Crash Course on Car Maintenance

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School is ending. The summer is coming. And many new graduates will be walking across that stage to accept their diplomas. This time of year means graduation parties, a new sense of freedom, and quite a lot of presents. If a new (or used) car is on the gift list for your graduate, prepare them for the next chapter of life with a smooth-running vehicle.

Proper maintenance is key to keeping your car in shape for years to come. With the right knowledge, that starter car will carry your grad through hot summer road trips, four years of college, and into their first career job.

Here’s a crash course on car maintenance that any new graduate should read!

Lesson 1: Know Your Vehicle
It may sound boring, but reading your vehicle’s manual will save you time and money. Learn details like what gasoline octane to use, recommended tire pressure, oil weight, warning lights to look out for, and everything else you might need to know. It may not be a bestseller, but it’s a book you just have to read.

Lesson 2: Tire Maintenance
One of the most important steps in basic car maintenance is to check the wheels you’re riding on. Keeping your tires in shape is critical to a safe ride. According to the NHTSA via Tire Wise, around 200 people die per year because of bad tires. Besides keeping you safe, properly inflated tires also save you money at the gas pump. Here’s what to check:

  • Pressure: Once a month, check the air pressure when tires are cold. Fill to the amount listed in your manual or inside the doorframe.
  • Tread: Monthly, check using tread-indicators or a penny! (Place Lincoln’s head between the tread – if you can see his hairline, get new tires.)
  • Balance/Alignment/Rotation: Use the rotation schedule recommended by the manufacturer – schedule with a professional.

Lesson 3: Check Your Oil
Consistent oil changes will protect and extend the life of your engine. Check your oil at regular intervals, especially if you have an older vehicle. Refill if necessary and keep track of the miles you’ve driven. Schedule an oil change every 3,000 miles (or as recommended in your owner’s manual). Some new cars only require an oil change every 7,000 miles. Just make sure you stay consistent!

Lesson 4: Check Coolant
Hey, we’re in Texas…which means HOT summers and even hotter car engines. Keep an eye on your coolant temperature level and fluid levels. Take care of any leakage ASAP! If you ever smell something like syrup, it could be your coolant (unless a Waffle House is nearby). Pull over to a safe location and contact a mechanic. Fixing problems before they get worse will prevent expensive damage in the future.

Lesson 5: Keep Your Brakes in Great Shape
There’s nothing scarier than a car without brakes! Keep yours in shape by keeping your ears open. Modern disc brakes will warn you of wear with that familiar “squealing” sound. If your car is starting to sound louder than your favorite radio station, schedule a brake inspection.

Lesson 6: Look for Warranty/Manufacturer Notices
From warranty work to recalls, if you get a notice in the mail, schedule that repair ASAP! You don’t want to be driving around a car that has been recalled for poor safety quality or faulty parts. If you were lucky enough to get a warranty with your car, use it when something goes wrong. Don’t procrastinate on free repair services. Use them while you still can!

If you’re a new graduate with a new car, keep this crash course in basic car maintenance in mind. Using preventative maintenance, you’ll keep your vehicle going for years to come. If you need an oil change or repairs in the Greater Houston Area, trust the Colony One Auto family with your vehicle’s maintenance needs. Call, stop by, or request a service today!