Car Care 101: How to Keep Your Car in Good Shape, Inside and Out

TV and online ads make it seem quick and easy but in reality, car maintenance takes time and effort. Apart from keeping it clean on the outside, there are also a lot of things going on under the hood that needs regular attention to keep your car running smoothly.

Here are some of the basics that you should be doing regularly to keep your car spic and span, inside and out.

EXTERNAL CARE

● Wash and detail your car regularly. The schedule depends on where you live and how often you use the car. If you live in an urban area with heavy pollution and you drive long distances fairly frequently, you might need to wash your car twice or even three times a month. If you live somewhere with less pollution and/or if you don’t drive that often, washing your car once a month is enough. However, you may need to wash your car more more often if you live near the beach, since the sea salt in the air can eat away at the paint. Another situation when more frequent washings may be required is during the winter. Mud, salt, and snow can do a number on your car’s paint job, wheels, and under chassis.

● Use a microfiber cloth. If you’re more of a DIY person, using a microfiber cloth for your car will help make clean-ups a breeze. They are soft, absorbent, and highly durable, so you can be sure that you can get every bit of dirt, dust, excess wax, and other unwanted particles away from your car and into the cloth. This helps prevent scratching and other superficial damage to your car’s paint job, mirrors, and windows.

● Pay attention to the windshield. A dirty windshield is a safety hazard, so you better keep it as clean as possible at all times. You don’t have to go to the carwash every single time — just use the aforementioned microfiber cloth: soak it in water, squeeze of the excess, and then wipe down the windshield thoroughly. Your wipers and washing fluid also play an important role in keeping your windshield clean, so it’s also wise to take care of these two things, as well.

● Regularly check tire pressure. Do this whenever you fill up the tank or if you haven’t driven your car in a while. Keeping your tires at the right pressure will is one of the best ways to keep your car in good shape and ensure a smooth, safe ride. Tires with the right pressure also reduces the risk of blow outs, and also gets you more miles per liter.

UNDER THE HOOD

● Check the oil level. Engine oil helps lubricate the moving parts in your car’s engine so they don’t suffer from unnecessary friction, which causes them to wear down more quickly. It also helps disperse the heat from the moving parts and clean the engine from sludge. Without enough oil, your car is in danger of overheating or conking out. Don’t wait until your car’s indicator tells you that your engine oil is low; check it regularly — whether on your own or with the help of those more knowledgeable than you — and top up when needed.

● Change the engine oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. Eventually, your engine oil will break down. This happens roughly every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on how often you drive your car and driving conditions. Changing your engine oil regularly will help keep your car in tip-top shape for longer, for the reasons stated above.

● Change the air filter every 12,000 to 30,000 miles. Again, the time between air filter changes depends on driving conditions. If you usually drive on unpaved roads or polluted areas, you might need to change the filters earlier. A clean air filter helps with a lot of things: keeping your engine in good shape, increasing your fuel economy, and reducing your car’s emissions.

● Rotate your tires every 6 months. Check your car manufacturer’s manual for their ideal schedule of tire rotation. Ideally, you should rotate your car tires between 5,000 to 8,000 miles (some bigger cars may go up to 10,000 miles) to equalize the wear patterns of the front and rear tires. This activity will help extend the life of your tires and ensure a smoother drive because the treads are more even.

Lastly, don’t treat your car like a garbage can. Pick up after yourself — a clean car interior will help make driving more comfortable and enjoyable!

Remember: when you take care of your car, it will also take care of you.


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