick up your mother for dinner.

9. Don't Wait for Check Engine Light to Turn Off

Trust me on this one.

Waiting days (or even weeks) to see if an issue will resolve itself is just asking for trouble. While it could very likely be tied to something minor—like a malfunctioning sensor—you don't want to get caught with a bum transmission.

This goes for any of the warning light indicators. Your engine temperature light, battery charge warning light, and oil pressure light are all crucial indicators of vehicle performance.

Maintaining Your Vehicle

While the necessary repairs and replacements will happen when they need to, getting on a regular maintenance cadence can help keep potential issues in check. Here's what we recommend:

  • Tire pressure check - every-other gas fill-up

  • Tire rotation - every 5,000-10,000 miles

  • Oil changes - every 3,000-5,000 miles depending on oil and car type

  • Transmission fluid replacement - every 50,000-100,000 miles

  • Coolant - every 2-3 years

  • Brake fluid - every 2 years

  • Air filter changes - every 12,000 miles

  • Timing belt inspection - annually

  • Brakes system inspection - every 7,000 miles or during tire rotation

  • Brake fluid flush - every 2 years

  • Battery replacement - every 3 years

Remember-- this is just general guidance. You'll always want to refer to your vehicle manual for any model-specific car maintenance recommendations.

Schedule Service Today

Maintaining your vehicle can become a simple, regularly anticipated task-- a responsibility that is almost second nature. Getting regular oil changes, tire and fluid refills and mechanical inspections can keep you from experiencing a nasty surprise while on the road.

Don't worry-- we don't expect you to do all of this yourself. Find a trusted mechanic to help you with this part of car ownership. To schedule service or get a repair estimate, make an appointment today. You won't want to wait this time!

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