You just bought a new car – this is an exciting moment for anyone. But to make sure you get the most out of your investment, you'll want to develop a maintenance plan to keep your car in good working condition. So where do you start?
Developing a Maintenance Plan
The first step is to find a mechanic or shop that you can rust. Talk to friends and family for their recommendations. Try to find one that will work within your budget and is close to your home in case of an emergency.
The next step is to consult your new vehicle’s owner’s manual – some brands recommend maintenance at different mileage milestones or based on driving conditions. Any maintenance plan should be based on the recommendations contained within the vehicle’s manual and include the following items.
Tires. Make sure they are properly inflated to the manufacturer's specified pressure. Tire gauges are cheap and easy to use. Tires should be replaced when tread wear indicators are showing between the treads. Ask your local tire dealer if you are unsure how to identify tread wear indicators. Check your tires every other day for pressure and every week for wear or damage. Have them replaced when they become worn beyond acceptable limits.
Oil. Oil is the blood of your car, and without it, the car isn't going to go far or quietly. Have your go mechanic demonstrate how to check your oil properly, and have the oil changed as recommended in the owner’s manual.
Windows. Make sure that all windows, mirrors and lights are clean and not broken. Replace any broken lights or mirrors as soon as possible. Have small windshield cracks by a windshield repair center to determine whether the windshield can be repaired or needs to be replaced. Check regularly for cracks and damage.
Brakes, belts, and battery. The braking systems of modern cars are designed to be replaced periodically to maintain maximum braking efficiency. If you notice ANY problems with the brakes, take your car to have the brakes checked immediately. If the brakes fail, you can have a very serious crash.
Check the battery once per month for corrosion and clean it or have it cleaned and as needed. Avoid running your battery down, if possible. Even with a jump start, it's hard on the battery. Batteries do eventually get old. If you must replace your battery, also check the alternator to make sure that it is still functioning properly.
Interior. Clean and vacuum the interior as needed. The interior is often a point of selling power when it comes time to trade the car in or sell it. While many may not care about the oil or tires, if the interior looks a little dirty, the deal is off. If you ever want to trade the car in or sell it, every quarter spent at a pay vacuum will be paid back to you with interest!
Fluids. The other lifeblood of the car are the various fluids. Coolant, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, and other fluids need to be checked at a minimum of once per week. Ask your mechanic to demonstrate the method to check these.
Lights. You can check your own lights if you have someplace you can park near reflective glass windows, or you can ask a friend to walk around your car while you turn on different lights. Make sure to check your headlights, taillights, reverse lights, brake lights, and turn signals.
Windshield wipers. It's not difficult to replace worn wiper blades yourself. Replace just the blades once a year as needed before the rainy season. You can also replace the entire wiper assembly if needed. If you do a lot of driving in wet weather conditions, you may also want to apply a water repellent treatment to your windshield.
Emission control systems. Depending on where you live, you may be required to get your car checked for emissions periodically. This is usually part of the MOT inspection. Generally, a professional must perform the diagnosis. Oxygen sensors and EGR valves are two common culprits.
Developing a maintenance plan and following it will help keep your car safe and in good condition. It will also ensure that you will be able to drive it for a long time and eventually sell it for a good price. If you have any other questions about caring for your vehicle, just let us know. The crew at Scott Sherman Auto Care is always happy to help.