As a new driver with my very first car, it was vital to become educated on how to best maintain my car to increase its lifespan.
Fortunately, the internet is a magical land of content, tips and information and within a few hours, I was as informed about car maintenance as more experienced car owners.
The truth is, the best ways to maintain your car are not only affordable, they are also very easy.
Here are my top tips on some of the best – and easiest – ways to maintain your car.
Need a replacement? Look online first
Do you need to replace a part in your car? Unfortunately, this is an expense we all endure at some point.
Most people will go straight to their mechanic and order the part through them. Of course, this tacks on a large markup on the price. Between the shipping, commission for the mechanic and the lack of comparison shopping, you could end up paying a lot more for the part than its original cost.
But here’s a little-known tip: you don’t need to order the auto part through a mechanic. You can order it yourself just as well online.
Given that I bought a Mercedes Benz, when I needed to replace my tail lights, I went to the motor-doctor.co.uk site, found my car model and selected the tail light with a few clicks.
Easy as pie… And a lot more affordable than doing this process through my mechanic, which cost me, no joke, three times more.
All you need is to know your car’s make, model and year and you will find the correct car parts. Then, take it to your mechanic and get charged only for the installation rather than the part and installation.
Read the owner’s manual
Does this sound like a silly tip? Well, you’d be surprised how few people actually read their car’s owner’s manual.
I understand the hesitation – manuals are long, tedious and time-consuming. The valuable information in the manuals are mostly ignored. In fact, according to Subaru, over 1 in 5 calls coming into their call center involve questions that are specifically answered in the owner’s manual.
As a new car owner, the best thing you can do to become educated on your car is to go through the manual, page by page.
As a matter of fact, once I went through mine, I realized the car had features that the previous owner didn’t even know exist: it had a bluetooth speaker, it had a hidden extra compartment, and a double-locking system.
Now I know my car inside-out and if something happens to the car, I can quickly check the manual to better understand the situation.
For the sake of safety, proper maintenance and comfort, take a few hours to go through your manual. It will keep your car far better maintained and reduce your costs in the long-term.
Wash your car
Keeping your car clean is not just about aesthetics, it’s also about increasing its lifespan.
Keep it dirty and you’ll soon start seeing the impact of dust, dirt and salt accumulated on your vehicle. It starts with a small bit of rust, but it spreads quickly across the car.
This devalues the car itself and is very expensive (if at all possible) to fix. It’s not just the paint job that will be ruined, auto parts could as well, which means investing in replacements.
As a general rule, wash your car every two weeks or so, or even more often if you live by the ocean.
If you want to take up the maintenance and cleanliness a notch, invest some time and money into a proper car waxing. It will keep dust off your car.
A car wash may not seem like a necessary piece of maintenance, but in the long run it can save you a lot of money.
Change your oil
I’ve seen plenty of new drivers be scared of testing for oil change, but it’s so easy and simple that we can all do it.
There are many YouTube tutorials on how to check your dipstick and monitor the engine oil in your car. They show you exactly what you can do to keep the oil level optimal and your engine running well.
Ignore oil maintenance and your car could be heavily damaged. In order to function correctly, your vehicle needs to be a literal well-oiled machine. There’s a lot of friction going on under the hood and without lubrication, the pistons, cylinders and gears can heat up and meld together.
On top of that, dirty oil is thicky and erosive and can do plenty of damage on its own. The longer you wait to change oil, the dirtier it gets.
You want to top your engine up with fresh oil and change out the filter every 6,000km or so. This ensures your engine will be longer-lasting and healthy.
Take an auto mechanics course
Most people have probably never considered this, but there are even online courses teaching the basics of auto mechanics. The online versions are very affordable and include numerous step-by-step tutorials.
I took a one-week offline course in a mechanic’s workshop and it was very eye-opening.
First of all, it showed me that car mechanics are not as intimidating as they seem. As a software engineer myself, I started understanding the hardware behind vehicles.
Second, they taught me how to handle many of the basic, common maintenance steps with cars like oil changes. We even had to train to change tires on our own, a feat which is not always easy for women due to the strength required. I also read a lot of tire reviews, so I would be prepared to choose the best one when needed.
Third, they taught us how to diagnose some common problems in cars so we can pinpoint issues. This will be invaluable for me in the future when I take my car to the mechanics and can hold an educated conversation with the mechanic.
Do you have any additional maintenance tips that can help increase your vehicle’s lifespan? Share with us below!