As drivers, we all know we need to change our car’s oil, get new tires every once in a while and keep the tank filled. But there are some other auto maintenance and repair tasks that are nearly as important — and get far less press. If you want to extend the life of your car and keep it out of your local auto repair shop as much as possible, you’ll need to learn about them. Here are five of the most commonly overlooked tasks you should keep in mind:
- Brake Pad and Fluid Checks
Brakes are neglected surprisingly often, considering how vital they are to a safe and drivable car. Brake pads need to be changed before they start making a grinding or screeching noise (and letting them go too long will damage your brake rotors and lead to much higher auto repair costs down the road). You should also unscrew the cap on your brake fluid every few months and check out the color — if it’s dark like motor oil, it’s contaminated and could lead to brake failure.
- Regular Tire Rotations
Getting your tires rotated will give you better handling and allow you to go longer in between sets of new tires, so why not get it done? Many people overestimate the cost of this task; it’s not easy to do at home, true, but it runs around $20 at most local shops.
- Gas Cap Inspections
Gas caps lose their seal over time, which can lead to fuel evaporation and a potential safety hazard. Your check engine light may or may not come on, so it’s a good idea to do a quick visual inspection once a year. It’s an easy and cheap fix, so there’s no excuse for neglecting it.
- Wiper Blade Replacements
It’s important to remember that your wiper blades deteriorate even when you’re not using them, which means you can get stuck in a bad spot if you don’t change them out regularly and then get caught in a sudden storm. High-quality new wiper blades will increase your visibility and decrease your risk of an accident by quite a bit, and $20 or $30 once or twice a year is a small price to pay for that.
- Cleaning Out the Garage
OK, maybe this doesn’t fall under the category of auto maintenance and repair in the traditional sense, but it does affect the lifespan of your vehicle. Especially if you live in an area with inclement weather, you’ll see everything from less corrosion to longer battery life by parking your car in the garage. So get in there and sort through a few boxes of Christmas decorations you never use — your car will thank you.
What other auto maintenance and repair tasks do drivers often overlook? Share your recommendations in the comments.