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Keep your car running smoothly with some routine DIY maintenance.
posted in: Financial Wellness
by Christy McFarland

4 ways to help keep your car out of the shop

Taking care of your car can save you money in the long run. We know life gets busy, and it’s easy to prioritize your wheels last. So here are four simple steps you can take to keep your ride running smoothly.

1. Clean your battery

A corroded battery could keep your car from starting, which could lead to a tow truck and visit to the shop. Avoid that hassle and cost with a wire brush and a clean battery! 

Here’s what you do if your battery is looking corroded. Turn off your car. Remove your battery terminals (always start with the negative cable). Mix a little baking soda and water and use it to clean the top of the battery with a wire brush, then rinse it off with some water. Make sure the battery is completely dry before replacing the battery terminals.

2. Regular oil changes

Making sure you get your oil changed regularly and on time is vital to keeping your engine clean and running efficiently. They used to say to change your oil every three months or 3,000 miles. But, cars nowadays can usually go at least 5,000 miles. Refer to your owner’s manual to find out exactly how long you should go between oil changes. 

If you know how to change your own oil, great! Otherwise, oil change shops are usually pretty affordable. Many of them will even throw in a complete vehicle check for no additional charge!

3. Air filters

How many times have you paid extra during your oil change to have them change your air filter?  Did you know, it’s really not that difficult (or expensive) to do yourself? All you need is the new air filter, which usually only runs about $10.  

Pop your hood and look for your filter. Check your owner’s manual if you are having trouble finding it, but it’s usually in a black box. Open up the box and take a picture of the filter. This will help you remember which way the filter fits into the box. Replace the filter and badaboom, you’re done. Easy peezy. 

4. Tires

Checking your tires regularly does more than prevent a flat. It could save your life. Imagine driving 70 mph down a highway and one of your tires gives out. Or, trying to stop on icy or wet roads with tires that have barely any tread left on them. You don’t want to see how much life you can squeeze out of your tires if they’re clearly ready to be changed. 

Yes, tires are expensive. But, the alternative could be worse. Here’s how you know if your tires are ready to be swapped out. Use the penny test! Point President Lincoln’s head downward and insert a penny into the grooves of your tire. If any of Lincoln’s’ head is covered by tire tread, your tires still have life left in them. However, if you can see Lincoln’s entire head, it’s time to invest in new tires. 

If you notice any other issues with your tires, such as a bulge or bubble from hitting a curb or a pothole, you should take it in to be repaired or replaced.  

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