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Easy Car Maintenance Tips for the Car Owning Novice

When you become a car owner, you want to care for it so that it will run smoothly, last long and not pose a hazard to you or others. Some maintenance and repairs will necessitate the expertise of a qualified mechanic. You don’t need experience or expert knowledge for many relatively simple and inexpensive steps to care for your car. A few of these are below. 

Tire Care

Deflated, worn or otherwise compromised tires decrease gas mileage and can put you and others at risk of an automobile accident. With a tire gauge, preferably digital, check the tire pressures once or twice per month. The best or most accurate readings come after your car is cold, or has been stationary for hours. Find the recommended tire pressure on the driver’s door jamb or in the owner’s manual. 

Visually examine the tires. Look for thinning or worn tread and nails or screws that have penetrated into the tire. Feel the inside of the tires for toe wear, in which you may feel what appears to be sharp points or teeth. Such wearing may signal that your tires need to be realigned. 

Check and Change Oil

For a well-lubricated and longer-lasting engine, check the oil level. Locate the dipstick (next to the oil cap) and pull it out to wipe excess oil. Insert and then remove the stick again. The oil should fall between “low” and “high” or “Min” and “Max” notches. If you need to add oil, use the weight of the oil indicated on either the oil cap or your manual. The oil weight is expressed in a format of “XW-XX,” such as “20W-50.” 

Take note of the color when you check the oil. If you see a light color rather than black or brown to the oil, you might have a leak of coolant into your engine. Leaking fluids or cracks in hoses will likely need attention by a mechanic. 

Have your oil changed approximately 3,000 to 5,000 miles. During the service, the mechanic will check brake fluids, coolants, batteries, belts and hoses. The oil change is very important especially as cars accumulate use and age on them. The service technician should indicate the next scheduled oil change by date or mileage. 

Inspect the Lights

Lights on a car help you see and alert other drivers of your lane changes, turns and slowing or stopping. Before someone calls you or an officer stops you, inspect the lights periodically. For tail lights, have someone see if your lights come on when you press brakes or activate the turn signal. If a low-beam light does not work, replace it rather than relying solely on the high beam lights. High beams can blind drivers approaching or driving in front of you and may magnify the lack of visibility due to fog or snow. 

Replace your Windshield Wipers

You will notice worn windshields wiper blades from the streaks or film that remain after using the wipers. Inspect the blades for splits and other signs of wear. Expect to replace the wipers every six months to a year. 

To replace, determine the size for each blade by measuring or reading the owner’s manual. Many auto parts stores have stations at which you can determine the size and model number of the wiper based on the type of vehicle you have. With the wiper pulled away from the windshield, press the tab to release the old wiper blade. Pull the new one in place until you hear a click. 

So that you can care for your new wheels, heed the maintenance schedules. Safeguard your owner’s manual, as it will tell you the type of engine you need, how to replace parts and the recommended oil, fluids and parts you need. So if you find yourself searching for used cars or pre-owned fords for sale in your spare time, knowing and following these tips can help prepare you for the joys of owning a car.

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Tags: auto, lights, oil, tire, windshield

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