How to Take Care of Your Car for Beginners

How to Take Care of Your Car for Beginners

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Owning a car is a huge milestone for many of us, but it can be intimidating if you don’t feel like you have a solid base of knowledge around car care. Between maintenance and keeping it as beautiful as the day you drove it off the lot, there are many considerations to keep in mind.

Here at Sticklers 4 Details, we have a deep love for all things car care! If you’re a beginner or simply want to learn how to take better care of your vehicle whether it’s to increase the longevity of the car or to keep it looking nice and shiny, enjoy some of our tips and tricks on car maintenance.

Check Oil Levels

One of the most important things a beginner should learn to do is check their oil level. Oil is vital to the function of your vehicle. It’s tasked with lubricating all of the moving parts in the engine. Without it, all the gears and other moving parts within would grind into each other and quickly wear out.

You can check your oil by pulling out the dipstick located under the hood. Be sure to do this with your engine off. You’ll see two lines at the end of the dipstick. Your levels should be between these lines. If it’s lower, add a quart of oil, wait 10 minutes and check oil levels again. Now use a cloth or napkin to wipe off the dipstick. Be sure the oil is an amber color. If it’s darker or lighter that can indicate an issue. Do this every couple of weeks or before a long journey.

Don’t Miss an Oil Change

Maintaining oil levels isn’t the only consideration car owners should stay on top of. You should also be sure to change it out regularly. Most mechanics recommend changing it every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, or every 6 months. Your vehicle’s manual will have the suggested oil change timeline and/or mileage.

Over time, the oil will wear out and lose its ability to withstand heat and properly lubricate your engine. Changing it out frequently will help keep your car running in top condition and improve your mileage.

Monitor Your Tire Pressure & Tread

Maintaining your tires is another important piece of car care. A big part of this is monitoring your tire pressure monthly. Every car will have slightly different standards on how full the tires should be but most experts recommend that they should be somewhere around 32 psi to 35 psi. You can check the specs on your car in your manual or on the sticker located on the inside of your driver’s side door.

While you’re taking a look at the tire pressure, look at your tread. Cracked or worn-down rubber are signs that you might need to replace your tires. If there is balding on the outside of your tires (the circumference) you could be cornering a bit too hard and therefore are striping the rubber right off the tires.

Things to keep in mind when replacing your tires:

  • For a front-wheel or rear-wheel drive vehicle, you might not need to replace all 4 tires. If one of the rear tires or front tires looks to be in bad condition, you may only need to replace the set of 2. But if you’ve put a lot of miles on all of the tires, you’ll need to replace all of them.
  • For AWD and 4WD vehicles, you must replace all 4 tires since they mostly wear down at the same consistency. Replacing just 1-3 means the other wheel(s) that haven’t been replaced will make the vehicle’s driving feel different and could lead to an accident. The tread must stay the same across all tires.

Remember to Rotate Your Tires

Another important aspect of tire maintenance is rotating them regularly. Your car might unevenly wear down your tires over time – especially when the roads are snowy or wet. The tires situated on the rear axle will wear differently than the ones on the front axle. Switching their positions about every 6,000 to 8,000 miles will help increase the longevity of your tires.

Change Out Your Engine & Cabin Air Filters

A car’s engine air filter is tasked with feeding clean air into the combustion chamber. It prevents dirt, leaves, and debris from entering your engine. Over time, it will get dirty and won’t be able to do its job as effectively. Mechanics recommend changing it every 12,000 to 30,000 miles. Luckily, changing out your air filter is a fairly easy, quick task you can complete on your own.

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First, figure out what type of filter your car needs. Now locate where your air filter is under the hood (while the ignition is turned off). It will usually sit on top of your engine or off to the side. You can find out where yours is with your manual if you can’t immediately locate it, or just look up a how-to guide on YouTube. Unlatch or unscrew the housing unit and remove the old filter. Clean the housing unit with a damp rag. Now simply slip in the new one and reattach the lid and you’re good to go!

Newer vehicles will typically have a cabin air filter, which is different from the engine air filter. The cabin air filter is used for the airflow of the car’s interior. These can get filled with dust, pollen, and pet hair on the regular. You’ll need to use your vehicle’s manual or look up on YouTube how to find and replace this component. It’s a very easy replacement and shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes.

Replace Your Brake Pads

Brake pads will wear down over time too. It goes without saying that it is absolutely essential to have brake pads that are up to the task of stopping your car properly. You should get your brake pads replaced around every 25,000 miles or sooner if they seem to be wearing down. If you hear a grinding noise when you stop, it might be time to get your pads replaced.

Prep Your Car For Cold Weather

Cold weather can be especially difficult on your car for a number of reasons. We already discussed how snow can unevenly wear down your tires, but cold weather can also change your tire pressure, reduce your car battery’s ability to charge, and more. One way you can prep for cold weather is to be sure your car’s heating and defrosting units are functioning properly. You can also invest in snow tires or snow chains.

Wash Car Exterior Often

We all love the look of a shimmering, freshly cleaned exterior, but looking nice isn’t the only benefit of keeping up with regularly cleaning your car’s exterior components. If you leave your car to collect dirt and grime for too long it can actually damage your topcoat and paint over time. We recommend cleaning your vehicle’s exterior at least once a month if not more often. We also suggest waxing it every three months or applying a ceramic coating every two to five years.

Invest in a Car Detailing Package

The interior of your car can collect a lot of clutter and grime. Not only is this just plain messy, but it can also reduce your car’s value. Maintaining a tidy car will score you a higher resale rate when it comes time to trade up and it could also reduce your daily stress. Try to get into the habit of cleaning out the interior of your car regularly. We recommend cleaning it out at least once a month.

You can only accomplish so much on your own when it comes to cleaning your interior. Get your car professionally detailed every 4 to 6 months to maintain optimal value. Your technician will go deep into the cracks and crevices of your vehicle to provide a deeper clean than most of us can achieve on our own without the proper tools. They can also steam clean, provide conditional leather detailing, polish up your exterior, and so much more.

A detailing package doesn’t have to be solely for the interior of your vehicle, though we know this is where you probably spend the majority of your cleaning time. Check out the range of detailing packages available at Sticklers 4 Details here!

If you’re ready to bring your car in for a detailing service, get in touch with Sticklers 4 Details today! We service Fort Collins and the Greater Northern Colorado area!