12 Tips to Take Care of Your Car
Car Care Council
The best way to keep your car out of the repair facility with major repair problems is to follow a basic vehicle care maintenance schedule. It is recommended that you make general visual inspections and stay on top of vehicle maintenance items. A skilled automotive technician can assist with basic vehicle maintenance and more complex repairs.
- Start your vehicle properly and drive it frequently. Believe it or not, an idle car can become a sick car. If you have a spare car, drive it on the weekends to keep fluids circulating, tires properly inflated and batteries stable.
- Don't let the fuel tank run down to empty. A good rule of thumb for safety and to keep dirt out of your fuel system is to fill up when the fuel gauge reads half-full.
- Steer the vehicle properly. Don't turn the wheel excessively where it can go no further. That causes significantly more wear and tear on the steering pump than necessary.
- Pay attention to the dashboard. Warning lights are telling you that something is going on under the hood. Sometimes waiting even a few days can be the difference between a routine fix and a major, costly repair. In some cases, warning lights indicate you must stop the vehicle immediately. Red lights typically mean "stop now."
- Check the engine's oil level each time a tank of fuel is purchased, or once a month. Regular oil changes can reduce engine wear and make the vehicle run cooler and last longer.
- Look at the transmission fluid to be sure that it is at the proper level and doesn't look dirty or smell burnt.
- Inspect the antifreeze/coolant level and condition, making sure the proper mixture of water and coolant is used according to specifications in the owner's manual. Also make sure the coolant has been drained and/or flushed as recommended by the maintenance schedule in the owner's manual.
- Frequently inspect cooling system hoses, including the radiator, heater and bypass hoses at least every five years. Replace sooner if there are cracks, splits, swelling or softness.
- Inspect all other hoses under the hood. Look for visual signs of leaking or damaged hoses in the power steering, air conditioning, transmission, cooling and brake lines.
- Frequently inspect and replace all belts that are worn, cracked, frayed or damaged. Replace all belts more than five years old.
- Check the air filter at least with every oil change, and more often in dusty conditions.
- Inflate tires to recommended pressure. Under-inflated tires are a safety hazard and can cut fuel economy. Inspect for damage and excessive tread wear. Rotate tires approximately every 7,500 miles.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the "Be Car Care Aware" campaign, educating consumers about the benefits of regular vehicle maintenance and repair.