DIY

How To Take Care Of Your Car Like A Grown Ass Adult

Even Vin Diesel would be proud of you and your ride.

Posted on

1. Clean the inside and outside of your car every month. Seriously.

funnyfanatics.com / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: Keeping your car clean is like keeping your room clean, except everyone can see your car and gauge how dirty (or clean) you are. Grab ArmorAll's cheap but awesome vacuum, to clean the inside of your car, a bottle of Optimum's car wash for the outside of your car, and make your car look brand new.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: An unclean car will eventually attract dirt and grime that can damage your interior and exterior, and probably won't earn you any extra props from that person you like.

2. Change your oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles and use a reliable brand.

Robert Couse-Baker (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: Every car maker has different things to say when it comes to oil, but most experts agree that it's good to change it out regularly. If you're confused on what to use, most cars work well with synthetic oil like Mobil 1, and it's usually easier to get your oil replaced at a shop versus doing it yourself.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Your car needs oil to lubricate your engine and stop detergents, so make sure you follow these steps to check your oil every other month or so. If your car doesn't have fresh oil, dirt will build up and eventually kill your engine, which will cost thousands of dollars and your happiness.

3. Check your tire pressure every month and rotate your tires every 7,500 miles.

One Change (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: Incorrect tire pressure can lead to a ton of problems, including poor breaking, instability, less gas mileage, and of course, a flat tire, so check your tire pressure with a gauge. Also, rotate your tires often to make sure that they wear evenly, making sure you get the most before replacing them.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Replacing your tires will cost anywhere from $350 to $700, while a tire pressure gauge and rotation cost about $10 and $50, respectively. If your tires need to be rotated, simply take them into a dealer or auto body shop.

4. Get your brake pads replaced every 25,000 miles or sooner if your brakes are wearing down.

Cheezburger / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: It's always a good idea to have your brakes checked out every so often by a professional, as a nasty grinding noise can bring an unpleasant worry. A big part of this are the brake pads, which resist loss of brake power at high temperatures and can be replaced by a mechanic if needed.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Neglecting your brake pads will eventually lead to your brake rotors failing, leading to a $300 to $600 replacement and at worst, an emergency you don't want to deal with.

5. Make sure your mirrors are always good to go.

alannisbarnes.tumblr.com / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: Having eyes in the back of your head would be the driving advantage, but unfortunately we're only human and the next best thing we have are mirrors. A good, clean set of front and rear view mirrors can save you from a lot of trouble on the road.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Driving with dirty or no mirrors at all makes you everyone's least favorite driver on the road, and that's probably the last thing you want to be.

6. Maintain your car's interior to keep its resale value high.

Toyota

Why It's Important: Grime has chemicals that will eat away at things like your leather dashboard or vinyl seats, eventually leading to your car looking like a flithy time machine. Thankfully, products like Meguiar's Quik Interior Detailer and Leather Honey are relatively cheap and help keep everything looking like the day you got it.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: A dirty, unkept interior can lead to you losing hundreds of dollars when you try to resell your car, meaning you'll have less money towards the dream of something new. Keeping your car's interior fresh isn't that big of a commitment, so you should get it over with.

7. Change out any bad headlight bulbs as soon as you can.

Reddit / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: Driving home in the dark can turn into an absolute nightmare if one of your headlights isn't working correctly or showing a very dim light. Most of the time, this is caused by a dead headlight bulb, which can be checked and replaced with something like a Sylvania High Performance Bulb that'll last much longer.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: You should never consider the risk of driving at night without proper headlights, and you're also bound to be pulled over with the cops if you try. Generally, replacing a headlight bulb yourself is pretty simple and requires just a few steps and tools.

8. If you're not going to drive your car for a while, make sure it's properly stored.

Cook24v (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: If you're going to be away for a bit, make sure your car is covered, clean, topped off with gas, and started every so often to keep the battery fresh. If no one's around to drive or start your car, you can buy a battery tender which stops a discharge.

The Cost of Not Doing It: Not keeping your car properly stored can lead to a dead battery, hurt engine, and even some unpleasant creatures living under your car's hood. Those rats and spiders won't help you pay your repair bills if anything happens, so it's best to store your car the right way.

