This post is a 3-part series on automotive maintenance. We shared an article from Car Bibles this past month about automotive maintenance and 20 essential components for it. That article can be found here.
5. "Check fluid levels"
This needs to be done monthly if your car has more than 60K miles on it. As many as you can check: engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant/antifreeze, brake fluid, power steering fluid, clutch fluid, and washer fluid. Be safe and don't check the coolant after the engine has been running. Be careful not to contaminate the fluids when checking them. Even if your car is in good condition, don't expect warning bells when a leak starts or the engine starts to consume a little oil. It's actually normal for many engines to consume oil from the factory.
6. "Replace spark plugs"
You should know how often the manufacturer recommends changing the spark plugs, but tune-ups aren't what they were 30 years ago. Spark plugs are usually not the culprit when your car starts running rough since most of them last 100K miles.
7. "Stick to the octane rating recommended by car manufacturer"
The quality of fuel you're using in your car is as important the octane rating that the manufacturer recommends. Purchase fuel only at Top Tier stations, a list of which can be found here. Top Tier fuel has the best additives that will keep your engine clean and efficient. You won't have to worry about purchasing bottles of additives and paying for intake cleanings if you only use Top Tier, proper octane gas.
8. "Use superior detailing supplies"
Really this should be your motto with all aspects of your car. Why would you spend thousands of dollars on something and then buy the cheapest supplies to maintain it? You don't have to buy the most expensive items certainly (no italian leather wax made from cattle only eating tibetan blue grass), but set your default attitude to using OEM parts or following the manufacturer's recommendations, inside the car and out. Remember the universal truth: you can't decide to be economical with a repair if you aren't regularly proactive with your maintenance.
There are quite a few other points, some of them unnecessarily repetitive. Many cars are "overengineered" or "overbuilt" for safety so they will survive years of neglect. But won't you feel happier and safer if you always know your car is in good shape? It's probably worth it to make sacrifices to save so that you can buy good rather than jumping right in to buy cheap.
Imagine all of the costs associated with buying a car. Sales tax and registration and inspections and services and repairs and fuel and insurance and modifications. Many people step over a dollar to pick up a dime by buying a new car rather than fixing their old one. Modern alternatives like renting a car (Enterprise will pick you up) and Uber are much much cheaper than owning a third car. Maybe if you have a local bus system or a carpooling option, you don't even need a second car.
Thanks for reading!