There’s nothing quite like that new car feeling. If you’re going into the new year with a new ride, you can take steps to make sure it runs and looks great for years to come. By maintaining the interior, exterior, and engine, you’ll not only keep it looking new, but also ensure that it’s safer on the road, costs you less in repairs, performs optimally, and holds its resale value.
Here are 30 quick tips to keep your car ageless.
Protect the Interior
1. Use windshield screens to protect your interior from UV rays and to keep internal temperatures down (direct light and high temps dry out and fade interiors fast!).
2. Regularly run your A/C to keep it in top working condition – 10 mins every week should do the trick. Same for the defroster.
3. Have a trash receptacle in the car, which can help prevent stains, spills, and loose trash.
4. Clean the interior – seats, dash, carpets, door panels – at least once a month.
5. Vacuum weekly, using a handheld vac with an attachment.
6. Although sometimes difficult at the beginning, but makes a huge difference over time: try implementing a rule of banning greasy, oily, creamy, or crumbly foods from the car.
7. Replace any floormats that are wearing through – as soon as holes form, your carpet underneath is at risk of damage.
8. Remove stains immediately – don’t wait! The sooner you get to them, the easier they come out.
9. Get your A/C serviced after several years – when not checked, it can cause a moldy smell that settles into your car’s upholstery for good.
10. Apply protective conditioners to leather and vinyl seats and the dash to keep them protected from sun exposure. Think of them as sunscreen for your car.
Don’t Forget the Exterior
11. Wash your car weekly to rid it of dust, mud, and dirt. Go to your local car wash or, if washing at home, only use cleaners formulated for cars.
12. Wax at least twice a year – not only does this keep your ride shiny but it helps protect your paint from UV rays.
13. Repair windshield chips immediately. Waiting can give them time to spread, causing unsafe conditions and requiring a more expensive windshield repair.
14. Only use microfiber towels on your car’s interior and exterior. Other fibers, as well as paper towels, may scratch or damage surfaces.
15. Garage (or cover) your car if possible. This keeps it safe from UV rays, the errant baseball, bird droppings (which can etch paint), car thieves, and a host of other risks.
16. If you can, get professional detailing done annually. The pros do an amazing job and, over time, regular detailing boosts your vehicle’s resale value.
17. Check tire pressure monthly and adjust as needed according to the PSI listed in your owner’s manual. Under- and over-inflated tires increase your chances of a roadside emergency. While you’re checking pressure, inspect tires for bulges, cracks, and other damage.
18. Get tires rotated and have the alignment checked on schedule.
19. Clear leaves and other debris from the windshield exterior grill so as to not clog up the A/C system.
20. Touch up paint chips to discourage rusting.
21. Use a clay bar to get rid of road debris that doesn’t come off with washings.
22. Only use window cleaners that are safe for car windows – only vinegar mixes or special car formulas, nothing ammonia-based. And use microfiber towels rather than paper ones.
Maintain the Engine
23. Stick to your service schedule – trusted mechanics know what to do at the right time.
24. Keep revs under 3,000 – this will keep your piston rings happy and healthy.
25. If your check engine light comes on, get it checked! Most of the time, it’s something insignificant, but other times could signal a major problem.
26. Check oil regularly, even if you get it serviced professionally. Oil is your car’s lifeblood – best to err on the side of checking too often.
27. Drive your vehicle regularly – it keeps the battery charged and the fluids circulating. Start it at least once or twice a week and leave the engine running for 20 to 30 minutes to power the battery.
Don’t Forget To:
28. Get to know your owner’s manual. Know what the indicator lights mean, look at the maintenance schedules, know what kind of oil is recommended, and memorize your tire PSI.
29. Get fixes done sooner rather than later. Procrastinating on car repairs or service can multiply problems later on.
30. Make a habit of doing a visual check of your car each time you approach to get in. Whether it’s a low tire, a ding, or a back-up hazard, knowing what’s going on with your car at all times gives you the info needed to plan and act.
The more TLC you give your car, the more rewards you’ll reap in terms of safety, cost savings over time, and a steady resale value. Plus, there’s that “proud parent” feeling of having a car that both runs and looks great for years on end!
Now that you know everything to do to keep your car in tip-top condition, check out what you definitely shouldn’t do. Here are the10 Worst Things You Can Do To Your Car.
This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.