A lot of car and truck owners pay little attention to the needs of their vehicles until a problem arises.
Yes, we’ll bring them into our auto repair shop once or twice year for a regularly scheduled oil change and other maintenance. There’s more that drivers can do, however, to ensure their vehicles look and run their best.
Performing your own regular automotive check-ups and light maintenance when needed will go a long way towards protecting the sizable investment you’ve made in your vehicles.
The maintenance tasks included in these seven car care tips are easy to do and won’t require much of a time investment.
1. Inspect your battery
Your vehicle isn’t going anywhere if its battery fails, so take the time for a quick visual inspection and some occasional cleaning of this vital car component.
At least once a year, check your battery terminals for any signs of dry white battery acid. If there is any, remove the cables from your battery (do the negative cable first).
Use a wire brush and corrosion removal fluid from an automotive supplies retailer to clean up the corrosive material from the battery’s terminals. A mixture of baking soda and water can also be used.
Rinse off the cleaned area with some water, dry it with a rag, and reconnect the battery cables (attach the positive cable first).
Approximate time needed: 15-20 minutes
2. Change your windshield wiper blades
car care tips, wet car windshield with wipersOne of the biggest safety concerns when driving is having a clear windshield to provide the highest level of road visibility.
It should be considered a top priority to replace worn out windshield wiper blades that skip, leave streaks on your windshield, or don’t effectively remove rain and snow. When you hear them making a squeaking noise, that’s another indicator it’s time to replace the wiper blades.
Even if your wiper blades seem to be working well, periodically inspect the rubber strips on the blades for signs of cracking. Give the rubber strips an occasional wipe with a damp rag or paper towel to remove any debris.
Just as with most of the maintenance tasks included in these car care tips, variables such as weather and vehicle usage will affect your timetable for replacing certain car parts.
Generally, it’s recommended to replace your wiper blades every 6-12 months. Next time you buy a new pair, buy an extra set you can store in the trunk and have readily available.
On most vehicles, changing the windshield wiper blades can easily be done yourself. Just follow the instructions in your owner’s manual and on the back of the packaging for the wiper blades.
Approximate time needed: 10-15 minutes
3. Change the engine air filter
Of all the care care tips listed here, changing your own engine air filter is probably the most intimidating. Rest assured, though, it’s quite easy to do.
A dirty air filter will restrict how much air flow your engine takes in, which puts extra strain on the engine. This can affect gas mileage slightly and, more noticeably, acceleration performance on your vehicles.
The frequency with which an engine air filter should be changed will depend on various factors. Driving regularly on unpaved roads and in heavy traffic will cause air filters to become clogged faster.
The maintenance schedules for changing air filters can vary widely between car manufacturers. Some recommend doing it every 15,000 miles (24,000 kilometres), while others advise you to change it every 45,000 miles (72,000 kilometres).
Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine your schedule and to find your engine air filter’s location. For most vehicles, the air filter box isn’t difficult to access and may not even require tools to open.
A quick look at your air filter will let you know whether or not it should be changed. A dirty air filter will appear gray or black.
Approximate time needed: 5-10 minutes