7 Easy Car Maintenance Tips

Automotive air filters are made of a special fabric that traps dust and bugs before they enter the engine.

Automotive air filters are made of a special fabric that traps dust and bugs before they enter the engine.

I've performed basic maintenance on our latest car since new. It now has more than 255,000 miles on the odometer and is still running reliably. My "secret" is easy car maintenance. Of course, I take it to my favorite mechanic for the big stuff, but because of regular maintenance there isn't much big stuff to fix. Here are my easy steps for keeping your car out of the shop and on the road longer. Click on any of the tips for more information.

1. Gas Pump Inspection

Where to start? How can you start the habit of car care without planning your life around it? The best place start, in my opinion, is car maintenance at the gas pump. You have to buy gas, right? And you have to stand there while the tank fills up, right? So why not make those few minutes productive and go through some easy-to-remember steps that can make a difference between an expensive repair and a drive-forever car? It really can be that easy to start your car care habit. In fact, that’s what this section is all about. Maybe you’ll decide to hire someone else to change the car’s oil and tackle other tasks, but if you can get into the habit of checking it every time you fill it up, your car can live longer—and make your life a little easier—with some easy car maintenance.

2. Check Under the Hood

Doing your own “maintenance” at the gas pump prepares you for the next step: driveway maintenance. Even if you’ve never popped the hood on a car you now can make a habit of car care with just a few minutes. Check under the hood. This section offers easy care steps that you can tackle about once a month to keep your car on the road longer. They are basic, but important tasks that will take you just a few minutes. About the only tool you’ll need is a shop rag or old washcloth to keep your hands clean. If you prefer, you can also wear surgical gloves to ensure that oil and gunk won’t ruin your manicure. All of these checks are done at the front of your car, so pop the hood and let’s get started on easy car maintenance..

3. Check the Cooling System

About once a month you check the coolant level in your car. Once a year, while you’re doing that job you can perform a closer inspection to check the cooling system and make some adjustments. Your car’s cooling system uses a water pump (or, more correctly, a coolant pump) to circulate a mixture of antifreeze and water through the engine to reduce heat build-up. Aluminum engines don’t need as much coolant to keep them in a safe temperature range as older iron engines. Click the headline for more easy car maintenance.

4. Replace the Air Filter

During a year, your car may pull in 7,000 to 10,000 gallons of air to be mixed with gasoline as the engine’s fuel. You certainly don’t want dust and bugs inside your engine where they can cause problems. So your car has an air filter. Early cars didn’t have air filters and later ones were relatively crude. However, today’s major-brand air filters are efficient and require no maintenance other than periodic replacement. Here's how to easily replace the air filter on your car.

5. Replace Engine Coolant

One of the most important car maintenance job is making sure that the engine has enough coolant to keep the engine running cool for many miles. Coolant, like everything else on a car, wears out with use and time. So it makes sense to replace coolant periodically. Many car manufacturers recommend coolant be replaced with new stuff about every two years or 30,000 miles. Here are simple instruction on how to replace engine coolant.

6. Replace Car Fuses

The weakest link in an electrical chain is the fuse. That’s by design. If a circuit gets too much power, you want the fuse to blow rather than the radio, computer, or other gadget. That make’s sense. Also it makes sense to first check the car’s fuse system when something electrical that should work quits. Here's how to check and replace car fuses.

7. Replace a Car Battery

Your car’s battery is a storage container that gathers electrical power (produced by the engine) and stores it for use by lights, motors, relays, and other gadgets. So it’s important that the battery hold the charge. Here's how to replace a car battery.

For more help maintaining and repairing your car, check out the Fix-It Club's Car Repair Fix-It Guides. We have more tips for easy car maintenance.

--Dan "The Fix-It Man" Ramsey

Fix-It Club

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