Getting your first car can be a lot like having your first kid. You fell in love with it instantly, it feels like a huge responsibility, and you’re constantly worried that you have no real idea what you’re doing. Well, we don’t know much about babies, but we can help you with the car! Below are a few important auto maintenance areas you’re going to want to pay attention to year-round, not just right before your annual auto repair center visit:
1. The Oil
Oil is extremely important if you want to keep your car running smoothly. It is important to check the level of the oil in your car (which you can do yourself) using a dip stick, and to go in for an oil change whenever needed. Now the “whenever needed” part is becoming tricky, as oil changes are simply not needed every 3,000 miles like they used to be. Be sure to check your car’s manual for the recommended change interval, which can be up to 15,000 miles nowadays thanks to modern technology.
2. Your Tires
The main thing to be concerned with tire-wise is air pressure and tread. We recommend purchasing a tire pressure gauge and making sure that your tires always have the model-recommended amount of air in them. You should check your tire pressure once a week if you can, as it can change depending on the weather. As far as tread goes, be constantly vigilant for wear and tear (similar to the soles of sneakers) or weird bulges, as these can cause blow-outs and inefficiency.
3. The Brakes
Brakes are probably the number one safety feature of a car in our opinion. Always be on the lookout for slow brake time or a screeching sound every time you try to employ the brake. Most importantly, if you have either of these problems, do NOT procrastinate on going into an auto repair professional for brake service. Brake service jobs vary in price and necessary frequency, but generally people who live in a city will have to get their brakes checked three times more frequently than someone who lives in a place with wide open roads. Stop-go traffic makes brake service an important expense that you should budget for at least once every six months.
4. Antifreeze and Coolant
Just as oil keeps everything moving, antifreeze and coolant fight the weather to keep everything liquid and the right temperature. Having enough antifreeze in the winter and coolant in the summer can greatly reduce the wear and tear on your car, so make sure to check your manual for recommended refills and correct fluid levels. Also, watch out for any leaks and dash board warnings that things are getting too cold or too hot under the hood.
Every light in your car should work, and not just the ones that draw the attention of police. We’re talking headlights, tail lights, brake lights, dome light — the works. One popular light to ignore is the “check engine” light. Many people think that as long as their car is running, they can put this off. Don’t! This light is there for a reason!
We hope this basic guide proves helpful to you as you embark on the exciting journey of car ownership. Good luck and safe driving!