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5 maintenance checks to do on your car every month

Presented by CarShield - CarShield Cars Go Farther!

Presented by CarShield - CarShield Cars Go Farther!

Call 800-CAR-6000 and mention code KIM, or visit CarShield.com and use code KIM to save 10%.

Routine maintenance is an essential part of car ownership. Fixing minor problems before they become significant ones will save you big time in the long run. Even more importantly, a well-maintained car is safer.

If your vehicle falls under a recall, it’s a good idea to get it fixed as soon as possible. Some of these issues could make your car dangerous to drive. A whopping 50 million vehicles on the road have open recalls. Tap or click here to find out if your car is subject to a recall and get email notifications of future recalls.

Most routine maintenance can be completed at home with just a few tools. Just because the steps are easy doesn’t mean they’re not important. Here are five ways to keep your car running in tip-top shape year-round.

1. Check your tire pressure

Your tires are the only contact between your car and the road. When road conditions are less than ideal, your car’s “shoes” are your first and last barrier. A four-wheel drive system helps in inclement weather, but this feature is only as good as your tires.

Your tires perform best when properly inflated and can do the job they were designed to do. Regularly checking tire pressure levels affects the following:

  • Tire traction between your vehicle and the road.
  • Traction, in turn, affects braking distance.
  • Shock absorption and comfort.
  • Handling in general, including cornering and turning.
  • Fuel efficiency: You can improve gas mileage by up to 3% with proper tire pressure, according to the Department of Energy.
  • Treadwear and tire life.

How do you know how much air your tires need? It’s easy! Check your owner’s manual or the label affixed to your car’s driver’s side door edge for proper tire pressure levels. Use a reliable tire pressure gauge and pump to inflate or deflate each tire as needed. Do this when the car has been idle and the tires are cool, or you’ll get inaccurate readings.

It’s a good idea to check your tire pressure once a month, even if your car is equipped with tire pressure sensors.

Digital tire gauges are generally cheap, durable and easy to use. You can get easy-to-read accurate readings in small increments. Keep one handy in your glovebox at all times. We like this one from AstroAI, which has high ratings and more than 50,000 reviews:

Buying a new car? Tap or click here for the best tech options worth paying for

2. Check your tire tread depth

See a pattern here? We cannot emphasize how important tires are to your overall safety. Tire tread refers to the rubber on the tire that touches the road and is known as the contact patch. As you drive, the tread wears down, affecting braking distance, grip and vehicle control.

Your tire tread depth needs to be at least 2/32 of an inch deep. There are a couple of quick ways to check tire tread depth:

  • Tread wear indicators, or wear bars, can be found in the main grooves in the tire tread. When you see that they’re flush with the level of the tread, the tire should be replaced.
  • Insert a quarter upside-down into the grooves on multiple points of your tires. That tire must be replaced if you see the top of George Washington’s head.

You should check your tire tread depth once a month. A tire depth gauge will give you an accurate reading anytime you use it. This one from Godeson is color coded for easy and precise readings:

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3. Check your windshield wiper blades

Your wiper blades deal with any combination of heat, ice, dirt, dust, bird droppings and dead bugs to keep your windshield clean and clear. Not to mention they’re incrementally worn down every time you run them.

Go for a drive in the rain or pour water over your windshield and run your wipers. Check for uneven performance across both of your blades. Don’t forget the rear wiper if your vehicle is equipped with one.

Rubber wiper blades break down and are easily replaced. Your vehicle’s manual should tell you what size wiper blades you need. There may be different size requirements for the driver and passenger sides, so read carefully before replacing the blades.

You can go to rainx.com/blade-size-finder and enter your vehicle’s year, make and model on top of the page to get a list of correct sizes and options for your car. Rain-X is a popular choice for wiper blades and its latitude series has nearly 100,000 reviews on Amazon (be sure to choose the correct size from the dropdown menu):

4. Check your fluid levels

Pop the hood of your vehicle and you’ll see plastic reservoir tanks with brightly colored caps. These hold various fluids that are easy to monitor and maintain. You can visually gauge the levels by looking at the lines imprinted on the side of the tanks.

Let’s discuss one of the more common fluids: coolant. This word speaks for itself. A typical pre-mixed engine coolant contains antifreeze and water, preventing overheating and freezing. It also lubricates moving parts such as the water pump.

You should top off your coolant whenever the fluid level is below the guide marks. Check at least once a month or anytime you pop the hood. Check your owner’s manual for the proper type of coolant.

Zerex Dex-Cool outperforms industry standards for resistance to freezing and heat (go here to find the proper Zerex coolant for your car):

5. In case of emergency

Even the most well-maintained vehicles can break down and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keep blankets, towels, nonperishable food, and water bottles in the car. A small first-aid kit can be stowed anywhere.

Flashlights, maps, basic repair tools, cell phone chargers, and warning devices such as flares or reflective emergency markers are good for year-round preparation.

A dead car battery means you aren’t going anywhere. And a dead phone battery means you can’t even call for help. One do-it-all tool can help with both.

RELATED: How to modernize your old car to make it safer and easier to drive

Protect your car year-round

Computer systems in cars are the new normal. When something breaks, it could cost a fortune. And now is not the time for expensive repairs. That’s where our sponsor, CarShield, comes in.

You could save thousands on covered repairs. CarShield offers customizable and flexible payment plans with no long-term contracts — plus, you can choose your favorite mechanic or dealership to do the work. They also offer 24/7 roadside assistance and a rental car while yours is being fixed.

CarShield has helped over 1 million customers! Drive with confidence with America’s No. 1 auto protection company. Protect yourself from surprises and save thousands for a covered repair!

Call 800-CAR-6000 and mention the promo code “KIM,” or visit CarShield.com and use the code “KIM” to save 10%.

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We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

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