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Smart Tips for General Car Maintenance

General maintenance .

We've all seen older cars that still run like new and remain in excellent condition inside and out. What's the secret to such automotive longevity? It's nothing more complicated than diligent general car maintenance.

By practicing careful preventative maintenance, you can protect your investment for as long as you own it. Given that the average new car now sells for more than $34,000, that's no small thing.

With that in mind, let's take a moment to review some smart tips for keeping your car in top shape.

Use the proper motor oil, and change it regularly

Failing to change your oil on a regular basis might cause serious damage to your engine. It's also important to ensure that you're using the appropriate type of oil. Most newer vehicles need synthetic-blend or full-synthetic oil. Your oil must also match up with your vehicle's SAE viscosity grade — information you can find in your owner's manual.

Although an oil change every 3,000 miles used to be the standard, modern engines can go 5,000 to 7,500 miles between oil changes. Some engines running on full-synthetic oil may be able to go as many as 25,000 miles or up to a year between changes.

Care for your tires

Good tire care is essential to the long-term maintenance of your vehicle. This means you should regularly check the air pressure in your tires, have your tires rotated and balanced, and have your alignment checked.

Replacing tires can be costly, but a bit of tender loving care can extend their useful life span and help keep your car on the road longer.

Check and replace all fluids

Antifreeze, coolant, power steering and transmission fluids all play a critical role in the operation of a vehicle. Because of this, it's imperative that you ensure all fluid levels stay at their prescribed levels. You should also make sure all the fluids are changed regularly.

Be sure to check your owner's manual to see how often your fluids need to be changed. If you're having trouble locating your vehicle’s fluid tanks, ask to have them checked when you schedule your next oil change.

Replace your air filter

An engine air filter prevents fine dirt, dust particles and other matter from getting into your car's cylinders. This helps avoid oil contamination as well as wear and tear on your engine.

For most vehicles, it’s best to change out the air filter every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. One of the best ways to know if you need a new filter is by simply looking at it. If your filter is dark and dirty, you need to replace it immediately.

Make sure your belts are in good shape

A worn-out timing or serpentine belt can cause major problems for your vehicle. At the very least, a belt failure will result in a breakdown. At worst, it can cause damage to other vehicle components.

Conventional wisdom says these belts should last somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. That's a sizeable gap, so it's important to have your belts checked once you're close to the beginning of that range.

Maintain proper insurance coverage

Making sure that your vehicle is appropriately insured is imperative for any responsible car owner. If you have any questions regarding the type or amount of coverage that's right for you, contact your local agent.

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