Basic car maintenance Tips to Maintain your Vehicle Like a Pro
Some people treat their cars better than they treat their own bodies. Others live by the
adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you fall into the later category, read these tips on maintaining
your car, or you are going to be pissed the next time you break down on the way home from work.
1. Fan belts and hoses are usually the first parts to go on the typical car, even before the
vehicle has covered 30,000 miles. Check them often by simply inspecting for wear and tear.
2. Check your oil every two weeks. Some of today’s cars run hotter than ever. It is often normal
to go through a quart of oil every 2,000 miles. Chose the correct oil for your vehicle. The owner’s manual will
recommend the proper viscosity for your car. Do not waste money on expensive synthetic oils. Read our tutorial
on “How to Change Oil.”
3. To keep the cooling system unclogged, drain and replace the antifreeze at least every two
years. It is a good idea to replace hoses and flush the cooling system with a radiator flushing solution before
adding new antifreeze.
4. Replace the automatic transmission fluid and filter every 36,000 miles. Change earlier if
the normally pink fluid takes on a brown tinge or smells burnt. If the fluid has a burnt odor, have the car’s transmission
inspected before an oil change.
5. Check your car’s engine once a week for oil leaks and dirt. If you spot a grimy area, wipe
it clean with a dry cloth. Recheck in two days to see if oil or dirt has reappeared. If so, take your car in for
6. Do not try to clean the engine by hosing it down with water. Water may seep into electrical
connections and trigger a short circuit.
7. Run your car’s air conditioner for about 5 minutes each month, even during the winter. This
will keep the system well lubricated and help prevent failures.
8. Run your car’s heater for 5 to 10 minutes a few times during the summer to prevent the air
distribution system from sticking or seizing.
9. Watch for brake fluid leaks. Try to park your car in the same place each night. If you have
a slow leak, you will notice fluid in the same spot on the ground. Place a flat piece of cardboard under your car
to help monitor leaks, and to prevent your garage floor from getting filthy.
10. To extend the life of brake pads and rotors, avoid making frequent sudden stops.
11. Check tires twice a month for abnormal wear. Rotate tires every 7,500 miles to preserve them.
12. Check battery terminals for white deposits. Use a wire brush to whisk off deposits, then
clean the entire battery with a mixture of 2 teaspoons baking soda and 1 pint of water.
13. To extend the life of your car’s transmission, come to a complete stop before shifting between
reverse and a forward gear. If your car has a manual transmission, keep your foot on the brake and shift into neutral
when at a stop. Riding the clutch will surely cause unnecessary wear.
14. Wax your car 3 times a year; summer, fall, and spring.
15. Lubricate door hinges and locks with a penetrating grease or graphite lubricant spray once
16. Take your car for regular checkups to a competent and honest mechanic.