First, follow the automaker’s recommended maintenance schedule as close as possible. This will include the basic oil and filter services, tire rotations, brake checks, etc. You can find the recommended schedule in the owner’s manual. If you’ve somehow lost it checkout Edmunds Car Maintenance Guide.
Check all fluids regularly. If you’re like me, there’s nothing worse than driving down the road with no windshield wiper fluid in the reservoir. The other fluids you should check are the oil, coolant and brake, power steering, transmission and battery fluids.
Tire pressure is the next thing to watch. Keeping the proper air pressure in your tires will keep you safe on the road, and improve your fuel economy. As it gets colder, it’s not uncommon to see the tire pressure light on the dash. Take your car in immediately and have the tires filled to the maximum pressure recommended by the manufacturer. Also, don’t forget to check the spare if you still have one.
Belts and hoses are up next. Whenever a belt or hose is starting to look worn, have it replaced. Make sure to take a quick peak at your battery cables too. You want to make sure the terminals are clear of corrosion and have a good connection. Lifehacker posted a how to clean corroded car battery terminals with Coca Cola. Check it out and let us know how if it worked for you.
It goes without saying, but pay attention to how your car is driving. Do you hear a funny noise or something just doesn’t feel right? Take into your mechanic to have them check it out. If you can’t find a good one, check out Car Talk’s Mechanic Files.
If you want your car to last longer, go easy on her. Don’t slam the accelerator and brakes. This will prevent unneeded wear and tear on the vehicle. If you see me driving around town, this is more of a do as I say not as I do recommendation.
Last, wash your car. Mother Nature’s car wash, aka rain, will never do as good of job as at a proper car wash. So find your local car wash or do it yourself.
Take some pride in your ride and keep her smiling!