Car Maintenance 101

car maintenance tips

No matter how well you take of your vehicle throughout the year, there are always proactive, preventive measures you can take to boost your car’s safety and performance. So from oil changes to tune ups, here are a few car maintenance tips we recommend year-round.

Oil Change

One of the easiest ways to extend the life of your car is through consistent oil changes. Basically, oil lubricates and cleans your engine and keeps many moving parts of your vehicle happy. Maintaining proper levels and changing out the oil at regular intervals not only extends the longevity of your car, it also helps you get better gas mileage.

How do you know it’s time for an oil change? Some mechanics may swear by the 3,000-mile mark. But that isn’t taking important factors into consideration such as climate, driving habits, mileage, and oil type. For example, a 10-year-old car with 150,000 miles that takes conventional oil may need to be changed sooner than a new car that takes synthetic oil. Ultimately, as with most things, consult your owner’s manual to confirm what’s best.

Tire Rotation and Alignment

Your tires are the link between your vehicle and the road. Every pot hole you hit, your tires—and suspension system—take a toll. And they go through quite a lot. So, what’s the perfect way to thank your tires for a job well done? By rotating them to increase their life. Checking your alignment takes things one step further. Wheel alignment ensures that the travel of your wheels is straight and true. Not only does it reduce tire wear, it improves the longevity of your suspension system.

Both rotation and alignment tires are jobs for your mechanic—but they’re well worth the time and money. Because the rubber on your tires wears down quicker than the springs, shock absorbers, and linkages of your suspension system, it’s recommended to perform tire rotations more frequently. Full alignments, on the other hand, depend on factors such as driving conditions and habits. Ultimately, it’s best to consult a trusted mechanic to confirm the status of your alignment.

Tire Pressure

Because air pressure can decrease in cool weather, spring is the perfect time to check your tires. Tire pressure also affects your car’s fuel efficiency and plays a role in comfort and handling. Overinflated tires lead to a stiff, rigid ride and have a higher risk of explosive flats. Underinflated tires can impact your cornering and handling, resulting in less control.

Luckily, checking your air pressure is easy. You can purchase a pressure gauge on the cheap, or use one for a quarter or two at your local gas station. What should you be looking for? Generally, it’s recommended that you maintain between 30 and 35 PSI (the standard rating for tire air pressure), but check either your owner’s manual or your tire pressure safety label to see if your tire pressure is at the recommended level.

Windshield Wipers

It’s easy to take windshield wipers for granted—especially if you live in a dry, arid climate. However, they are an integral part to a safe driving experience. Visibility is key. Your windshield wipers help ensure you’re able to see clearly at all times. And because they’re exposed to the elements and (let’s face it) are pretty shoddy, wipers tend to wear out fairly quickly.

So, how do you know when to replace your windshield wipers? From streaking to squeaking, it should be pretty obvious when it’s time. Installing new wipers is straightforward as well. Simply purchase the right size and follow the instruction on the package. While you’re at it, now’s the perfect time to wipe down the inside and outside of your windshield with a surface cleaner.

Seasonal car maintenance and prep

While taking care of your car is something that should be done year-round, certain times of year call for different kinds of preparedness.

Spring car maintenance

In the spring, many states see an increase in rain showers and thunderstorms, so things like making sure your tire treads are in good shape, all your headlight bulbs are working, and replacing your windshield wipers are important. Increased temperatures may also mean you need to adjust your tire’s PSI to make sure they’re getting proper traction on the warming pavements.

Summer car maintenance

Summer car maintenance isn’t all too different from spring, but as temperatures continue to rise, there are certain safety precautions you should take. Like we mentioned, hotter weather requires different PSI in your tires to ensure proper traction, so be sure to check your PSI regularly to make sure your tires are neither under nor over inflated. Additionally, the risk of your car overheating in the summer is much greater, so be sure your coolant is topped off. And, of course, make sure your A/C is running smoothly!

Fall/Winter

As temperatures start to cool off in the later months, you should start prepping your car for the effects of frost and other harsh weather like sleet and snow. And, as the flip side of summer, make sure your heat is working before temperatures drop too much!

Annual Tune-Up

While spending money on something that isn’t technically broken can be a hard sell, an annual tune-up can help increase the life of your car—and stop any bigger problems in their tracks. From checking your filters and fluids to belts and hoses, there’s a slew of things to check. A safety inspection service provided by a trusted mechanic can provide you peace of mind and ensure that your car is good to go.

Unsure of where to begin with an annual checkup? YourMechanic makes car maintenance easy and provides a 75-point safety inspection to ensure your vehicle is running to the best of its ability. The best part? They’ll come perform the work at your home or office. Simply get a quote and book an appointment online—and they’ll take care of the rest. And right now, YourMechanic is offering Elephant Insurance customers a discount when they use the code Care20, which gets new customers $20 off of all service appointments over $100!

Save money on car maintenance

Cars can be expensive to upkeep, but a necessity for most of us to get through our day. Whether you have an older car, a brand new car, or multiple cars, there are certain ways you can maintain your car’s condition while saving a few bucks along the way. Understanding the best times to change things like your oil, transmission fluid, and air filters can end up saving you money instead of waiting too long to change them out, or changing them too frequently. Another way to save money on maintaining your car? Getting affordable car insurance that will protect you in a pinch. Get a quote with Elephant today to see how we can help you save on your premiums.

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