Easy and effective car maintenance

Driving is fun. Being prevented from driving is not fun.

I could stop right there, and let my editor smile with pride at my terse efficacy, but I’d be leaving out the really easy and cost-effective ways to keep common automotive problems from preventing your fun. So let’s take a look at some vehicle maintenance tips that will keep you on the road and in the fun.

Wiper blades

If you can’t see, you are effectively in an enclosed, flying, steel box. Keep your windshield clear for you to see while you drive, which is a winning combination. We recommend changing wiper blades every fall, as you’ll probably be using them more as winter approaches. Changing blades is fast and easy, and they cost anywhere from $10 to $30.

Quick tip: It’s a good idea to top off your windshield wiper fluid at the same time, so you can keep grime and dust out of your view.


Tire pressure changes one PSI for every 10-degree change in temperature Fahrenheit, according to AAA, so we recommend that you check your tires each week and adjust as necessary. Inflate to the recommended pressure shown in your vehicle owner’s manual.

Quick tip: If you don’t have your owner’s manual handy, the proper tire pressure is also often noted on a sticker located on the driver’s doorjamb, along with other useful information. Check it out.

Check and fill fluids

In addition to the windshield wiper fluid, it’s recommended that you check all other fluids, including engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid. For each fluid type, always use the grade recommended by your owner’s manual.

Quick tip: Note each recommended fluid type in the front of your maintenance log (see bonus tips below), and keep them on hand, ready to top off as needed.

Bonus tips:

Check your spare tire – Check and maintain proper pressure, and be sure it’s accessible in case of emergency.

Replace the air filter – This is super-easy, and should be done when you’ve spent a lot of time around dirt and grime.

Battery terminals and lights – Make sure each light is working properly. Most bulbs can be changed using minimal or no tools. If you see corrosion on the battery terminals, disconnect the electrical cables and clean gently with a wire brush.

Keep an auto log – There are GREAT apps out there for this, but nothing beats a pad and pencil in the glove compartment. We recommend making notes for each date and event you perform maintenance or pay someone else to do so.

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