3 Basic Car Maintenance Tips Every Driver Should Know

Regular car maintenance is essential to keeping your vehicle running smoothly and preventing costly repairs down the road. But if you’re not mechanically inclined, the thought of doing your own car maintenance can be daunting. Never fear! Here are a few basic tips on how to do an oil change, tune-up, and tire rotation. Read on to learn more.

Changing Your Car’s Oil

The engine is the heart of your car. It’s composed of a lot of metal moving parts, and thousands of small explosions happen inside it every second. However, it needs to run smoothly, and that’s where oil comes in. Oil minimizes friction between the moving parts so that the engine doesn’t seize, and that’s why it’s important to change your oil regularly. Depending on your car’s make and model, you should change your oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or every 3 to 6 months, whichever comes first.

When changing your oil yourself, be sure to use the correct type and grade of oil for your car (usually listed in your owner’s manual). There are many types of oil, but the most important thing to take note of is its grade. Take note of your area’s climate, too-depending on the grade, oil becomes thick or thin at different temperatures. Also, don’t overfill the engine – too much oil can actually do damage.

The steps to change your car’s oil are pretty simple.

  1. Make sure the engine is cool and that the car is parked on a level surface. Lifting your using a jack may make this easier, but it also puts your vehicle in an incline. If you have a two-post automotive lift, you’ll have a much easier time, but these are more often found in professional garages and repair shops. You can also use an under-car roller so that you can go under your car without having to lift it.
  2. Locate the oil drain plug (it’s usually near the bottom of the engine).
  3. Place a container right under the socket to catch oil. Use something that can hold the amount that you will put in the engine. You can either use a washbasin or an oil drain pan.
  4. Use a socket wrench to remove the drain plug, then wait until all the old oil drains out. If you have an air compressor, you can go back to the top and use the nozzle on the engine’s oil cap to push out oil remnants once the draining oil has slowed down to a trickle. You may also need this if you’re using a jack, too.
  5. Once the oil has finished draining, put the drain plug back.If you plan to replace the oil filter, this is when you do it. Use your hands and a rag (or an oil filter removal tool) to unscrew the old one. A lot of oil may still come out, so be prepared. Lubricate the edge of the new one and twist it on.
  6. Replace the drain plug and tighten it with a wrench.
  7. Pour the new oil into the engine through the oil cap. Use a funnel for a mess-free pour.
  8. Start up the engine for a minute or two to help the new oil circulate, and check for leaks while you’re waiting. You’re done!

How to Do a Tune-Up

Nowadays, a tune-up is a simple procedure that involves checking and replacing a lot of small things for basic maintenance, such as:

  • Adjusting or replacing the spark plugs
  • Checking/replacing the air filter
  • Inspecting/tightening the belts
  • Checking/topping off fluids

Like oil changes, tune-ups are typically needed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles or every 3 to 6 months. However, some newer cars can go much longer between tune-ups – up to 100,000 miles in some cases! Again, consult your owner’s manual for specific recommendations.

How to Rotate Your Tires

Tire rotation is important because it helps tires wear evenly and prevents premature tread wear. The general rule of thumb is that you should rotate your tires every 5,000 miles or with each oil change – whichever comes first. When rotating your tires yourself, be sure to consult your owner’s manual for the proper order in which to place them on your car. You’ll also want to check the air pressure in all four tires after they’ve been rotated and adjust as needed.

To rotate your tires, you need at least one jack and some wood or stone blocks to prop your vehicle up while it doesn’t have tires. It’ll be better if you have a two-post lift, but again, most people don’t have that. Anyway, you start by removing the first tire, loosening all lug nuts first in a criss-cross pattern (or a star pattern if you have five or six) before taking them off one by one in the same pattern. Then, take the tire over to the next position, remove that tire, and place the first one into the second one’s spot. Do this until you circle back to the first tire’s spot. Then, you’re done.

Repairing your car at an auto shop can be very expensive. Thankfully, you can handle simple repairs by yourself, including changing a dead battery, replacing windshield wipers, and repairing broken lights. By using aftermarket auto parts rather than OEM ones, which can cost up to 60% more, you can further cut your costs. Most aftermarket part suppliers like Bobcat also offer products that parallel the quality of their OEM counterparts, so you don’t have to worry about the durability of your aftermarket parts.

Final Thoughts

Regular car maintenance is key to keeping your vehicle running well for years to come. And while some procedures may seem daunting if you’re not mechanically inclined, we hope this overview has given you the confidence you need to tackle them yourself. For more detailed instructions (including helpful videos), be sure to consult your owner’s manual or a trusted auto repair shop. Happy wrenching!

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