Must-Have Car Maintenance Tips

Your car is more than steel and wheels. It’s your trusted partner in transportation, getting you to the places you need to be.

For non-mechanical owners, get your ride into the shop every three months or so — or as often as your manufacturer’s maintenance schedule recommends. Make sure they check, top off or change the following items.

  • Oil levels (and filter)
  • Battery and cables
  • Belts
  • Gas and engine air filters
  • Hoses
  • Lights and fuses
  • Tire inflation and condition
  • Windshield wipers
  • Fluids: coolant, brake, power steering, windshield washer, automatic transmission

Your Mileage is a Hint for These Repairs

Tires:  A good way to reduce the likelihood you’ll have to fix a flat tire is by replacing them somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 miles – depending on their quality and the terrain you travel. Experts often say you should buy all four at the same time because their matching traction is safer.  

Timing belt: Not all vehicles have timing belts. But if yours does, it’s critical to its health. There aren’t any obvious signs your timing belt needs replacing, so, manufacturers recommend you have it changed between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. Check your owner’s manual to find out if you have one and when you should have it changed.  

Brakes: Typically, you should replace your car’s brake pads every 25,000 – 50,000 miles, depending on how you drive. Don’t wait! The more extensive the damage, the wider you’ll have to open your wallet.

Simple Do-It-Yourself Tips

Are you hands-on? Take a few minutes each season to get under your vehicle’s hood and check that fluids are at the proper levels, your belts are in good shape, and the area where you park is free of spots from leaks. Also, check-off these car maintenance must-dos:

Tire pressure: Check it once a month using a tire pressure gauge, which is simple to read. How do you find the correct air pressure for your tires? Look in your car manual, plus it should be on a sticker attached to your door edge, fuel door, glove box or door post. 

Exterior lights: Grab a friend and check each other’s parking brake, high- and low-beam lights (and fog lights if you have them) every few months. Depending on your car’s model, you might find it easy to change these lights in just a few seconds. 

Motor oil: If your oil light is on, check your vehicle manual for the type of oil you need before you buy. Not all oils work for all makes — so be sure!

Car battery: Colder weather causes batteries to lose their strength.  Replace your battery once it loses capacity. An average battery lasts 5-7 years. Read your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations for your vehicle.

Did you know? Many auto parts stores will test your battery for free.

Break Down Help

If — despite your best efforts — your car does break down, check out our helpful guides about what to do when your car breaks down or fixing a flat tire.

Your American Family Insurance agent is always ready to keep your dreams protected. Contact them to find out more about how Emergency Roadside Assistance can make for smoother travels.


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Related Topics: On The Road , Car Maintenance