Getting car insurance is a great step toward protecting your vehicle. With the right insurance, you can get coverage for damage that occurs from an accident or another unexpected event. However, there are steps you should take to prevent any damage from coming to your car in the first place.
Taking proper care of your car has multiple benefits. For one, it can save you a lot of money in car repairs. That’s right, it costs a lot less to get an oil change than it does to get a whole new engine. For two, taking care of your vehicle keeps you safer on the road. That means you’re less likely to get into an accident, less likely to use your insurance and less likely to see your rates go up.
Unfortunately, not all of us are well-educated in the world of car maintenance. If you’ve been neglecting your ride, find out what the basics of maintaining your vehicle are below:
First things first, if you’ve got problems with your engine, you’ve got big problems. Thankfully, your car can actually tell you when trouble is on the horizon with a little invention called the check engine light. In fact, your check engine light will be different depending on how severe the problem is.
Typically, if your check engine light is yellow, the problem should definitely be addressed soon, but you can finish your drive to work. If your light is flashing yellow, the problem may need immediate attention. Finally, if you see a steady red light, you should pull over and call for someone to look at it right away.
You can possibly prevent that check engine light by coming on at all by keeping up with your oil changes. Generally, you’ll want to make sure that you’re changing your oil according to the right amount of mileage. Your owner’s manual will give you some guidance on this, but generally, you can count on around four times a year. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re using the right kind of oil. Otherwise, your oil change may end up doing more damage than good.
Keeping up with your tires is very important. After all, you won’t get far without them. The first thing that you’ll want to keep in mind is your tire pressure. The amount of air in your tires can have a huge impact on your safety and even the lifetime of your tires. You’ll want to make sure your tires aren’t over or under-inflated. The easiest way to do this is with a pressure gauge when your tires are cold. So that means no checking right after driving. You’ll know if your tires are overfilled or under-filled by checking your make and model’s guidelines. This can be found in the vehicle itself or in your manual.
It’s also a best practice to rotate your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Why? Your front and rear tires will wear differently over time. Rotating their placement will allow them to wear at a more even and equal rate. It’s best to replace your tires when they wear to about 4/32 remaining tread depth.
Finally, you may want to consider purchasing a tire warranty. These warranties can cover a variety of issues related to your wheels including premature wear or damage that comes from haphazard road conditions.
You may have noticed a very prominent theme with some of these maintenance activities: Check your owner’s manual! This is the key to taking good care of your vehicle because it has everything you need to know from what kind of motor oil should go in your car to how often you should change the wiper fluid.
You should always be keeping an eye on your windshield, literally. It’s how you see where you’re driving! Therefore, having a dirty windshield could obscure your vision to the point of causing a collision or other form of car accident.
You should also look out for and fix little scratches or chips in the windshield as soon as they happen. Leaving them unattended could lead to further damage that results in the whole windshield needing to be replaced. Unless you have car insurance that covers them, that can be a hefty repair bill.
Keeping a kit inside your car is always a good idea for your own safety in case something goes wrong on the road. However, it’s also a good idea for maintaining the different parts of your car. In addition to the items that you will need for your own safety, like a flare or maybe some food and water, it’s a good idea to carry supplies that can help you change a tire and or even patch it if you need to.
Perhaps most overlooked when it comes to car maintenance is the need to keep it clean. Letting the exterior or the interior of your vehicle collect dust and dirt can lead to erosion of the paint or staining of the interior. This could lead to more costly repairs later or permanent damage to your vehicle. You’ll also want to be sure that you’re keeping small crevices like the weather protection seals on your window clean to avoid any unwanted corrosion.
One of the easiest ways to make sure your car maintenance is up-to-date is by keeping regular service appointments with a mechanic or dealership. Although this may seem daunting at first, it can actually be an efficient way to keep up with overall maintenance and reduce the potential of having issues on the road. At a service appointment, you can typically expect your oil to be changed, your tires to be rotated and for certain parts of your car to be evaluated. In this way, the mechanic will be able to pinpoint what needs attention before it breaks.
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