Basic Car Maintenance to Keep Your Car Humming
There are a few basic auto repair maintenance tasks you may be able to do yourself.
Experts generally recommend changing your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, although the exact schedule varies by manufacturer, make and model.1
Check your owner's manual for details. Make sure the vehicle is on a level surface, and locate the dipstick; it's usually labeled "transmission." Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, dip it back in and remove it to check the level; top off the fluid if it is below the minimum fill line on the stick. Check the color of the fluid as well, since a reddish color is normal, but brown indicates old or burned transmission fluid, which will need to be drained and replaced.
Windshield wiper fluid is often taken for granted — until you run out. To avoid this mishap, check your wiper fluid level every time you get gas. Make sure your vehicle is level, open the hood and look for the white reservoir, usually marked with a windshield symbol. Open the cap, and top off the fluid if it's low.
A clean air filter prevents dirt or other contaminants from clogging the engine, which can decrease performance, gas mileage and engine life. According to Edmunds.com, air filters should be changed every 12,000 miles or annually, whichever comes first; people who live in dusty or sandy locales should change them every three to six months. The air filter is located near the top of the engine, usually in black casing; to open it, use a pry tool to release the locking clips; remove any screws, and replace the filter.
Experts recommend replacing tires at least every six years, although some tires are designed for up to 10 years of use.2 Tires with worn traction pose a significant risk of skidding, hydroplaning and blowouts. Use a tread depth gauge, found at most automotive stores, to check the tread; there are even smartphone apps that can measure your tread depth.
Although these components don't require as much maintenance as the engine, regular upkeep can save you from more expensive repairs. See more information on how to finance minor and extensive auto repairs now.
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