There’s no doubt that it’s a lot easier to turn up the radio when you hear a strange noise in your car. You may also choose to cover up that pesky Check Engine light with a Post-It. But unfortunately, those fixes can only help for so long. You just invite more expenses later down the line if you don’t take care of your car, which really isn’t going to be good for anyone. Check out these must-dos before you find out, “Were car radios ever illegal, should they be,” if you want to care for your car rather than just ignore the problems.
Changing Your Oil
You can forget the whole 3k mile rule if you use synthetic, which can last for up to 15k miles. Of course, the more premium the oil, the more expensive it will be. The exact oil for you will likely be spelled out in your owner’s manual, or you can take the car to the dealer too. A regular mechanic also works, but they’re typically not as attuned to the nuances of your car, which can make for mistakes.
Changing Your Battery
Batteries last for about three years or so, but that’s only so helpful. Just like your normal AA batteries might fail you faster than you expected, so too can your car battery. There should be an expiration date on the battery, which is normally done by coded letters and numbers. So A18 would mean the battery expires in January of 2018, and C19 would be March of 2019. It’s typically recommended that you change your battery out sooner than three years, especially if you tend to make a lot of short trips. Longer trips are what will keep it stronger for longer.
Understanding the Check Engine Light
Sometimes the check engine light is a sign that you must take your car to a mechanic — right now. But sometimes it’s triggered by an oxygen sensor and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. If the light goes on and then goes off quickly, then it’s probably fine. If it stays on though, you’ll need to have someone with a code reader check it out.
Defensive Driving Course
A defensive driving course can make an enormous difference when it comes to maintaining your vehicle. When you drive defensively, you save gas, you save your brakes, and you save your sanity. It can mean fewer tire changes, less engine stress, and a much bigger wallet for you.
Anywhere between 20k and 40k is when you want to change your tires out. Use the penny test to check the tread by inserting a penny upside down. If you can see Abe’s head, then it’s time for new tires. Even if you don’t drive very often though, tires that are more than 6 years old may need to be changed due to brittle rubber after repeated sun exposure. Check your alignment after you change your tires, or when you start to feel the car pull to one side or the other. However, even if it’s not pulling, have your alignment checked once every year. Optimum performance from your tires is necessary for your safety and your fuel conservation.
Belts and Hoses
Your owner’s manual is a good spot to check on how often to change the belts and hoses. But you can also just check on them by opening the hood of your car. Any signs of cracking or dry rot means that they need to be changed. Old hoses also tend to wear away on the bottom and appear shiny.