Basic car care does not require any sophisticated understanding of cars or their systems. A few simple steps, some regular checks, and addressing issues promptly can greatly extend the life of your car.
Regular checks: Basic car care is often simply a matter of popping open the hood and taking a look at the engine of your car. Some basic car care starts with examining the exterior. Check your tyres to make sure they are inflated properly. This should be an actual check with a tyre pressure gauge.
Other visual checks that require almost no vehicle mechanics knowledge include the following:
1. Body and bumper damage, which should be monitored for insurance purposes
2. Leaking fluids under the car, including oil, power and brake fluid, transmission
3. Smoke in vehicle exhaust
4. Engine or fluid warning lights
Under the hood: Much of the day-to-day driving maintenance for your car must occur with the hood opened and up, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a mechanic. The most important things to monitor and check regularly include the following:
1. Engine oil level and cleanliness
2. Antifreeze/coolant level
3. Brake and power steering fluid levels
4. Transmission fluid
Make sure the fluids are above the minimum line, and below the maximum line. Other things to be watchful for in and around the engine include loose electrical or tube connections. You should also keep an eye on your car’s battery, and be aware of its age. Batteries should be replaced every five years.
Changing the Oil: One of the most important things you can do to maintain your vehicle is to change the oil and oil filter regularly. Some mechanics recommend changing the oil every 2,000-3,000 miles.
Your oil should be relatively clean, but still have a dark color to it once it runs through your engine. You should regularly check your oil level, and maintain it between the minimum and maximum fill lines.
Other Replacements and Maintenance
Other important components and parts of your vehicle and engine that need regular maintenance and infrequent replacement include the following:
1. Air filter
2. Headlight, turn signals, and brake lamps
3. Spark plugs and cables
4. Engine timing belt
5. Windshield wipers
Most engine tuneups are either actual motor work, or electrical tune-ups consisting of spark plug, cable, and distributor cap replacement.
The biggest thing to remember with ongoing car maintenance is to address issues promptly, including engine knocking or other noises, and do your best to try to understand what may be going on before you visit the mechanic.