Simple tips for owning and maintaining a car

On the road or in the garage, there are simple things you can do to maintain your car.

Mechanic working under a car hood.

You know how much your car means to you. It brings you and your family freedom and security. So whether it's on the road or in the garage, there are simple things you can do to minimize the risk of crashes, breakdowns and theft. While your vehicle owner's manual can provide you with some of this information, here are some helpful tips from us to you.

Tips while shopping for a vehicle

You realize how important it is to make an informed decision. So before buying a used vehicle or new car, truck or SUV that will transport you and your loved ones, you'll naturally want to do some research. Some of the things to look for include how the vehicle performed in crash tests and a list of its safety features. Here are a few others:

Take your time

Buying a new car is a big investment, so start by considering what type of car you need. Will it be used primarily for commuting? Driving kids to school and around town? Target the kind of vehicle that best matches your lifestyle. Do some research online to find out what the typical asking price is for your preferred vehicle, then begin your dealership visits or online car buying experience.

Check car loan interest rates

Most car dealers offer financing, but you may be able to find a better rate through your local financial institution. Arranging your own financing could save you money and help you negotiate a lower rate with the dealership.

How to maintain your car to last many years

According to AutomotiveResearch.com, almost 8% of consumers say they've delayed routine maintenance on their cars. In addition, millennials and owners of vehicles that are 8 years and older, tend to delay routine maintenance. Neglecting preventive auto maintenance means easy fixes can become expensive repairs down the road.

Importance of car maintenance

  • It saves you money. A car is a big investment and preventive maintenance will help you preserve the value of your car. The longer you own your car the more you save.
  • It increases longevity. Today's vehicles can last 250,000 miles or more with regular maintenance.
  • It improves safety. If your car is properly maintained, your car will be less likely to breakdown. A malfunction can cause an accident or leave you stranded. Regular maintenance will help you identify a tire that's about to blow or brake pads that need to be replaced before it becomes dangerous.
  • It maximizes efficiency. Something as small as a misfiring spark plug can affect gas mileage and regular maintenance can help deliver the manufacturer's estimated fuel economy.

What preventive car maintenance should I perform?

You should follow generally accepted maintenance schedules, such as the car maintenance schedule in your vehicle owner's manual or find it online at Edmunds.com. However, these are simply guidelines. How often, where and how you drive affects the type and timing of service your vehicle needs.

Although you can perform some repairs yourself, it's best to have your car inspected by an ASE-certified technician at least twice each year, in the spring and fall, to determine maintenance needs.

Consider following this general car maintenance schedule but remember your car's owner's manual should be your number one reference:

Every month

  • Check tire pressure and adjust if necessary.
  • Replenish windshield washer fluid, but never with water.
  • Check engine oil level every 1,000 to 1,500 miles.
  • Wash your car. In the winter, wash it twice a month to help prevent salt and rust damage.

Every three months

  • Inspect automatic transmission and steering fluid and replenish as needed.
  • Check tire condition and replace if worn or damaged. Consider changing to winter tires if you may need more tread depth for a snowy winter. Your inspection should look for:
    • Uneven or irregular wear on the tread, and
    • Cuts or bruises on the sides.

Every six months

  • Inspect wiper blades and replace if cracked, cut, torn, streaking or squeaking.
  • Visit a certified technician for additional maintenance recommendations.
  • Change your engine oil every six months or 7,500 miles.
  • Check your emergency kit and re-stock it, if needed.

What to do if you're in a car accident

Proper maintenance can protect the value of your car. Knowing some tips for backing up and driving in parking lots can protect not only your car but you and your loved ones. But even the safest driver can get into a crash. If you end up in a crash, you should know what steps to take after an auto accident. You should also know what to do if your car is damaged in a parking lot or a hit-and-run.

You should also teach your teen driver how to deal with an accident, which can be stressful and traumatic the first time it happens.

Car theft prevention tips

Another way to preserve the value of your vehicle is to know how to prevent car theft and gas theft. While you're considering deterring thieves, also consider taking steps to protect your smartphone from identity theft and stop package theft.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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