As most drivers know, proper vehicle maintenance is key to keeping you and your family safe; it’s also vital for keeping your vehicle running for a long time. But you're a bit younger, and you may have just obtained your driver's license or recently purchased your first car – congrats, by the way! If you’re new to driving or new to taking care of your own vehicle, preventive auto care and maintenance may not be a part of your routine or something you think about at all. After all, where does one even begin with ongoing maintenance on a car? Well, we can help with that!
8 Maintenance Tips for Young Drivers
We've created a checklist with eight of the most critical maintenance tasks every first-time driver needs to know and what can happen if you procrastinate in taking care of these tasks.
Inspect, Use, & Replace Your Wiper Blades
Your car's windshield wipers are essential, especially once the rainy or snowy weather rolls in. If they're not in good condition, your wiper blades will become ineffective, leaving smudges and streaks and even scratching up your windshield in the process.
To ensure you and your car can handle whatever weather you'll end up encountering, you should be inspecting and testing your windshield wipers every month. The last thing you want to be is caught in heavy rain or snow without a set of reliable wipers.
A wiper can generally last anywhere from six months to a year. Still, once the rubber begins to show signs of wear and tear due to general use or even sun exposure, especially if you live in a warmer climate, you should have it replaced as soon as possible. Of course, while there are some simple steps you can take to extend the life span of your car's wipers, there will come a time you need to have your wipers replaced. Most windshield wipers can be replaced without ever having to take your vehicle into a shop. Time to stretch those DIY wings!
Change Your Car's Oil & Filter on Time
This maintenance tip probably isn't some crazy realization, but every engine needs regular oil changes. This is because your car's oil is responsible for so much. From lubricating to cooling, your engine's oil gets used every time you go for a drive, so it's bound to get dirty after some time.
Before you go climbing under your car to drain the engine's oil, be sure to consult your vehicle's owner's manual to find out how often your manufacturer suggests servicing your oil. Most modern cars suggest oil changes between every 3,000 to 5,000 miles driven, but some engines can go for 7,000 miles or more between changes.
Check Your Tire's Air Pressure and Complete Proper Rotation & Alignment
Your tires are the only thing keeping you, your passengers, and your car connected to the road, so there's no wonder why inefficiently maintained tires can lead to unreliable and unsafe handling, turning, acceleration, and braking.
If you ignore tire maintenance, you can be putting yourself and everyone else on the road at risk. Worn-out tires risk blowing out, not handling as they usually would, and even present more danger in extreme weather conditions. Even older tires that appear to have plenty of tread can become hardened and lose their softness and ability to grip the road, making you and others very unsafe.
Aside from checking your tire's air pressure regularly, it's vital to ensure you're completing the proper tire maintenance. When it comes to completing tire maintenance on your vehicle, it's a good idea to have your tires rotated every time you change your oil. Additionally, it's important to have a tire alignment checked every year by a local auto mechanic to ensure your car's steering is straight and your tires are evenly flat on the road. These services are excellent at ensuring your car has maximum traction and functionality while you're out. Why do we stress this? It’s because a tire rotation and alignment might cost you around $150, while new tires could easily cost you $1,000. So, take care of those expensive tires with proper maintenance!
Double Check Your Battery's Power
Nobody likes a dead battery, particularly when they leave you stranded. Dead batteries can come out of virtually anywhere, as they're infamously known for sneaking up on drivers with little to no warning.
While many batteries have been designed to last as long as five or six years and have warranties that cover them for that amount of time, it's not uncommon for batteries to only last around two or three years before needing replacement. During your oil change, be sure to check your battery's voltage. Christian Brothers Automotive will check it for free - just ask! If you notice any sudden drops in power or other signs of battery damage, it may be time to replace your car's battery.
Replace Thinned & Worn Out Brake Pads
Your brakes are responsible for slowing down your vehicle and safely bringing it to a stop. Most vehicles use disc brakes, where ceramic pads press against a metal disc in order to stop your car. Over time, the ceramic pads will wear down, so they'll eventually need to be replaced. It’s completely normal for every car on the road to have this service completed. It's important to change them before they become too thin. If they get too thin, you’ll have metal scraping against your brake rotors, and if your rotors are ruined, you’ll definitely be in for a potentially pricey brake service.
Your air filter is crucial to your engine's health and overall efficiency. Because your engine requires a combination of fuel and air in order to run properly, it’s important to ensure that only clean air gets into your engine. Your air filter works to remove debris from the air, successfully keeping it from being pumped into your engine. As you rack up miles on your car, your air filter will become dirty with debris and will eventually need to be replaced. While we’re here, there’s another filter in your car called a Cabin Air Filter. It functions exactly the same way as the filter in the AC system in your house.
We recommend changing both of these filters every 15,000 to 20,000 miles, but you may have to do so more frequently if you drive through areas with large amounts of dust or poor air quality. It would be best if you had your air filter checked every time you change your oil at a minimum.
Inspect and Replace Belts & Hoses
If you’re like most people, your first car isn’t a brand new vehicle with that intoxicating new car smell. It’s likely your first car was owned by a family member, friend, or a complete stranger before you got behind the wheel. And, there are probably several thousand miles on the odometer. This detail is important, because, depending on the maintenance completed by the previous owner, you'll want to keep an eye on the various hoses and belts in your vehicle.
Air hoses and timing and serpentine belts generally last up to 60,000 miles or more but can and will usually become a concern after that. Be on the lookout for general wear and tear, fraying, cracking, or dryness because a broken belt can easily destroy your engine. Additionally, even the tiniest leak in one of your hoses can fully leave you without a proper working vehicle. Having a technician take a quick glance at every oil change service interval will give you either peace of mind that your hoses and belts are in working order or a safe heads up that service or replacement is needed soon. Inconvenient services are way better than an unplanned vehicle crisis.
Replace Spark Plugs as Needed
Spark plugs are small but very important parts of your engine, and, unfortunately, just like many other components of your car, they tend to wear out after some time.
In general, spark plugs should always be replaced sometime between 60,000 and 75,000 miles; your vehicle’s maintenance guide will give you the specific number. Even if just one spark plug is having issues, there will be a large decrease in overall performance of your vehicle. Having the spark plugs inspected on a routine basis ensures you can replace any that are drying out, damaged, or completely burnt out. This contributes to your car's overall performance and protects your engine's lifespan.
Experiencing Automotive Trouble? Check out Our Local Auto Shop!
Christian Brothers Automotive is your partner in keeping your car running smoothly. We offer a full range of maintenance services designed to help your car run at its absolute best, including oil changes, filter checks, tire rotation, brake services, and everything between. We will provide you with the complete car care and friendly customer service you won’t find anywhere else.
That quick glance we mentioned earlier? It’s free! We call it our Courtesy Inspection, and it’s a fantastic overall health checkup on your vehicle, giving you what you need to know to maintain a long lasting car.
"I needed to have an annual state inspection performed in my CRV and Christian Brothers performed the service quickly and efficiently with friendly, courteous attendance. I would highly recommend this ..."
"They were very kind and they were very fast to fix my problem"
"They were very kind and they were very fast to fix my problem and it was a fair price to have it fix I would use them for any problem that I have with my truck or any vehicle that I have."
"Good folks to deal with"
"I have used Christian Brothers multiple times, always with the same good results. They are fair & honest and always friendly. I recommended them to my girlfriend who also had a good experience there."