9. Change your air filter every 30,000 miles or every year.

Ricardo Velasquez (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: Think of your car's air filter like your lungs: It's important you keep them clean and healthy so that you breathe easier and harmful things don't affect your breathing. For a car, a dirty air filter will hurt your acceleration and make your car less efficient, making an inspection and new air filter every so often important.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Your car isn't going to explode from a dirty air filter, but it's possible that leaving one in can cause your engine to fail and damage your combustion chamber. Spend 15 minutes to pop a new air filter in and you'll forget why you worried in the first place.

10. Get some Rain-X products for your windows to guard yourself from water.

Rain-X

Why It's Important: Rain-X makes two products that deserve your attention, one being a spray for your car's glass that repels rain and another being windshield wiper blades that do their job well. Spraying your car with Rain-X is pretty easy, while you should inspect your wipers every six months and change them if necessary.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Rain-X isn't essential for your car, but nothing beats the peace of mind you get watching rain drops fall of your windshield or watching your wipers deflect everything.

11. Make sure your car is ready for a cold winter.

PommeGranny (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: Mainly, you want to make sure your car's heating and defrosting units are working properly in addition to everything else, and you also might want to consider snow tires which will make drives a little less slippery. There are also a ton of great hacks out there for scraping ice and not letting your locks get frozen.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: You don't want to deal with a car that's literally too cool to start, and the snow can cause you to drift a bit more than you want to. Proper car care throughout the whole year will make sure you're ready for whatever comes.

12. Keep your engine's temperature balanced with antifreeze every 15,000 miles.

Bandita (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: Antifreeze and coolant, which are together in many products, help keep your engine from overheating or freezing in all kinds of temperatures. A reliable gallon of antifreeze usually runs for about $10-$15, making it easy to keep everything running well in your radiator.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Without any sort of antifreeze in your radiator, your engine will overheat, killing its seals and gaskets, causing leaks and leading to a really expensive repair. Take the $10 bottle, follow some simple steps, and skip the shop.

13. Check if there are any recalls on your car that you may not know about.

AFP / Getty Images Jim Watson / Via Vox.com

Why It's Important: Currently, General Motors is recalling a massive 1.3 million cars because of power-steering failures. If you didn't know this, or are concerned for your own car, it's a good idea to take your Vehicle Identification Number (usually found on the top your engine or driver's side door) and put it on the NHTSA's website to see if you fall under a recall.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Faulty cars often lead to really bad things, like leaks that cause fires, broken accelerators that don't allow someone to stop, and even air bags that go off for no reason. Spare yourself the depressing thoughts and get your car checked out for a recall.

14. Save your car maintenance receipts to make future repairs much easier.

Ben_Osteen (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: When you take your car into a shop for a check up, mechanics will often ask you about the last time your changed your oil or rotated your tires, so it's good to keep receipts from past work. Also, having those receipts will help you get more money for your car if you ever decide to sell, acting as proof that you took care of it.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Not being able to prove that you've taken care of your car with work can knock you out of a warranty, leaving you with a tremendously costly repair at almost any dealer you go to. If you have trouble keeping receipts, at least snap a photo with your phone to have some proof.

15. Clean bird crap off of your car as soon as you can.

James In Balto (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: You may not know this, but bird droppings are very acidic and eventually burn and ruin any paint job they come across. If you see it land on your car, quickly clean it off, and if that's too hard, consider a car polisher or compound to fix the damage.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Getting a brand new paint job over some bird's bathroom break on your car is a bit crazy, but it can push you toward that idea if it's been too long. New paint jobs are not cheap, so it's best to clean your car's exterior often to keep everything looking new.

16. Consider getting some add-on gadgets to protect your car from damage and theft.

4gifs.tumblr.com / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: A lot of us see our cars as our children, so like any good parent, we want to protect them from the crazy world out there. Specifically, add ons like BumperBully's bumper protector, blind-spot mirrors, or Magnasonic's steering wheel security lock are all worth considering.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: While everything listed above aren't completely needed for your car, the added peace of mind you get from knowing your bumper is protected or knowing your car has a decreased chance of being stolen is priceless.

17. Keep the bottom of your car clean by getting some reliable floor mats.

Ka29.com

Why It's Important: Not only do car mats provide cushion and relieve your feet from heat, they also keep dust and water from causing an absolute mess in your ride. Investing in quality, easy to clean mats like the ones made by OxGord help ensure that you aren't bringing anything into your car you don't want.

