Just like maintaining health (preventative care like taking vitamins, or seeing your doctor on a regular basis) you need to maintain your car, so it lasts longer. Getting the oil changed, rotating your tires, topping off fluids, and replacing windshield wipers when they go bad are some obvious touch ups you can and should do.

However, there are other things you can do on a regular basis that can help, too. They don't cost a lot of money, just some time and attention.

Wash Your Car 

This is one of the simplest things you can do to maintain the health of your car. You should wash your car on a weekly basis, but even if you can't do it every week, you should do it more than just every now and then. Not only does it make your car look good, but it keeps foreign debris from eating away at the paint.

Over time, paint rusts, leading to the deterioration of your entire car, including the metalwork like the frame and the chassis that holds it together. Rust can make your car incredibly unsafe to drive, so it's definitely something you can avoid without too much trouble.

If you want to care for your car over and above washing it at the car wash, you can hand wash it for a little extra TLC and then wax it to further protect the paint. This is especially important in climates where there's inclement weather, salt on the streets, or salty breezes coming off of the ocean. So, basically, anywhere.

Look Under the Hood

You don't have to know what an intake manifold is, but you should familiarize yourself with the major components under your hood like the battery, the fuse box, or the engine. You may not be a mechanic, but being able to self-diagnose issues can save you a lot of money.

If a mechanic gets a detailed report of what you think might be the issue, they know where to start. They can find the problem quickly and save you waiting around at the shop.

Perform occasional checks on various parts under the hood, especially rubber ones that crack over time. If you give them a quick squeeze and they crack or split, it's time to replace them. It's not very expensive and can save you a ton of money down the road on other things that will turn up faulty if your belts don't work properly.

Knowing where your fluids go is the first step in being able to top them off yourself, but it's also an important step in being able to identify which fluids are leaking and which parts might be in need of repair. If you just topped off your coolant, and it's already empty, you should probably have that looked at. Topping off fluids is not an emergency, but being low on certain fluids, like oil or coolant, for too long, can be detrimental to the rest of your car. 

Check Your Tires

Many drivers disregard how important tires are to the daily operation of their vehicle. Properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage, give you a smoother ride, and make the rest of your car last longer. If you extend the life of your tires, you extend the life of all of your other suspension components and put less stress on your vehicle.

Tire pressure is the first thing to look at. Always keep your tires properly inflated, and pay particular attention to the tire pressure as the weather changes, because the air temperature outside can affect the air expansion in your tires.

You should also rotate your tires regularly, so they wear evenly. If you aren't comfortable doing that yourself, a professional mechanic can do it relatively quickly. As the tread wears thin, replace them. As a general rule, you should replace all four tires at the same time, so they match and wear evenly. 

Understand Your Limits

Every car is built differently. Know the limits of your car and don't push past them. If your car wasn't meant for the drag strip on Friday nights or to tow a twenty-ton camper, don't drive it like it is. Treat your car with respect for its intended purpose, and it will last a lot longer.

Other cars are performance machines, and when not given the exercise they need, they collect sediment and wear out more quickly. The best advice you can follow is to listen to your car, get to know it, and then treat it well. 

Another good idea is to let your car warm up before pushing it to the limit. You don't need to let it idle for ten minutes. You can drive it right after turning it on, just don't drive it hard right after you turn it on. You could cause irreversible damage if you push it past what it is able to do.

Find a Mechanic You Can Trust

If you have a mechanic you trust, you can build a maintenance schedule that fits your car and your needs, and then stick to it. Just like eating healthy prevents disease, keeping your car healthy prevents problems. The cost of car maintenance might not be money you want to spend right now, but it will save a lot of money later.

Small maintenance visits involving checkups, oil changes, belt changes, tire rotations, and tune-ups will give your car a longer life. Find a mechanic that knows your type of car well and have them look at it regularly, just to make sure everything is in proper working order. 

You don't have to know a lot about cars to keep your car healthy. By reading your owner's manual and having a mechanic you can trust, you'll know more than you ever need to make sure your car stays healthy and lives a long life.


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