A Complete Guide to Caring for Your Car - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

A Complete Guide to Caring for Your Car

With the average American car owner spending an estimated $9,282 per year on their vehicle – a whopping $773.50 per month – you would assume that the majority of car owners would be taking the necessary steps and precautions to ensure their vehicle stays in the best condition for as long as possible. However, this is clearly not always the case, as according to a survey by Ally Financial, the average American has spent $1,986 over the last five years on vehicle repairs and maintenance, most of which could have been prevented with proper maintenance and consistent car care.

From superficial issues that can be easily remedied, such as not cleaning your car regularly, to more serious maintenance problems that can make driving dangerous, including worn-out brake pads, a shaky steering wheel, and recurring stalling, you need to ensure your car is cared for. Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take as a car owner to ensure that your vehicle goes the distance and remains safe for both you and your family, as well as for other road users.

Keep reading to discover how you can start improving your car care routine today!

1. Change the filters regularly

The frequency in which you should change your oil and air filters should be stated in your vehicle’s maintenance handbook and should be replaced as part of your regular scheduled servicing. Over time, both your car’s oil and air filters can become clogged, which can cause your engine’s fuel efficiency to decrease and significantly impact your engine’s overall performance. Make sure you purchase genuine filters for your car as poor-quality ones that may be cheaper can damage your engine, costing you more in the long-term.

2. Drive smoothly

If you are a fan of regularly revving your engine, then this may not be what you want to hear, but ensuring you drive smoothly is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to care for your car. Aim for smooth inputs in regard to your steering wheel, gearbox, and pedals, guaranteeing that you accelerate and decelerate in a controlled manner. Although revving does have its uses, for instance, it is a good idea to rev your vehicle once every hundred miles or so to remove any carbon deposits that may have built up in your vehicle’s valves.

3. Routinely top up fluids

Although all car owners are aware that this needs to be done, you will be surprised at just how many people regularly forget to check their engine oil levels. All you need to do is remove the dipstick – the oil level should be somewhere between the minimum and maximum markers and should be a light yellow-brown color if your car uses petrol. If the oil appears dark or dirty, then it needs to be replaced.

You also need to check your car’s coolant reservoir container about once every 2 weeks and top it up with distilled water and antifreeze.

4. Keep your car clean

Ensuring that you keep your car clean is not just for superficial reasons, although it is nice to drive around in a shiny, newly washed vehicle. It is also important for ensuring that your car has a long shelf life. When dirt and grit get into the moving parts of your car, it can cause corrosion as well as accelerating general wear and tear. The salt that is applied to the roads in winter is particularly bad for your car, so try to thoroughly clean your vehicle after driving on salted roads.

Bird droppings are another toxic substance for the exterior of your paint job; therefore, you should immediately wash this off with a proper car cleaning solution, not just soap and water, which can have a detrimental effect on your car’s paintwork. It is also a good idea to visit a professional detailing company if you want to restore your car’s paint to showroom quality as they will be able to clean, polish, and protect both your car’s exterior and interior surfaces.

5. Cover your car

Do you keep your car in your garage? Or, more often than not, do you park it on your driveway or on the road? With cars becoming more corrosion-resistant, many owners feel that that they are fine to leave their vehicle uncovered. However, there are many more risks to your car than just rust; theft, vandalism, and accidental damage, to name but a few.

If possible, you should try and keep your car in your garage when it is not in use, or if you do not have a garage, invest in a high-quality car cover. The initial outlay could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the long run.

If in doubt about caring for your car, it is also a good idea to consult your car’s handbook, which will include maintenance instructions that are specifically intended for your vehicle. The handbook will also let you know when your vehicle is due a service as garages can often advise you to carry out a service on your car more often than is needed, but remember, your manual knows best!

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