As I stepped out of the car and waved goodbye to my friend, I noticed the front right tire of her car was almost completely bald. I looked at her and said “Danielle, how can you drive on this?” Either she suffers from the Zoolander-esque inability to turn left, or she simply neglects to take care of her tires (and by the looks of things, the rest of the car as well). I didn’t have time to lecture her on the dangers of driving on a tire with no tread, but I did tell her to go out and buy new tires right away, and was able to explain to her that if she rotated them every 6,000 miles, she could probably extend the life of them, even beyond their expressed mileage rating.
As I boarded the plane, I thought about my friend and realized that she has probably never had someone explain to her the value of vehicle maintenance, so for her edification (as well as yours), here are some simple tips that will help down the road:
Rotate your tires every 6,000 miles. This will extend the life of your tires, which means you will not have to replace them as often. It will also improve fuel efficiency. This is easy to do on your own, or you can pay a shop to do it for about $20. When shopping for tires, ask the dealer if they offer free lifetime tire rotation—then someone else can get their hands dirty instead.
Keep your tires at their proper air pressure. President Obama may have been criticized for suggesting that Americans should do this to help with energy demand, but the truth is maintaining proper tire pressure does improve fuel efficiency. Check the sidewalls of your tires for the recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) and always check the pressure before the tire has been driven on.
Perform regularly scheduled maintenance. We all know that you are suppose to change your oil every 3,000 miles, but how often should you replace your spark plugs, transmission fluid, or engine coolant? Your vehicle probably came with a recommended maintenance schedule that answers these questions, but if not, visit www.trustmymechanic.com for a schedule that works for most vehicles. Performing regularly scheduled maintenance not only improves the performance and fuel efficiency, but it will also extend the life of the vehicle.
Set aside money every month for vehicle maintenance and repair. A broken fuel pump could cost you $500 or more to fix. Scheduled maintenance at 60,000 miles could run you close to $750. Fixing a transmission problem starts at around $1,500. Could you afford any of these expenses right now? Hopefully your answer is yes, but if not, start setting aside a little each month so that you have money available to pay for these expenses when they happen.
Keep good records. If you ever plan to sell your vehicle, having a record of all completed maintenance adds to the resale value. Keep a notebook of all the things you’ve had done, and be prepared to show it to any potential buyers so that they can see how well you took care of the vehicle.
The bottom line: the biggest reason to maintain your vehicle is because it is so much less expensive to drive the car you have than it is to purchase of newer one. Maintaining your vehicle will save you money in the long run.