The Cost of Not Doing It: Letting stuff like sand, water, and dust fall onto your car's interior is probably going to cost you a lot of time in cleaning, and can have some unintended effects on your car if left long enough. 5 minutes cleaning a mat or an hour cleaning your car's carpet, your choice.

18. Check your spark plugs every 30,000 miles and replace them every 60,000 miles.

Nazly Ahmed (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: Spark plugs are necessary for any car to function well, and while most last for a long while, it's still recommended you make sure yours aren't affecting your engine as a whole. Every 30,000 miles, get yours checked out by a shop or dealer and make sure to replace them if they've gone bad.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Bad spark plugs can lead to horrible gas mileage and a lack of acceleration, along with a whole host of other problems. Eventually, bad plugs can greatly impact an engine, leading to what could be a lot of troublesome repairs.

19. Don't cheap out on car insurance. Ever.

Reddit / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: You might be the best driver in the world, but all it takes is one bad driver to leave you and your car out of action for a long while. Top rated car insurance companies like GEICO, State Farm, Amica, and USAA (if you're eligible) allow you to stay covered for accidents and repairs, while cheap insurance may not cover all the harm to you, your car, or to other people's property.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: While it's common sense that you should never drive a car without insurance, you should pay for quality when considering a company to cover your car. Good insurance can get a bit expensive, but it's ultimately worth the peace of mind you get knowing you're covered if anything happens.

20. Prevent damage to your car by parking in the shade and using a window shade.

Herry Lawford (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: Letting your car roast under a hot sun can cause some unwanted heat damage to your interior and paint job. Find a nice tree and park under it, and if there isn't a tree, buy a nice sun shade to stop the burn.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: In addition to causing interior damage, UV rays from the sun can melt plastics, crack your dashboard, and cause fading on your paint job. It also isn't the most pleasant thing to sit in a scorching hot car, so for the sake of you and your butt, find some shade.

21. Keep copies of important papers in your glovebox and leave some originals in a safe place.

King Huang (Flickr, Creative Commons)

Why It's Important: If you're ever pulled over or something happens to you on the road, it's important to have documents like your registration, proof of insurance, and medical information on hand. It's fine to make copies of all three specifically for your car. However, make sure you leave other documents like your vehicle title and other personal papers somewhere safe, as they might contain information for thieves to sell your car or find where you live.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Replacing any original documents can be a pretty big hassle, and no one wants to subject themselves to their local DMV more than they already have to. The same goes for personal papers, so make sure you leave the ones with sensitive information at home and make copies of the ones you need to.

22. Ask an expert about car trouble when you're not sure yourself.

Cheezburger / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: Cars are just as complex as they are wonderful, and you shouldn't ever force your way into fixing a problem if you don't know exactly what's wrong. When in doubt, take your car into a dealership or a shop to see what's going on and save yourself the trouble and frustration.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Sometimes, attempting to fix one thing by yourself can lead to breaking more things, which just makes it a mess for you and your mechanic. At the end of the day, you don't want to be the person hitching a ride to work in a tow truck because you poured antifreeze directly into your engine.

23. Can't keep track of when to change your car's parts? Use Edmunds website.

Edmunds

Why It's Important: Your owner's manual usually shows you what you should be doing at a certain mileage, but who wants to actually go through that? Thankfully, you can easily enter your car's year, make, and model on here and easily see when something like your spark plugs or your brakes pads should be replaced.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Not knowing your maintenance schedule at all and can lead to a neglected, unhappy, and ultimately broken car. You don't want to walk everywhere, do you?

24. Don't drive recklessly.

i8urpenguin.tumblr.com / Via Giphy

Why It's Important: Sometimes, you really need to drive somewhere and you can't help but to go full speed. However, driving like the world is ending all the time will eventually take its toll on your car, while driving a bit more calmly will only help to preserve your vehicle's life.

The Cost Of Not Doing It: Playing Speed Racer trip after trip will eventually lead to more stress on your car, leading to repairs on your engine, brakes, and more that you would rather not pay for. On the other hand, driving with a more normal attitude will save you these repairs and even add to your gas mileage.