New car or old bucket of bolts: no matter what your situation is, it’s important to keep up on your car care. Currie Motors Ford of Valpo knows this better than most, and while they’ll help you find a new or used car when needed, they want to be sure you also know how to care for the one you’ve got!
Take a look below at some of the basic things every car owner should know, and be sure to show the newer drivers in your life how to take care of their vehicle!
1. Check the Oil: An oil problem leads to a lot of other issues for cars! It’s responsible for lubricating, cooling, and cleaning the engine, so not having enough oil, or having dirty oil, can cause a lot of damage. Newer cars have sensors to tell you when to get an oil change, but it’s never a bad idea to pop the hood, remove the dipstick, and get a look at the oil quality and level yourself!
2. Tire Inflation: Tires that are over-inflated can cause issues with traction and stability, while under-inflated tires can lead to overheating, damage, and lessened gas mileage. Checking tire pressure is simple with the right tools. A decent tire pressure gauge can be purchased for less than $5 and should be kept in the car at all times. Simply press it to the tire’s air valve and take a look at that number. Your tire needs should be available inside the door of your car or in another convenient location.
3. Spare Tire: A spare tire is only useful if it isn’t flat! Be sure to remove it periodically to check on its air pressure. It’s also a good idea to be sure all the tools are on hand for changing a tire when needed. There should be a jack inside, but be sure the wheel lug wrench is there too. Some people keep a spare bit of pipe on hand to add to the wrench for additional leverage if the tire needs changed and the lug nuts are tough!
4. Wiper Blades: Damaged, dried out, or aging wiper blades are no use in a heavy rain. Be sure to check them periodically for damage, clear debris from the blades, and replace when needed. That’s also a good time to fill the windshield wiper fluid and be sure it’s the right formula for the weather.
5. Brakes: Squealing, squeaking, or scratching from the brakes may mean it’s time for a change! Take some time to familiarize yourself with the sounds damaged or old brakes make. It’s also wise to pay attention to stopping distances. If you notice a change, it may be time to get those brakes replaced!
6. Headlights and Taillights: Driving can get difficult or dangerous without proper lights. From headlights to light the way to turn signals that let everyone around you know your intentions, it’s important to make sure all the bulbs are working correctly and that the covers aren’t too foggy or damaged. Be sure to check these out periodically to avoid a dangerous situation or a ticket!
7. Air Filter: Faulty air filters can be a real problem for a car. Be sure to check yours out and change it every 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever is first. This one is an easy fix that most people can do on their own, but if not, head to your mechanic for a quick update!
8. Tire Rotation: Tires don’t wear the same so it’s important to rotate them every so often! Many places offer this service with an oil change, but if not, be sure to ask them to rotate the tires for you. It’s a simple process that can make the wheels last longer!
9. Create an Emergency Kit: There are plenty of lists out there telling you want to add to your emergency kit. Check a few out and be sure to include whatever makes sense for your situation. No one wants to run into an emergency while on the go, but doing so unprepared is even worse. At minimum, keep jumper cables, water, local maps, blankets, an empty one gallon gas can, a cell phone charger, nonperishable food, a flashlight and batteries, and a first aid kit on hand.
10. Drive Safely: One of the best ways to care for your car is to drive safely. Obey posted speed limits, approach stops slowly, and always be alert while on the road.