The recession has many Iowans trying to stretch their dollars, but one thing they shouldn’t skimp on is vehicle maintenance. Rose White, of Triple-A Iowa, says ignoring your car’s necessities will likely cost you considerably more money in the long run.
"As consumers look for ways to cut their budget, some may consider forgoing or even delaying vehicle maintenance," White says. "However, keeping a vehicle properly maintained is the best way to avoid major repairs down the road that are far more costly than the maintenance. Proper maintenance is also critical to the safe operation of your vehicle." White says one important thing to do to keep your car in good shape is to routinely check and change your oil.
"Oil is the life blood of your engine," she says. "Not maintaining the proper levels or using the wrong oil or not changing it frequently enough can destroy your engine. Plus, oil that leaks on a heated surface can cause a fire. It’s also important to remember that many of the items and fluids that you check in your vehicle, it’s also recommended that you check those items when you change your oil."
White suggests several other things to make sure your car keeps running efficiently. "Tire pressure will make tires last longer and delay the need for you to buy new ones," White says. "Plus, having the proper tire pressure will help vehicle’s fuel economy. Engine air filters are also important. Dirty air filters not only affect your fuel economy but other vehicle systems such as emissions control system and spark plugs.
It’s also important you check the battery cables, clamps and terminals. No one enjoys walking into a parking lot and discovering their car won’t start and often that is the problem." White says you don’t have to be a mechanic to look under the hood and check out some of your engine’s vital parts.
"Antifreeze coolant is also extremely important especially as we approach the summer months for it’s important to maintain it to avoid overheating," White says. For safety reasons, make sure your wiper blades are in good condition and you have plenty of washer fluid. Also, she says, "Your car’s belts — replace every 4 years or 60,000 miles and the final list on our top ten list is checking the break fluid."
Behind our houses, White says our vehicles are the largest purchase consumers make, so it’s important to keep them in good running order. If you do, you could avoid expensive repairs and increase your trade-in value.