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Car tips & advice | 30.07.2014 - 17:28

5 Car Care and Maintenance Tips Every New Car Owner Should Know

Caring for your car can have a big impact on the longevity of your vehicle. Make sure you are doing it right by reading these tips below...

Buying a new car is an exciting and promising prospect, but it can also be intimidating. Cars are complex and precise machines that require regular care to continue running well. Here are four categories of basic care you should become familiar with to optimize your car’s performance.


1. Tires

Your tires can have a drastic impact on your car’s handling and fuel economy. If you bought a new car, you won’t have to worry about checking the treads on your tires right away, but if your car is used, check your treads right away.


The easiest way to do this is using a penny. The minimum tread depth requirement in the US is 2/32". If your tread is at least 2/32”, part of Lincoln’s head will always be covered when you insert a penny (with Lincoln upside down) into any of your tire grooves. However, this is the bare minimum depth. You should not drive on 2/32” or shallower treads in inclement weather as shallow treads cannot provide enough grip or handling control to navigate wet roads.


Maintain proper tire pressure to keep your MPGs high and your ride smooth. Ideal tire pressure will depend on your vehicle and tires. The optimal range is posted inside your car (usually on the door jam, inside the glove box, or on your gas door) and on the wheel wall. If the range listed in your car is different than the number on the tire itself, stick with the recommendation posted on your tire. Invest in a pressure gauge (which can be found at any auto parts store) and test your pressure weekly for best results.


2. Fluids

When you get your new car, familiarize yourself with the engine. Your engine oil, wiper fluid, power steering fluid, anti-freeze, and brake fluid will all be labelled. Most of these internal fluids are checked with a dipstick (with marks indicating the lowest useable level and maximum level) or a floating indicator. How often your fluids need to be refilled or replaced will depend on your driving habits and the age of your car.


It’s recommended that you check your oil levels at least once a month. Low oil can cause your engine to overheat or decrease engine performance. Check your owner’s manual to see how often your car’s manufacturer recommends oil changes. Most models should have an oil change every 3,000 to 10,000 miles.


3. Tune-Ups

Though most of your car’s general maintenance can be performed at home, it’s important to schedule regular tune-ups so that any damage can be taken care of. Early detection will help you avoid costly repairs and extreme safety hazards. According to Speedy Apollo Auto Service Centres, which handles tune-ups in Calgary, a general tune-up includes checks of your car’s

  • air and fuel filters.
  • spark plugs.
  • Wiring.
  • light bulbs.
  • engine belts.
  • Fluids.
  • PCV valves.

Be sure to address any safety or efficiency issues you’ve noticed between tune-ups with your mechanic.


4. Safety Testing

Safety testing requirements vary by state. Your state may require any of the following tests:

  • Emissions: An emissions test checks that your car is not producing more pollution than is legally allowed. During an emissions test, your car’s levels of unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO) are measured. This may also include visual tests of your fuel system.
  • Smog: Smog tests are a version of emissions testing specific to California. In a basic Smog test, a machine collects the emissions from your car’s tailpipe at idling and 2500 RPM. When a more advanced test is required, your car’s emission levels will be tested while driving on a Dynamometer.
  • Safety Inspection: Requirements vary by state, but a typical safety inspection involves a visual check of your car’s lights, windows, engine, and exhaust system for safety hazards.

Usually these tests are performed once every one to five years. While you are registering and insuring your car, talk to a DMV official or your insurer to find out about your state’s specific requirements, or look up your state’s testing requirements.


By staying on top of routine maintenance tasks, you can extend the life of your new car and keep it running efficiently and reliably.

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Driver: Meghan
Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. Meghan also enjoys researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure.
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