Car Maintenance Tips For New Drivers

A lot of us need car maintenance tips for new drivers. I mean, even if you’re not a new driver, it pays to know the things that will help keep your car running for a long time.

As a driver, you don’t just get behind the wheel and use your car to move from Point A to Point B. You need to take care of your car.

If you don’t, then you’ll be one of those people who experience a breakdown every now and then. You know what they say about Murphy’s Law? What could go wrong will go wrong, often at the worst possible time.

To avoid getting Murphy’s Law happen to your car, then take good care of it.

Car Maintenance Tips for New (and Old) Drivers

car maintenance tips for new drivers
Image: Robert Couse-Baker

Engine

This is obviously the heart of the car. A car’s response, sound, performance and everything else depend on the engine.

A healthy engine equals a healthy car. You know, like a healthy heart for the human body. To take the metaphor further, if the human body has blood, engines have oil. So you better make sure that the engine has enough oil, especially if you intend to travel long distances.

Have your oil replaced every 5,000 miles or so, depending on what your owner’s manual say. This will help ensure the smooth working of your engine.

Do check the coolant, too. The coolant container is usually labeled with maximum and minimum level markings. Always ensure that your coolant is above the midway between minimum and maximum marks. If you fail to do this, your car might overheat.

Tires and wheels

Tires and wheels require regular maintenance for good performance and safety. Bad tires can often cause slippage during braking and a punctured tire can really ruin your day. It might even endanger your life! If you’re running really fast and one of your tires blows out, your car might tumble and crash.

Always keep a tab of the air pressure in your tires. Make sure it is neither too high nor too low. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure. Keep in mind that the RECOMMENDED tire pressure is NOT the same as the maximum tire pressure. For best performance, fill up tires with nitrogen which not only lasts longer but lengthens the lifespan of the tires.

Tires and wheels
Image: Blondinrikard Fröberg

Having the correct pressure for your tires will also help your car get more miles for every gallon of gas. If you want to have a ready device to keep your pressure levels correct, have a battery jump starter with air compressor handy.

Have your wheel alignment be checked once every 4 months or so. Check to see if your steering head position matches with the head position of your front wheels. A significant mismatch can indicate that your wheel alignment is erroneous. Also, keep an eye on the tread depth of your tires. Too low tread depths are dangerous for tough road conditions.

Type of fuel

People often use high octane or high premium fuel for their cars because they think it is good for their engines. However, high octane fuel is good mainly for sports cars that have high compression engines. You should stick to what your car’s manual says.

Chassis

Although people forget about scratches on the body; but as the car gets old, they should not be neglected at all. Visible areas of the chassis below the painted body line should be covered with paint as soon as possible to avoid any rusting from moisture/rain. Sometimes, bird poop can also ruin your paint if you keep it exposed long enough in the sun. The sooner you wash it off, the better.

Electrical maintenance

Electrical maintenance is very important for any car. This is because not only are all the accessories like your music system powered electrically but the engine itself starts from your battery which in turn charges the battery through an alternator. Even though the battery is only around 12 volts, you should disconnect its terminals before working on any electrical connections.

Always follow wiring diagrams when working on the electrical circuit of your car. Keep in mind that a spark occurs when you reconnect the terminal. However, this is harmless and you do not need to be afraid of that. Also, clean your battery terminals regularly with a wired brush in order to have good electrical contact and also cover your terminals with petroleum jelly in order to prevent the sulfur deposits which tend to occur when your battery gets older.

Lights

Keep in mind that lights are very important for driving safe. Therefore, always check whether your lights are working or not on a regular basis. If indicator or headlamps are not working replace them immediately. While changing headlight lamps, always hold the base metal part and not the glass. Any grease or oil deposits on the glass could make it crack.

Instrument panel

Always keep an eye on the instrument panel as there are several alarm lights designed to signal specific problems. The most common lights are the engine light, the brake oil light, the electrical fault light, the coolant warning light, oil warning light etc. They all warn you about something that needs your attention. Never ignore these lights.

Star Wars Car Maintenance
Image: Jim Bauer

Maintaining a car is not only about performance or increasing the car’s longevity but also about various safety issues. Driving can really be a lot of fun when it is done safely. Therefore, always put the ‘safety first’ measure before anything else in your mind not only while driving your darling car but in its maintenance as well. Check and fix the things that need your attention without the slightest delay.

The car has built-in alert systems and many other things. You just need to be aware of and responsive to what they mean and what are they capable of doing. Most of us can’t wait to drive our first car, but the most important thing in taking care or maintaining your car is proper initial car education. Understanding the basics and treating your car just like another family member is the way to go. Always remember a car is not just another machine which takes you from point A to point B, it can also be an extension of your personality and your life.

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