If you had access to a car while living at home, chances are your parents took care of its maintenance or offered reminders as to when to take it in for service. When you’re on your own, car maintenance becomes your responsibility. Yes, it can be expensive and time consuming, but the investment you make today will save you money down the road.
Don’t be like the 1/3 of college students who change their oil less than two times a year because they simply forget to do it. Your car won’t magically take care of itself. Get in the habit of regular car maintenance and quit relying on your folks to remind you to get your tires rotated or your oil changed.
Below we take you through some of the rudimentary things you should be doing to ensure your car stays in tip top shape.
Every Other Fill-up, Do These Three Things
Instead of standing at the gas pump and reading the advertisements for a credit card while you wait for your tank to fill, use that time to give your car a quick check-up (and cleaning) by performing three simple tasks:
1. Clean windshield
A dirty, bug-splattered windshield is a safety hazard, as it obscures your view of the road. So give it a regular cleaning. Using the spongy part of the gas station squeegee, soak the whole windshield with the cleaning fluid. Then pull the squeegee tightly from the middle of the windshield to the sides, finishing off the remaining streaks by pulling it top to bottom. This is especially important after an extended drive on the highway when your windshield is littered with insect carcasses and using your car’s washing fluid and wipers to remove them only creates a big, smeary mess that obscures your line of sight even more.
If your headlights are dirty, give them a squeegeeing as well.
Your wipers have a role to play in keeping the windshield clean too, but we’ll talk about them later this week.
2. Check tire pressure
Maintaining proper tire pressure will keep you safe and even save you a little dough. Improperly inflated tires — and this may mean over-inflated or under-inflated — don’t handle or stop as well as tires with the correct pressure. They also increase your chance of a blow out. Plus, tires with the correct pressure have a longer life and increase your fuel efficiency.
3. Check oil level and top off as needed
Motor oil is essential to your car’s performance. Its most important job is to lubricate all the moving parts in your engine so they don’t grind and tear themselves into dysfunction. It also transfers heat away from the combustion cycle and traps and holds all the nasty byproducts of combustion, sending it to the oil filter. If your engine doesn’t have enough oil, your car is at risk of going kaput.