Taking care of your vehicle might seem like a no brainer, but being smart about proper maintenance can save you money and help keep the roads safer. Here are some car care tips for you to follow provided by The Balancing Act:
Use a reliable tire gauge. Driving on over- or under-inflated tires can be dangerous and decreases your fuel economy. Check the rim of your tire or your owner’s manual for the correct pressure per square inch (PSI) at least once a month, especially when it’s cold outside. Under normal use, tires can lose about one PSI every 30 days, but every 10 degree drop in temperature causes the same thing.
Check your tire tread. Use the Penny Test to check the tread on your tires monthly and before every long trip. Insert a penny into the tread, Lincoln’s head first. If you can see the top of his head, the tread is too worn and the tire likely needs to be replaced.
Check the fluid levels. When you check your anti-freeze, oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, automatic transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid, remember that you want the fluid level to be at “full” – never overfill!
Use the correct gas. Less than 5% of the vehicles on the road require premium fuel, yet more than 20% of all the fuel sold in the U.S. is premium. Check your owner’s manual for the correct octane level for your car and if it only requires regular, save the extra cash!
Keep your air filters clean. Your air filters keep impurities from damaging the inside of your engine and can help you increase your fuel economy. Replacing even a partially clogged filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.
Wash your car regularly. Keeping your vehicle’s exterior washed and waxed will preserve the paint finish and protect your entire vehicle from the environment. Salt, water, sand and even the de-icing chemicals used on the roads can cause rust and other damage.
Use the trunk wisely. Driving around with a bunch of junk in your trunk adds extra weight to the vehicle, making it work harder with less fuel efficiency. Instead, use the space to store emergency items, such as: flares, an ice scraper, a blanket, a properly inflated spare tire, windshield de-icer, jumper cables, extra clothes, non-perishable snacks, a flashlight, a small shovel, bottled water and a cell phone car charger.
Find a reliable mechanic. Your car is one of your biggest investments, so it’s important to find someone you can trust to work on it. Ask friends and family for recommendations and check websites such as Angie’s List. Once you choose the technician, make sure you go to the same shop for regular maintenance and repairs. Establishing a relationship with your mechanics will help you receive more reliable service.
If you have a question, ask! When it comes to your vehicle, no question is stupid. A well-maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle and the more you know, the better.