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5 Maintenance Tips for First-Time Car Owners


Buying a car is a big step in life, so whether you’ve bought a brand new or a used car, congratulations on your first purchase! Cars offer unmatched freedom of travel and a sense of accomplishment, unlike any other object.

There are some things you should know about car maintenance to ensure the safety and longevity of your vehicle. Knowing how to properly identify a problem is one of the key components to well maintained long lasting vehicle. This article will go over 5 maintenance tips that will help you keep your car in the best shape possible.

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Engine Fluids

The first tip is very simple but absolutely crucial for a safe and functioning car. Lift the hood and take a look at the levels of fluid in all of the bottles. There’s engine coolant in the radiator, brake fluid, hydraulic fluid for steering, windscreen cleaner. If any of the bottles are below the minimum amount, add the appropriate liquid, but do not go over the maximum amount.

Some engines are prone to consuming oil over time, so you’ll need to stay on top of it and keep the levels in check. Oil checks are done when the engine has cooled off and oil has settled, otherwise, you won’t get an accurate reading.

The oil dipstick looks like a ring and is located around the center of the engine. Pull it out carefully, and wipe the stick clean with a cloth. Put it back in, then pull it out to take the measurements. Hold the dipstick horizontally and look in the indentation at its bottom to see if there’s enough oil. If not, open the oil cap on the engine, and pour roughly a cup before checking again.

Oil & Filter Change

An engine oil change is an unavoidable expense of owning a car. This service is done once a year or every 10 to 15 thousand miles and includes changing the oil filter as well. If your car is not in its warranty period, you can change oil by yourself, and cut down on the costs of going to a mechanic.

An oil change is a very simple process as long as you follow the steps correctly. The only tools you’ll need are a few screwdrivers, an oil filter wrench, and an oil pan or plain bucket. The owner’s manual contains information on the oil type and amount you’ll need, while the local part shop can help you in picking the right filter.

While you’re replacing oil, it’s not a bad idea to replace motor and cabin air filters. Since they’re meant to be changed regularly, they’ll be easy to access and are only secured by a couple of screws or clamps. Remember to dispose of waste correctly, especially oil as it is a toxic material.

Tires

The state of tires depends greatly on their age, type of car, and where and how you drive it. If you’re living in an area with cold and snowy winters, opting for two sets of tires is not a bad idea. Winter tires perform better in cold weather, where summer tires become brittle and unusable.

All-weather tires are an economically superior alternative, however, they have inferior performance compared to specialized tires. Whatever you decide, it’s important that your tires are in good condition. You can easily see signs of wear, cracking, and diminished treads. Tread depth is crucial for braking in rain or snow, so if your treads have less than 0.2” of tread, we strongly advise replacing them.

Light Bulbs

Unless your car has modern LED lights, you’ll likely have to change light bulbs at some point. This can be a very tedious task, as most modern vehicles have a very tight layout with little room to maneuver.

Keep Records

The last tip is probably the most important, both for keeping track of necessary maintenance, but also to raise the resale value. Keeping records of everything that has been done to the car is not a bad thing - on the contrary. You’ll know when’s the last time you’ve had an oil change, at what date and mileage a part has been replaced, so you can rule it out and suspect something else.

A potential buyer likes to see a full-service history as it shows him how much you’ve cared and maintained the car. Make sure to keep any receipt as proof, even if you’ve done some of the repairs at home.

Summary

By following these 5 simple maintenance tips, you’ll be able to keep your car in the best state possible. If you’re feeling up to the task, you can cut costs of going to a mechanic, and perform minor repairs and services at home. However, there’s no shame in asking for expert help, especially if there’s a risk of damaging the car. Stay on top of your records, and should you decide to sell the car in the future, you’ll significantly increase its value.

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