If you have just purchased your first car, chances are you want to protect the investment. Although there are some variances in vehicle needs across models (which you can find in your owner's manual), most cars all need the same basic regular maintenance to function well so that they can stay on the road for a long time.
1. Oil Changes
Regular oil changes are arguably one of the most important car care tasks. Oil is what lubricates all the moving parts in your engine. Low oil or dirty oil will cause the works to gum up, and then the friction can lead to irreparable damage to the engine or related components. The frequency for oil and oil filter changes varies across vehicle models, but it's generally recommended every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.
2. Filter Replacement
There are various filters used in the average car. Oil filters are usually replaced at the time of an oil change. There are also air filters that keep debris out of your car's engine intake and cabin filters that help keep the air pulled into your car's environmental system clean. The frequency for changing these varies with vehicle model and air quality in your area, so ask your mechanic or check the owner's manual for a good replacement schedule.
3. Tire Care
The last thing you want is a flat tire. Even new tires on a new vehicle can suffer damage, so you might get in the habit of walking around your car before each use and checking the tires for obvious signs of damage. Check tire pressure each time you fill up, or at least once a month, and air up the tires if they are low. Further, follow your mechanic's recommendation for rotating, balancing, and aligning the tires.
4. Fluid Checks
Low fluids can range from inconvenient to damaging. For example, low wiper fluid is typically just an inconvenience, while low transmission or brake fluid can destroy your car or even lead to an accident. Check the easily accessible fluids with dipsticks, like the oil and wiper fluid. In some cars, there may also be dipsticks for other fluids like the transmission, while other models may have closed systems and require fluid checks.
5. Wipers and Lights
Finally, never overlook safety maintenance. For most car owners, this means checking that all lights from the headlights to the brake lights are working properly. You can do a quick visual check daily or at least weekly, as you don't want to drive with a broken light. Wiper blades should be replaced whenever they begin to leave streaks.
Contact an auto service if you would like to learn more about basic car maintenance needs.