While regular car maintenance may seem like an unnecessary expense, sticking to a maintenance schedule saves you money over time. The purpose of car maintenance is to extend the life of your vehicle while preventing larger breakdowns and costly repairs. Although every part of your car can benefit from some TLC, these important maintenance services should be a top priority.  

Which Car Maintenance Services Are Most Important? 

Keep your car in peak condition with these essential maintenance services:  

  • Oil changes: Oil changes are one of the most important ways to maintain your car. Getting an oil change means draining your car’s old oil and replacing it with clean oil. Your oil needs to be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. 
  • Filter changes: Replacing your oil, air, and fuel filters regularly keeps your vehicle healthy. Your air filter is important since it stops dust and debris from entering your engine to help it last longer. Experts recommend replacing your filters every 15,000 to 20,000 miles. 
  • Hoses and belts: The belts in your car are made from a special rubber that can withstand a hot engine compartment. Even so, belts experience heavy wear and tear and can crack, strip, get brittle, and more. Hoses work with your car’s belts to ensure your engine’s cooling, charging, and air conditioning systems are working properly. Both are important components of a healthy car. 
  • Brakes: Maintaining your brakes by changing your brake fluid and brake pads as needed helps you stop and slow down safely. Brakes usually need maintenance if they start to make squeaking sounds when you stop. 
  • Spark plugs: If your check engine light turns on, your spark plugs probably require servicing.  
  • Fluids: Your car needs transmission fluid to help it move power from the engine to the wheels. Like an oil change, a transmission fluid change involves draining old transmission fluid and replacing it with clean fluid. Coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid are also essential to the health of your vehicle and should be examined regularly. 
  • Tires: Tire rotation services change the position of each of your tires to make sure each side receives equal wear and tear. Tires require rotation after 5,000 to 7,500 miles.   
  • Battery: Various factors influence the life of your battery, including age, outside temperature, and frequency of use. Change your car battery every four years, or so, to ensure your car runs properly.  

What’s the Difference Between Maintenance and Repairs?

Unlike repairs, car maintenance is a regular service that extends your car’s life, while auto repairs occur when a car part needs fixing or replacing. Neglecting your car’s maintenance needs can lead to more auto repairs in the future. For example, if you neglect your brakes for too long, you can get stranded on the side of a road and rack up expenses from towing services, costly repairs, and more, when it would have been cheaper to check on them earlier. Likewise, if you don’t replace your belt when needed, it can break at an inconvenient time and even damage your engine. That’s why the best way to avoid pricey repairs is by sticking to a maintenance schedule.  

When Do I Need Car Maintenance?

Many experts recommend using the 30-60-90 rule when determining your maintenance schedule. Your car manual probably includes a guide that uses this rule as well. The 30-60-90 rule means that most components of your car will need servicing after you’ve hit one of these benchmarks: 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, and 90,000 miles. For examples, filters need to be changed after you’ve driven 30,000 miles, batteries, brakes, and fluids after 60,000, and other components after 90,000. However, some parts, like tires and wiper blades, wear down at irregular intervals and aren’t included in the 30-60-90 rule.  

If your car needs repairs due to a collision or another covered event, a quality insurance policy can come in handy. The General specializes in affordable car insurance, even for drivers with less-than-perfect driving records. Get quoted for a policy in under two minutes or read more about car maintenance on our blog.