General maintenance is an important part of being a vehicle owner. Not only does it keep your property looking nice and pristine, but regular repairs and cleanings can increase the life of your vehicle.
Sometimes, vehicle owners try to avoid regular maintenance because they feel it is expensive. However, ignoring small issues with your vehicle is a recipe for disaster. Over time, the lack of care can result in larger repairs that cost thousands of dollars.
If you are looking to sell your vehicle or use it to trade-in for a new option, these tips are especially important for you. Keeping the appearance and functionality of your vehicle in top shape can help negate the natural depreciation of a vehicle.
Don’t worry about bouncing around from website to website to learn the best car owner tips for all your different vehicles. We have curated a guide to cover all the basic tips and tricks you will need.
General Vehicle Maintenance Tips
Before diving into specific vehicles, let’s knock out some car owner tips that apply to practically every vehicle.
1. Utilize Your Instruction Manual
Whether you are driving to and from work every day in a 2-door coupe or using a recreational vehicle to see the country, you should always start by becoming comfortable with the vehicle’s user manual. This little guide can be your best friend when it comes to recognizing vehicle issues and making small repairs.
A great first step in learning the user manual is to check out the dash light definitions and learn what any detrimental warning lights look like. You should always know which lights mean, “do some maintenance,” and which ones mean, “get off the highway before you ruin your vehicle.”
2. Maintain the Oil and Filter
One of the best car owner tips we can give you is to change your oil and your filters regularly. This can be done cheaply at home with a little elbow grease, or at a shop for about twice the cost. No matter where you get the oil change done, be certain that the filter is being changed and not just rinsed and replaced. While a cleaned oil filter can technically be reused, this should only be done if run through an analysis system that checks for the quality of the washed filter. Typically, this analysis is not being done which results in useless filters being put back into the vehicle.
3. Do a Monthly Tire Check
Flat tires and blowouts are extremely dangerous. In the United States, over 78,000 accidents a year are caused by these issues and result in over 10,000 hospitalizations and nearly 500 deaths.
The worst thing is that many of these accidents could be avoided by performing regular tire checks. Take a look at your tires and search for damage. Also, assess the air level of the tires to ensure they are not under or overfilled. Here are all the signs that a tired may be damaged:
- Cracking in the Sidewall: This is a sign that the rubber of the tire is weakened, which can result in a tire blowing while in use.
- Uneven Tread Damage: Treads that are worn unevenly indicate tires that are damaged, misaligned, or improperly inflated.
- Extremely Worn Treads: You tire treads are necessary for maintaining traction on roads. Some vehicles use tread indicator bars to show an owner when the tires need to be replaced. Other owners use the old-school method of sticking a penny into the tread. If you can see Honest Abe’s head, the tread is too short.
- Wobbling or Vibration: A tired check should include a short drive to evaluate the vibration level of the tires. If the vehicle is wobbling, shaking, or overly-vibrating, it is a sign that the tires are misaligned or unbalanced. This is the type of issue that requires immediate servicing from a trusted mechanic.
4. Do Pre-Travel Fluid and Belt checks
Checking the belts and fluids on daily use vehicles is one of the best car owner tips, but don’t forget to perform these checks on other vehicles as well. If you are taking your motorcycle out of the garage for the first time after winter, don’t just hop on and hit the pavement before checking the oil and the drive belt. This can prevent damage to the vehicle as well as damage to the rider.
5. ABC – Always Be Cleaning
Sure, some of the best and most reliable vehicles are old, dirty, rust buckets that get you from point A to point B. Still, if you have a vehicle you want to use regularly and maintain its value as best you can, keep it cleaned and detailed on a regular basis.
This doesn’t need to be expensive. Self service car-washes are a cost-effective way to clean your vehicle and detailing can be done with the cleaning gear you have at home, some lubricant spray, and a little elbow grease. Don’t forget to clean in tight corners, on top of window panes, and down around the seat-belt clasps (especially if you have children or pets).
Care Guide for Cars and Trucks
Typically, cars and trucks are most people’s first picks for primary vehicles. There are options from a wide range of prices that can cater to the aesthetic and functionality needs of any individual. No matter how often you drive your car or truck, there are certain care tips that you should keep in mind.
Car Care Tips
In addition to our general vehicle maintenance ideas, here are a few other car owner tips to keep your ride in great shape.
- Keep Your Windshield Clean: dead bugs, tree sap, and other muck that ends up on your windshield is more than just an eyesore. This debris can create a hazard by blocking your view of the roadway. Additionally, build-up of scum in the windshield can create a film that produces harsh sun-glares and prolonged damage to the integrity of the glass.
- Be Wary of Grinding Brakes: It is easy to think squeaky and grinding brakes aren’t a big deal in a small car, but that little care is still a deadly piece of machinery. If your brakes fail you can be seriously injured or even injure others. Always replace brake pads as soon as they begin to get worn to avoid having to replace the entire rotor.
- Utilize a Dash Camera for Care Maintenance: Accidents happen, but you shouldn’t be on the hook for damage caused by the careless driver in the next parking spot over. Keeping dash cameras installed in a vehicle helps prove culpability when your vehicle is damaged and can save you thousands of dollars in repairs.
