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maintenance tipsIf there is one thing any mechanic will tell you, it is that preventative maintenance is the single most important thing you can do to save money on repairs and ensure your car is in safe working order. Just the same as you’d go to the doctor for an annual checkup, your car needs regular attention too. You don’t need to be a master technician to perform basic maintenance, though. Here are some simple preventative maintenance tips that anyone can do to make sure your car is in tip-top shape.

Perform Your Own Inspections

Don’t wait for an oil change to give your car a good once over. 3000 miles can be a long time to wait to find out something is wrong. Catching potential problems early might not only save money, but makes your car safer to drive and overall more reliable.

Are all of your lights working properly? Are your wipers in good working order? Are there any strange noises coming from under the hood? Are your tires low on air? Do they have enough tread? Is there any damage to the rubber?

Improperly inflated tires not only cost you money on gas, but also wear faster. If your car is not equipped with pressure sensors, buy an air pressure gauge and keep it in your glovebox. Be sure to check your tire’s air pressure regularly and if anything looks out of the ordinary, take it to your local mechanic!

Check Your Fluid Levels

Even if you don’t know how to replace them, knowing how to check the level of your car’s fluids could save you big money in repairs later on down the line. Start by getting to know the location of each of your car’s fluid reservoirs. In some cases, fluid levels are easy to see, as the tank is visible. In others, though, you may need to locate and pull a dipstick.

As vehicles age, the condition of the fluids is a great indicator of how the parts inside your car are aging too. Is there a particular fluid that is consistently low? Is the fluid in bad shape? If there is no visible leak, this may be a signal that other internal parts may be getting ready to fail. Catching it early could prevent a roadside breakdown and costly tow charges.

If you are adventurous and want to replace fluids on your own, your vehicle’s owner’s manual will have all the information you need on specific fluid types and capacities. If you don’t have an owner’s manual, a simple search online can get you the information you’re looking for. Exercise caution here, though. Some fluids can be hot and under pressure so be sure to always check them when the engine has had time to cool. Also, never ignore a leak!

Keep It Clean

Not all maintenance means getting your hands dirty! Washing your car regularly not only keeps your ride looking nice, but also removes grit and grime from the road that can damage paint. Automotive paint serves a dual purpose. Aside from just looking good, it seals and preserves the metal underneath and protects it from rusting. Rust not only looks bad, but can weaken the structural integrity of a vehicle over time.

A good hand wash can be a relaxing weekend activity. Be sure to clean in door jams, wheel wells, and behind trim parts occasionally to prevent dirt (and in northern states – salt) buildup. Adding a wax coat can add even more protection and help your car stay clean longer between washes.

The most important thing to remember is to never ignore issues. If you notice something is wrong, don’t wait! Take your vehicle to a professional and have it inspected. Think of it this way: preventative maintenance isn’t just saving you money in repairs and making your car safer to drive, it can also help to make you money further on down the road. A well maintained vehicle will generally have a higher resale value than a poorly maintained one, and will fetch a higher price if it ever comes time for you to sell. And that is something everyone can get get behind.