You've probably heard this advice 100 times: change the oil in your car every 3,000 to 5,000 miles to keep it running smoothly. The way this advice is given out, you would think it was the only type of maintenance you needed to do to your car. But that's not the case! There are actually six other maintenance tasks that you should either do or have your mechanic do on a regular basis.
1. Change Your Engine Air Filter
The air filter traps dust and dirt in the air to prevent it from making its way into your car engine. If the filter gets dirty, your fuel efficiency will decrease, and your car may even start struggling up hills and when it has to pull a little more power. Most people need to change their engine air filter approximately every 15,000 miles. If you do it once a year, that's also a safe bet. You can buy a new filter at any auto parts store; just look up your car's make and model in the store's catalog to see which size filter you need. Usually, you just unhook the filter from on top of the engine air intake and then slip the new filter into place, securing it with metal clips.
2. Clean the Battery Posts
The battery posts can accumulate corrosion and other materials as the battery operates. If they get too dirty, you may struggle to start the car, or the battery may not charge properly as you are driving. To clean these posts, first disconnect both of the battery terminals from the battery. Once the battery is disconnected, use a paste made from baking soda and water to scrub both of the posts. Let it sit for a few minutes, and then wipe away any residue with a clean, damp cloth. Let the battery dry, and then reconnect the terminals.
3. Change the Coolant
The coolant or antifreeze in your engine can get dirty over time and needs to be changed about every 2 years. Locate your engine's coolant drain and open it to drain the old coolant into a bucket. Then, with the bucket still in place, dump about a cup of coolant-flushing solution (sold at most auto stores) into the coolant compartment. Let this drip through the system for a few minutes. Then, put the coolant drain cap back in place, and add new coolant to the system. Do not fill the compartment past the fill line.
4. Change the Brake Pads
Your brake pads slowly wear down each time you apply the brakes. Every 20,000 miles or so, you will need to have them replaced. This is a good job to leave to your mechanic, since your car really needs to be put on a jack to change the pads. If you drive around on old pads for too long, you will damage the rotors—another component of the brakes—and they are more expensive to replace.
5. Replace the Spark Plugs
This is another task to leave to the mechanic. If the spark plugs start to go, your car may start stuttering or running roughly. Certain issues with spark plugs can cause it not to start entirely. Your mechanic can replace all of the plugs approximately every 30,000 miles to keep your car running smoothly.
6. Replace the Windshield Wipers
This one is easy! Whenever your wipers look worn and frayed—or once a year—remove the old wipers and replace them with new ones. All you have to do is unhook the wiper at its base and snap the new one onto the wiper holder.
Contact a AAA-certified auto repair company for more information.