How and When to Maintain Your Pre-Owned Vehicle
Though it might seem like a nagging chore, routine maintenance is an important part of car care. Follow these five essential maintenance tips for your vehicle — especially if it’s pre-owned.
Wash Your Car
Washing your car is far more important than just keeping the vehicle looking nice. The dust and gunk that your car collects during daily drives wears away the paint if left to fester, and it can even reach down to the metal underneath if given time. This will deteriorate the vehicle’s body and its value, and it will make your car look far more used than it really is. Wash your car bimonthly, and add a coat of wax to protect the vehicle from sun damage.
Check Your Tire Pressure and Tread
Low tire pressure will compromise your fuel efficiency and put you at increased risk for accidents. Especially when coupled with low tire tread, you’ll be much more likely, for example, to hydroplane in bad weather. If you have a tire pressure monitoring system, check it to confirm that your air levels are OK. Otherwise, buy a gauge and check the tires manually once or twice a month. You can use the penny method to verify your tire tread depth as well.
Top Off Your Engine Fluids
One of the most important things to do for a pre-owned vehicle is check its fluid levels. These are the essential fluids under the hood that need regular care:
Engine oil: The oil should be changed roughly every 5,000 miles, but you also need to check the dipstick as part of your routine maintenance. If the oil is dirty or low, it should be replaced ahead of schedule.
Power steering fluid: Power steering fluid should also be clean and near the minimum and max levels marked on the tank. You can add more fluid on your own, but you shouldn’t need a total change often in a vehicle’s lifetime.
Coolant: Check that your car’s coolant levels are between the minimums and maximums marked on the reservoir.
Though you won’t need to completely change out these fluids often, checking them should be a part of your regular maintenance. At least once a month, pop open the hood and confirm that these fluids are clean and at the appropriate levels.
Replace Your Engine Filter
Replacing your engine’s filter is critical to keeping the vehicle running smoothly and efficiently. You can do this on your own. How often you should replace your engine filter depends on factors such as how much you drive and the driving conditions you normally encounter. Consult your owner’s manual for information about where the filter is located.
Check Your Alignment
Alignment checks are a pretty standard service at a dealership or mechanic, and they’re very important. This is key to the longevity of your tires and to avoid having to purchase a single tire before they all need a change. Your owner’s manual will state how often you need to have the alignment checked.
A little preventative maintenance goes a long way. Get into the habit of performing these checks, and you’ll spot and prevent minor issues before they become major problems.