Car Maintenance: 10 Tips to Take Care of Your Vehicle

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Article Contents
Picture of By <span>Aren Mirzaian</span>
By Aren Mirzaian

Updated on April 19, 2024

Visit author page
Picture of By <span>Aren Mirzaian</span>
By Aren Mirzaian

Updated April 19, 2024

Visit author page

3 minute read

Article Contents

Owning a car is not just about the freedom of the open road or the convenience of getting from point A to B, it also comes with a list of responsibilities. Ensuring your vehicle’s durability, safety, and performance hinges on consistent car maintenance. This guide provides ten essential car maintenance tips that every car owner should know, whether auto insurance covers maintenance and more.

Familiarize Yourself with Your Owner’s Manual

Before doing anything, familiarize yourself with your car’s owner’s manual, just as you would with instructions for a new gadget. This manual outlines your car’s features, maintenance schedule, and safety measures. It guides you on routine tasks like oil changes, filter replacements, and the right type of motor oil for your vehicle. Understanding your manual is key to safe and effective car maintenance.

10 Tips to Take Care of Your Vehicle

  1. Regular Oil Checks and Changes: The lifeblood of your car is its oil. Regularly checking and changing your car’s oil is paramount. Over time, engine oil breaks down and becomes less effective at lubricating and cooling engine components. Typically, getting an oil change for your car every 5,000 to 7,000 kilometres or semi-annually is advisable. However, if you notice any potential problems, it’s best to get it inspected earlier. Remember, clean oil equals a happy engine!
  2. Keep an Eye on Fluid Levels: Your car relies on various fluids for smooth operation. Apart from engine oil, ensure regular brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, and coolant checks. Low levels can lead to performance issues or even severe damage.
  3. Maintain Tire Health: Tires are your vehicle’s only contact with the road, making their maintenance vital. It’s important to monitor tire pressure frequently, maintaining it at the level recommended by the manufacturer. Also, monitor tire tread depth to ensure adequate grip and safety. This is especially important during wintertime.
  4. Brake Care is Crucial: Never ignore your car’s braking system. Suppose you hear squealing or feel a wobble when braking; it’s time for a check-up. Regular brake inspections are a must and can prevent costly repairs.
  5. Battery Maintenance: A dead battery can leave you stranded, requiring extra care in winter. Check your battery’s terminals for corrosion and ensure it’s securely mounted. Most batteries last about three to five years, so keep track of their age and replace them when necessary.
  6. Replace Windshield Wipers: Visibility is key to safe driving. Windshield wipers degrade over time, losing their effectiveness. Replace them every six to twelve months or whenever you notice a decline in performance.
  7. Regular Filter Replacements: Your car has filters (oil, air, fuel, cabin) need regular checks and replacements. These filters are crucial for keeping contaminants out of your engine and cabin.
  8. Keep It Clean: Regular washing and waxing do more than just make your car look good. They protect the paint and body from rust and decay. Don’t forget to clean the interior to maintain a pleasant and healthy driving environment. If your car has leather seats, we have a guide explaining how to take care of them in detail.
  9. Inspect Belts and Hoses: Check belts and hoses for cracks, leaks, or wear. These components are vital for your vehicle’s electrical, air conditioning, power steering, and cooling system.
  10. Check Spark Plugs: Spark plugs are essential for engine efficiency and may need early replacement if you notice slow acceleration, starting issues, odd noises, or poor fuel economy. Check your owner’s manual for their location. Opt for longer-lasting iridium plugs over copper ones. If the plugs’ tips are blackened, clean or replace them.
10 tips to take care of your vehicle

Choosing the Best Place for Car Maintenance

Professional service is recommended for those not skilled in car maintenance to avoid further issues. Over 75% of vehicle repairs and maintenance are done at service centers, with only 13% to 18% of car owners opting for DIY. Canadians typically service their vehicles up to four times annually, showing strong loyalty, as 70% repeatedly use the same service centers each year, so we recommend you choose where you repair your vehicle wisely.

You have two primary options: a car dealership or a local mechanic shop.

  • Dealership Maintenance: Dealerships, though often more expensive, employ factory-trained mechanics specializing in your car model. They use factory parts and can access your car’s complete history, including service records and warranty information. This allows for comprehensive service, including recall and update checks.
  • Local Shop Maintenance: Local mechanics typically offer more affordable services. They can handle maintenance tasks in your owner’s manual, like brake and transmission service. However, they might not specialize in your specific car model. Research the shop’s reputation before visiting.

Both options have their advantages and drawbacks. Your choice should consider your budget and specific maintenance needs.

Routine Car Maintenance Schedule

Refer to your driver’s manual for specific maintenance recommendations for your car. The following is a general guideline, which may vary based on your car’s brand and model.

Routine car maintenance schedule

Additional Tips:

  • Consider maintenance fees when buying a new or used car.
  • Adhere to scheduled maintenance for vehicle longevity.
  • Keep a record of all maintenance receipts and services.

Annual Vehicle Maintenance Expenses

Maintenance is a big part of the total cost of owning a car, and it can be costly. In the second quarter of 2022, Canadian families spent almost $3.5 billion on vehicle maintenance and repairs, an increase from $3.1 billion in the same period in 2021 and nearly $2.3 billion in 2020.

Expect to spend about $1,500 per year on car maintenance. Setting aside $100 to $125 each month for routine services like oil and fluid changes and filter replacements is wise. While some months might incur no expenses, others could bring higher maintenance costs.

Does Car Insurance Cover Maintenance?

Typically, car insurance does not cover standard vehicle maintenance. Insurance offers financial protection against unforeseen expenses arising from accidents, theft, or other incidents covered under your policy. On the other hand, regular maintenance is considered an out-of-pocket expense but still an essential part of vehicle ownership.

The Bottom Line

Regular vehicle maintenance is not just about preventing breakdowns; it’s about ensuring safety, efficiency, and longevity. Following these car maintenance tips can keep your vehicle running smoothly and avoid costly repairs. Remember, a well-maintained car is a reliable companion on the road.

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