Doing Preventive Maintenance on Your Car

Understandably. the average car owners tend to be pretty reactionary when it comes to maintenance. That is, they typically spring into action (e.g. visit an auto repair shop) only after a car problem has already arisen.

In reality, best-practice car ownership entails performing “preventive maintenance” on your vehicle, meaning that you should be springing into action before there’s a chance for a problem to take root. Preventive maintenance is important for a number of reasons. First, it promotes vehicle longevity. Additionally, quality upkeep can save you big bucks that might otherwise be spent on costly part repairs down the road. 

Preventive maintenance, by definition, is done routinely and consistently. That means you have to be proactive about doing the things that promote vehicle health and prevent future harm. 

Are you employing proper preventive maintenance techniques? Consult the list below for what the things you should be incorporating into your vehicle upkeep routine: 

1) Listen to your owner’s manual 

If ever you needed a blueprint for how to properly maintain your car, look no further than your glove compartment. Your owner’s manual outlines the maintenance schedule you need to follow, including the mileage at which you need to perform certain actions (e.g. oil change). Being faithful to your owner’s manual is the first step in promoting vehicle longevity. 

2) Get your oil changed 

Oil change is often pointed to as the most important vehicle maintenance schedule item, and for good reason: oil is the lifeblood of your car. It lubricates the engine, which is comprised of many complex mechanisms working together to power your drive. Additionally, oil prevents your engine from overheating and removes harmful particles from corroding your engine. So how often should you be changing your oil? The “every 3,000 miles” rule is largely a myth. Some cars can withstand a good 6,000 miles under their wheels before requiring an oil change. Consult—and then obey—your owner’s manual. 

3) Pump up your tires 

A 2017 survey conducted by AAA found that over 60 percent of Americans put off checking their tire pressure on a regular basis. You should be checking your tire pressure consistently, at least once every two months (and once a month during winter). When tire tread wears to about 4/32” it’s probably time to get new tires. Of course, if your owner's manual suggests a different schedule, go with that instead. A mechanic should be able to help you read a tire pressure measurement if you haven’t done it before. 

4) Rotate and align your tires

Even wear on your tires is important for balance and smoothness of driving. Rotating your tires helps achieve even wear. How often should you be rotating your tires? Consult your manual or seek advice from a mechanic with extensive knowledge and experience on your make and model. 

Wheel alignment is just as important. Poor alignment can compromise your steering ability and put yourself and other drivers on the road at risk. While the rule of thumb for wheel balancing is every 3,000 to 6,000 miles, check your owner’s manual for a more precise alignment gauge. 

5) Change your spark plugs 

The spark plug is one of the most vital components in your car. Its function is to produce an electric spark at the requisite time to ignite the engine’s air/fuel mixture. The result of this ignition is a controlled explosion in the engine’s combustion chamber. And it’s this explosion that produces the power necessary to make your vehicle go. 

Like every other mechanism on this list, your spark plugs wear and when they do, your vehicle loses efficiency. You can check on the health of your spark plugs yourself, or have a mechanic do it for you. Consult your owner’s manual to see how often you should be checking on your spark plugs. 

6) Save your receipts, save time, save money. Let us help! 

We know going through a drawer full of receipts can be just as annoying as driving in the city during rush hour and leave more clutter than a college dorm room.  Toco is here to help! We recommend taking a picture of your receipts and keeping in a folder on your Google Drive, iCloud, or other cloud storage account. Toco is happy to archive them for you if you want to fax or email them to us! Having these already in our database, can save you time during a claim and prevent any potential issues. Keeping receipts does not have to fill up your glovebox anymore; just send them to Toco!

Health is Wealth

Vehicles are a lot like us, no matter how well we eat and exercise, sometimes we all get sick and the same goes for our cars: no matter how much preventative maintenance we do sometimes our cars get “sick”. Just like your doctor is there when you get sick, having a Toco Vehicle Service Contract is the best way to be prepared for any major issues when your car gets “sick”. Performing preventative maintenance, like going to the doctor for a check-up, is crucial to ensuring its overall health and longevity of your vehicle, keeping money where it belongs, in your pocket. 

Get help paying for preventive maintenance 

Performing preventive maintenance on your vehicle is crucial to ensuring its overall health and longevity. While the frequency at which you may need to tend to your vehicle may seem daunting, know that not all maintenance costs need to come directly from your pocket.