If you view your car as an investment and you want it to be running trouble-free as long as you can, then routine maintenance and proper car care are things you don’t want to skip out on.  Your car won’t magically take care of itself. Get in the habit of taking care of your car by doing regular car maintenance to minimize headaches that can come otherwise down the road.

Below we take you through some things you should be doing to ensure your car stays in tip-top shape.

Clean Your Windshield

Clean Your Windshield

Driving with a dirty windshield is like driving with your eyes covered in dirt, it is a safety hazard as it obscures your view of the road.  So next time you’re filling up, go ahead and clean your windshield. Using the provided sponge/squeegee to soak and clean your windshield.  If your headlights are dirty, clean them as well.  If you want to do this from the convenience of your home, here are some glass care products.

Your wipers have a role to play in keeping the windshield clean too.  Factory ones last anywhere from 6-24 months (depending on the weather conditions) so you’re on your own to replace them.  Worn on wipers won’t be able to keep your windshield clean nor dry which is a safety hazard as well.  Don’t know the size of your wipers?  Use Rain-X’s page to identify the proper size for your car.  You can buy them at a local automotive store or online here.

Check Tire Pressure

Check Tire Pressure

Maintaining proper tire pressure will help keep you safe and help you save money with fill-ups.  Improperly inflated tires — over-inflated or under-inflated — affects your car’s handling, acceleration, stopping performance and fuel economy.  Worn out or over-inflated tires increase your chance of a blowout which is very dangerous especially at high speeds.  Tires with the correct pressure have a longer life and increase your fuel efficiency.

Tire pressure constantly changes as the tires log miles and the temperature fluctuates. That’s why it’s so important to check it regularly and add air when needed.   Some cars have what is called TPMS which tracks the tire’s pressure for you and displays the readings within the gauge cluster.  However, there are still many cars that do not.

Checking your tire pressure is easy.

For an accurate reading, try to check your tire pressure when they are cold – that is before you’ve driven around on them. Checking them after they are hot is not as accurate but still better than not checking them at all.  Use a tire pressure gauge that you can find at a gas station or get a one here.

Find out the tire pressure recommended for your car (it’s in your owner’s manual and on a panel inside the driver’s side door).   Always fill the tires to the recommended level for your car and not of the brand.  Car manufacturers spend a great amount of time testing their cars with certain tires with certain tire pressure.

Check Oil Level

Motor oil is essential to your car’s performance and keeps your engine running as long as possible. It’s most important job is to lubricate all the moving parts in your engine so they don’t grind and break down. It also transfers heat away from the combustion cycle and traps and holds all the nasty byproducts of combustion, sending it to the oil filter. If your engine doesn’t have enough oil, your engine is likely to overheat and die.

To ensure your car always has enough oil, it’s important to get in the habit of regularly checking it.  Checking your car’s oil level is super easy. All you need is a clean paper towel, adequate light, and about three minutes. Most people do this at a gas station but you can do this in your driveway as long as its level.  Don’t check the oil level on an incline or decline because it’ll screw up the reading.

Locate your engine’s dipstick. It usually has an image of an oil can or just says “Engine Oil.”

Check Oil Level

Pull the dipstick out, wipe it clean with a paper towel. Do this a couple of times to clean up the oil that might be caught within the dipstick tube.

Check Oil Level

Ok after about 3 times, its time to check the oil level.  The dipstick will have two marks at the bottom or they can be marked with L for low and F for full. The oil level can be read by looking where the oily part ends and the dry part begins. If the oil line is between the two marks, you’re good to go. If it’s below the bottom mark, you need to add some more oil.  Just a quart mind you.  You should never add more than a quart at once without driving and taking a new reading of the oil level.

Never overfill the engine, it is extremely bad for the engine.  If you accidentally put in too much oil, drain some out immediately.

Most cars are designed to consume a bit of oil between changes, and many manufacturers consider a consumption rate of one quart every 1,000 miles to be normal. Some cars lose more than that because of leaks or because the engine is burning oil along with the gasoline. If you’re needing to add a quart of oil every 500 miles or so, you should take your car in ASAP to get it checked for external and internal leaks.

Wash Your Car

Wash Your Car

Besides performing regular maintenance, try to keep your car clean!  Why wouldn’t you want your car to look new and like a million bucks?  Keeping your car clean also helps save the paint and keep the rust away.

Year-round, cars are subjected to the sun, salt, grease and grime, acid rain, smog, tree sap, dead bugs, and worst of all, the acidic compound of bird poop bombs. These things eat away at paint, and once that’s gone, they will eat at the metal in your car. While failing to wash your car won’t result in immediate damage, over time the elements will corrode your vehicle, along with its potential re-sell value.

How often should you wash your car? It depends. Location and climate are the two biggest factors in determining frequency. If you live in an area with a lot of pollution and sea salt in the air, you’ll need to wash it two or three times a month. If you live inland and in an area with little pollution, a once a month car wash will suffice. During the winter, you may need to wash your car more frequently than you do during the summer due to the snow, salt, and mud that will accumulate as you drive along icy roadways.

All you need is a bucket, soap, a sponge, a hose and some drying clothes.  That’s it.  If you need to buy any of those things, click here.