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7 tips for proper car maintenance

Your car is a well-oiled machine … right? If you're feeling a little guilty about neglecting it lately (or if you're an avid oil-checker), check out our 7 easy but important ways to keep your car in tip-top condition.

The car maintenance checklist

Here are 7 easy steps to a long-running car you can rely on.

1

Keep your tires in shape

It's easy to take those tires for granted. But according to safercar.gov, more than 11,000 tow-away (that is, pretty serious) crashes annually are caused, in part, by tire issues.

  • Check air pressure. Underinflated tires are 3 times more likely to cause a serious accident than their properly pumped counterparts. Use a pressure gauge to test them at least once a month and make sure the pressure matches the recommendation listed in your vehicle's manual or on the tire sidewall.
  • Rotate your tires. For longer tread life, rotate every 6,000 to 8,000 miles.
  • Check the alignment when you rotate the tires. Poor alignment can lead to uneven tread wear.
2

Change the oil and check the fluids

As a general rule, check your oil each month and change it as directed by your owner's manual. If you don't drive that frequently, you can likely go a bit longer.

Oil isn't the only fluid your car needs. Around the time you change your oil, remember to check your power-steering, automatic transmission, wiper, and brake fluids.

3

Test the lights

Flip on your headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals while your car is parked and make sure each one is working. Aside from being a safety hazard, a broken bulb might get you a fix-it ticket. If a bulb is out, take your car to an expert who can determine whether it's the bulb or the fuse that needs replacing.

4

Replace windshield wipers

If you notice that your wipers aren't working like they used to, don't let the problem linger until you end up in a downpour with no view of the road ahead. Snapping in a couple of new blades is a quick and affordable fix.

5

Check your air filter

Pull out the filter and hold it up to a strong light. If you can't see light through it, it's time to replace it. A clean air filter can improve your car's performance.

6

Give the core components a once-over

There's nothing too technical here, but you can help prevent overheating or electrical failure in your car by simply cleaning debris from the radiator and making sure the battery cables are securely connected and corrosion-free.

7

Regular check-ups

Many other car-care tasks — inspecting the exhaust, flushing the cooling system, and replacing valves, hoses, and brakes — can be done less frequently by experts in a repair shop. Scheduling regular tune-ups will help ensure that your car gets total maintenance.

Spending a little on your car now can save you more later

Sure, proper car maintenance helps you spend more time on the road and less in a mechanic's garage. But you already knew that. What you should also know is that taking diligent care of your car could save you a bunch on car insurance.

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Your well-kept car or truck will be safer to drive than a neglected one. By avoiding accidents, you can extend your claims-free streak. And the better your driving record, the less you can expect to pay for your car insurance policy thanks to lower rates and potential safe-driving discounts.

To see what your good-driving history can save you on a new auto policy, get a free car insurance quote today.

Related links

Tire maintenance in greater detail
Learn more about the wheels that make your car go.

Car insurance policy maintenance
Get a personalized report from our Coverage Counselor® to see if your coverages or limits need some fine-tuning.

Defects and recalls
Part of maintaining your car is staying on top of recalls and defects.