Congratulations-you just drove home with your very own set of wheels. You’ve never taken care of your own car before, and you want it to run its smoothest for years to come.
To prevent costly repairs, your car requires constant upkeep. Fortunately, car care isn’t too hard when you follow this timeline.
Along with washing your car regularly, you should keep your eye on a couple of mechanical issues.
Check Tire Pressure
When your tire pressure gets too low, your tires can unattach from the rim, causing you to crash. To prevent problems with your tire pressure, check it monthly using a pressure gauge.
The recommended tire pressure number is listed in your car’s owners’ manual, and often on your driver’s side door. If the number on the tire gauge is lower than this number, fill your tires with air until they reach the recommended pressure reading. You can fill your tires with air by purchasing your own air pump or using one at a gas station.
The various fluids in your car lubricate its parts and keep it running without damage. Each month, check the following fluid levels:
Engine oil: Keeps your engine cool and prevents its parts from wearing down. Check your oil by removing the oil dipstick, located under your car’s hood. If the oil level is low, take your car to a mechanic.
Coolant: Prevents your car from overheating. Check the coolant level while the car is off. Add more if needed, but make sure it’s the same type as the fluid already in your car.
Power steering: Helps you steer the car smoothly. It rarely gets low, but if it does, top it off.
Transmission fluid: Helps your car’s gears move. Turn your car on when you check the transmission fluid. If it’s brown or smells like it’s burning, take your car into a shop.
Brake fluid: Allows you to brake smoothly. Like transmission fluid, brake fluid shouldn’t look brown. Get it changed every few years or so.
If you have questions about checking or changing these fluids, talk to a mechanic.
In order to drive legally, you’ll need to obtain a registration inspection each year. You should always register your car with the state you live in; you’ll need to update the registration if you move. Your state may require a safety inspection and/or emissions check to ensure your car doesn’t have any problems that will endanger you or others.
Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for specific details.
In Nebraska, you aren’t required to get a regular safety and emissions check. However, you do need to get a vehicle inspection each year in order to register your vehicle with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Officials will check your vehicle identification number, your title, and your odometer reading.
Every 3000 miles
Complete these tasks regularly to prevent damage and save money in car repairs.
Get Your Oil Changed
If you don’t get your oil changed regularly, dirt will build up and your oil will lose its ability to lubricate your engine. To prevent this situation, you need to get your oil changed about every 3000 miles. Each car has different requirements, so check your owner’s manual.
Oil changes are a complicated process, so take your car in for professional attention.
Rotate Your Tires
Each time you get your oil changed, ask the mechanic to rotate your tires as well. This means that the mechanic will change the location of your tires to prevent them from wearing out. Ask your mechanic when it’s time to get new tires.
Get Your Brakes Checked
While you’re already taking care of other maintenance issues, ask the mechanic to check your brakes as well. Brake pads can wear out over time, making it harder to stop your car. Since the life of brake pads varies widely, ask a mechanic when it’s time to change yours.
Every 30,000 miles
Some car parts will run smoothly for a long time. But they may still require maintenance every so often.
Change Air Filters
Air filters keep dirt out of your engine, but they can get clogged with dirt over time and lead to engine failure. Manufacturers recommend that you get your air filters changed about every 30,000 miles.
Check the Battery
Your car battery will last you about four years. If your car has problems starting, though, you may need a new battery. Ask your mechanic to check your battery and other car parts as well.
This car care timeline may seem extensive, but it’s actually much easier than it looks. All your car requires is a bit of regular upkeep so it can keep taking you places every day. Mark these dates on your calendar and give your car the care it needs. If you notice any issues with your car, bring it to a mechanic right away.