Your car is one of the most important tools you own. One of the easiest ways to keep your car running in peak condition is to keep up with regularly scheduled maintenance. Some things — like engine oil — require a change at specific intervals. Others, like brakes, rotors, and tires, only need to be changed when they wear down. Use this guide to know when you need to perform maintenance on some of your car's parts.
The Best Maintenance Tips for Your Car
Change Your Oil
The old adage was to always change your oil every 3,000 miles, but that is no longer the case. With synthetic oils that last much longer becoming more prevalent, the average recommended oil change falls between 5,000 and 15,000 miles. Whether you change it yourself or go to a garage, an oil change doesn't take more than half an hour. Just drain the old oil, replace the oil filter, and fill it back up, and you're good to go.
Swap Your Wiper Blades
Any time your wiper blades start to leave streaks on your window or make a ton of noise, it's time for a new set. Normally, these just pop right off, making for a super simple exchange. They're one of the cheapest forms of maintenance you can do and greatly improve your on-road safety.
Check Your Brakes and Rotors
Brakes and rotors usually last you a couple of years under normal driving conditions. Sometimes, you can get away with only changing the brakes if you catch them before they start to damage the rotors. If you start to hear the screech of metal on metal when you stop, it's time for a new set of pads. Visit a mechanic unless you're very confident in your mechanical abilities.
Re-align Your Wheels and Suspension
It doesn't hurt to bring your car in at least once a year to have the alignment and suspension checked out. A winter full of driving through potholes and other hazards can send your car out of alignment. Most garages can take care of this — and they'll also inspect the condition of your tires while they're at it.
Top Off Your Fluids
Nothing is easier than popping the hood and seeing what the wiper fluid, coolant, oil, and brake fluid levels are. It just takes a few minutes to make sure they're all at the appropriate levels. If you let them run dry, you risk causing major damage to your vehicle. Always keep the fluids between the minimum and maximum marks on their reservoirs or dipsticks.
Inspect Your Tires
Doing a quick inspection of your tires any time you hop in the car is a piece of cake. Check to see if any of them look low or show signs of cracking. At least once a month, perform a more detailed inspection of the tread. The easiest way is to perform the penny test — you'll know within seconds if they're bad or not.
Keep Your Car Happy and You'll Be Happy
When your car is running at its best, you don't have to worry about breaking down. While you're learning about how to maintain your car, you should also make sure you're up to date with your state's driving laws. One way to do this is by taking a driver's ed course at DriversEd.com. Our fun, interactive lessons will teach you all you need to know at your own pace.