Lots of people have almost mystical relationships with their cars. They get inside every morning and simply hope (pray?) for the best. It’s one thing if you own a new car. You can pretty much be assured that it’s going to get up and go every time you use it for at least a couple of years. But for those of us who try to depend on undependable older vehicles, the situation can be much more tenuous.
Right now, your older car might feel like a ticking time bomb. For those of us who can’t well afford a sudden breakdown and the accompanying repairs, the fear is real every time we set out on the highway or even drive across town to the grocery store. If you’re like most people, you’re not a mechanical expert with a specialty in consumer vehicles. You just want to get in your car and have it take you from point A to point B. But to have a reason for this hope, you’ve got to engage in some preventative maintenance from time to time. Not only will this prevent costly repairs in the future, it’ll deepen your relationship with your vehicle.
Insurance. Can insurance has nothing to do with car maintenance, you might say. And while, no, car insurance is not part of the car itself, doing car insurance wrong will cost you lots of time and money, just like a mechanical breakdown. That’s why it’s worth your time to re-evaluate your auto insurance policy every now and then. Your current provider might offer you a much better rate if you complain or threaten to go somewhere else with your business. And if you do decide to set up a new policy with another provider, you’re almost assured to get low introductory rates, and maybe even better coverage.
Your Fluids. This will seem obvious and elementary to some of our readers, but others still won’t do this on a regular basis. If you can manage to get a driver’s license and drive yourself safely to a place more than one hundred yards from your parked position, you can handle managing your own fluids. Car fluids like coolant and oil are so essential to your car’s integrity that letting them go low could damage multiple car systems beyond repair.
Belts and Tires. If you don’t know how long it has been since you changed your belts and tires, it’s time to take a peek. Tires are easy enough to see when they’ve outlived their normal lifespan. Belts are a little tougher, and eyeballing their decline depends on when they were manufactured and their composition. If you don’t know what to do, just ask the guy who changes your oil or rotates your tires next time. These are easy things to check. Replacing belts is cheap. Tires are expensive. But catching both before they break can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Follow sensible preventative maintenance schedules to get the most life out of your car for the least amount of money.