- Avoid Direct Heat: When it gets hot out, consider parking in the shade, under an awning, in the garage, or anywhere you can avoid direct sunlight on the hood of your car. This helps protect the battery which can be weakened by extreme heat.
Truck Care Tips
Truck care is similar to maintenance for your car, but here are a few additional tips to consider as well:
- Drive Less Aggressively: While trucks can make us feel tough and powerful, they also come with very particularly balanced weight distributions and sensors that can be severely altered or damaged if the vehicle is constantly being jarred.
- Keep your Tailgate Maintained: Proper lubrication and maintenance of the tailgate are vital to its longevity. An improperly treated tailgate can have difficulty remaining latched, which can lead to a disastrous spill of your belongings along the roadway.
- Check for Rust on the Roof: Paint chips can lead to the rusting of the underlying metal on your truck. However, sometimes we can overlook these chips on the roof of larger vehicles where we can’t typically see. What’s worse, is this is where you are most likely to see damage to the paint due to small debris from trees hitting the area.
- Consider Truck Bed Protection: using truck accessories like a spray liner, bed cover, or covered parking for your truck is great way to maintain the integrity of your truck bed. These tricks can reduce damage caused by leaf litter, moisture, and other natural debris that may accumulate in the bed.
Care Guide for RVs Other Recreational Vehicles
One of our top car owner tips is to utilize all your maintenance skills for recreational vehicles as well. However, there are a few additional care tips you might want to remember:
- Maintain the waste system in Your RV.
- Keep Motorcycles, Scooters, and ATVs tarped and protected when not in use.
- Follow special care guides for water vehicles.
- Frequently treat the gas on all terrain vehicles.
You’ll also want to store these vehicles safely when they’re not in use. Ensure that your garage’s roof is in good condition, especially during the winter where moisture can get in and damage your vehicle. Contact a roofing company for your garage or be sure to cover your vehicles with a tarp during the off-season.
Money-Saving Tips For Purchasing a New Vehicle
If you are in the market for a new (or new to you) vehicle, we have some money-saving car owner tips that can greatly improve your buying experience.
First, consider the state of your credit and finances. How much money do you have to put toward a vehicle? If you need to finance the majority of the vehicle price, will your credit score impress lenders?
Bad Credit Loans
When you are in dire need of a vehicle but your credit is shot, a bad credit loan can be a great option. However, there are a few things to keep in mind with this option.
- Fast Cash
- Nearly Guaranteed Approval
- Elongated Pay-Back Periods
- Option for Rebuilding Credit
- High Interest Rates
- Lots of Fees
- Auto Withdrawal Required
- Must Provide Collateral
Buy Something That Needs Work
If you are a little more mechanically savvy, you may be interested in looking for repairable vehicles for sale. Depending on the level of damage, you can often flip these cars for profit or create a desirable personal vehicle for far less than buying off a lot.
One of our car owner tips is to remember that buying a fixer-upper can be a lot of fun, but a total-loss vehicle can often be difficult to ensure and might end up having more problems than you realize.
Consider a Trade-In
One way to boost your vehicle buying options is by providing a trade-in to the lot to offset the purchase cost. Often, lots will take a trade-in of any make or model so long as it has resale value.
Be aware that lots will try to low ball you because it provides them more cushion for a return on investment. If you feel a lot is offering you unfair prices, try shopping around or consider selling the vehicle privately and using the cash as a down payment.
Keep Your Vehicles Safe
Properly maintaining your vehicle is great, but another of our important car owner tips is to protect your vehicle from damage and accidents. There are a lot of ways to boost the safety of your vehicle, but here are a few options that are easy and effective.
1. Keep your Vehicle Secure
Find a safe place to store your vehicle and ensure it is properly secured. For instance, if you keep your motorcycle in a privacy-fenced yard, you will also want to make sure there are locks on the gates that prevent the bike from being easily carried from the yard. Additionally, if you store your cars in the garage, make sure the panel doors are secure and don’t lift under pressure.
If your garage doors are susceptible to being lifted or pushed, look into garage door repair services immediately. This leaves your vehicles as well as your home vulnerable to theft.
2. Insure your Vehicle
This is one of our car owner tips as well as avoiding tickets and impound fees tip. If you are keeping your vehicles tagged for use, you must also maintain auto insurance on the vehicles.
This does more than just protect your vehicle and bank account form the cost of repairs after an accident. It also protects other drivers, pedestrians, and vehicles from damage caused by you, which is why it is illegal to operate a vehicle without being insured.
Keep Yourself Safe
Some vehicles, like dirt bikes, mopeds, and ATVs can be used for some pretty rowdy play. This can lead to small accidents that can cause minor to serious injuries. Here are a few car owner tips to protect yourself:
- Wear a Helmet and Protective Gear: We can’t stress this enough. The lack of protective gear can make the difference between a few cuts and bruises and death.
- Maintain your Vehicles: That’s right, vehicle maintenance is important for more than just the life of the vehicle.
- Learn Basic First Aid: Being able to tend to your own wounds is important for remaining safe outside the home. Take the time to learn skills from skin abrasion wound care to performing CPR.
- Use Lawyers When Necessary: Sometimes accidents can’t be avoided. However, if you are not at fault, you shouldn’t be paying for repairs and medical bills. In fact, you may be deserving of pain and suffering payments as well. If you have been injured in an accident caused by another person, consider talking to a personal injury attorney.