Your car is a major investment, and it also gets you where you need to go. As such, it deserves proper care and maintenance to keep it running well. Many accidents are due to car problems that could be easily prevented with a little simple vehicle maintenance. You can perform many routine checks on your car yourself, and for many of them, you can also handle them without having to be a mechanic.

If you take good care of your car in this way, you’re going to make it last longer for you, too. You’ll also get better gas mileage, less in the way of exhaust problems, and extended tire life. Routine checks in your car will also mean that you’re going to be able to see small problems before they become big ones that could cost you a lot of money or even be dangerous. Keep up with your car’s maintenance schedules so that these problems can be detected and repaired. This will lower your car expense bills, too.

What should you do to take the best care of your car? Here are some things you should keep in mind:

Begin with the basics. Check your car owner’s manual and follow the recommendations concerning oil changes, tune-ups and other routine maintenance tasks.

Oil and oil filters should be changed as needed, or about every 3000 miles, for most cars. Some cars do allow more mileage between changes, so check your owner’s manual.

Checking the fluid levels should be a task that you perform weekly. Brakes, oil, transmission, power steering, radiator and overflow tank all need to be monitored to make sure that the proper levels are being maintained. You should also make it a habit to check the level of cleaning solution available for use on your windshield. It only takes a few minutes to do these checks and top off any fluids.

Tires should be checked for proper pressure at least once a week. If your tires are under or over inflated, your car will be less fuel-efficient, and it could even be dangerous to you.

Check tires for wear patterns, the amount of tread you have left, and any cracks; also make sure no nails or tacks have been picked up that could be causing you to have a slow leak. Make sure his well that hubcaps and lug nuts are securely fastened.

Schedule and take your car in for regular tuneups. If your spark plugs or fuel injection are causing problems, your fuel mileage could be reduced by as much as 35%. It may be tempting to postpone tuneups, and a lot of people do especially if their cars appear to be running fine, but don’t. Take your car to a professional mechanic so that your engine is thoroughly inspected for any problems that are small now, but that could be bigger later.

Make sure your chassis is regularly lubricated as well. This means your car’s suspension is going to remain optimal. Usually, the shop that changes your oil will also perform chassis lubrication as part of the service.

Keep an eye on your battery, especially the cables and posts. If you notice a build up of corroded material it can be cleaned off with a wire brush. Making sure that the connections are secure is an easy task and can mean the difference in a car that starts and one with a dead battery.

Windshield wiper blades should be changed at least yearly and should be inspected every month to make sure that they are still in good working order and don’t have cracks or other problems. You can apply a protective coating like Rain-X to your windshield every two weeks, to improve visibility when it’s raining heavily.

Headlights should also be checked. Also check taillights and turn signals at the same time, once a week. Make sure there are no burned out bulbs, as this can cause you to have an accident or other problems, because they’re not working.

It may seem like a lot to undertake: to follow a checklist every week to maintain your car well, but doing it on a regular basis will soon have it be second nature to you. And because you’re proactive in this way, your car is going to stay running well and in good repair for much longer, which means that it will perform well for you much longer, too.

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