When was the last time you brought your car in for a good check-up? We all know that the value of your car depreciates the minute you drive off the dealership’s lot, but there are quite a few things you can do to make your vehicle last a bit longer and to have a better resale value.
It’s a great idea to check these off the to-do list once or twice each year:
1. Cha Ching: Check your auto insurance rates, and do a little homework. If you’ve been with the same insurance company for… ever? Challenge them to shop around a little bit for you – and do some homework yourself. Compare notes. (And once they know that you’re actually doing a little research? Watch your rate drop!) Rates change as your age, driving record, or distances that you might be driving to and from work change. It’s a worthy little task to put on the to-do list once each year. Get your friends involved, and see who can come up with the best deal.
2. Check that sticker: If you live in a state that requires vehicle inspections, the sticker on your windshield helps you out with this one, so this is easy: Get that inspection to make sure you’re driving around a safe car with the kiddos. This is also a perfect time for you to …
3. Change that oil: You don’t have to do it quite as often as people think. Pop the hood and lift the stick. If it’s black and thick and really goopy, now’s the time. Important tip: Team up #2 and #3, drop off the car for an hour, and go grab a latte!
4. Clean the air filter: This is an easy one to take care of when you’re getting your oil changed, as they’ll most likely offer that option to you, as well.
5. Want better gas mileage? Check the tire pressure. Go buy a $20 tire gauge; if you’re not sure how, have the local hardware guy show you how to check your tire pressure. Your owner’s manual will tell you what your vehicle’s tires should read, and the local gas station has the air pressure machines. Pump those babies.
6. Switch ‘em up! Have your four tires rotated once each year. And for goodness sake – and for safety’s sake – if you’re in a winter wonderland zone, go for the real snow tires! You will be safer, and you will then be fully entitled to talk out loud while driving up the slick hill behind the silly slacker who didn’t put on the snows put. Phrases like, “My tires are better than yours are!” and “Hey! You make me slide off the road because you didn’t get YOUR winter tires, and it’s gonna get ugly” may give you a little ego boost. Those snow tires make any vehicle perform better, too.
7. Scrub a dub: If you’re in a snow zone like I am, get the car washed during those winter months. The salt and muddy slush can do a real job on the car’s exterior. And, hey, you wouldn’t want to go a month without a shower either, would you? Share a little soap and love, and clean your car-pal.
Lastly, keep a little maintenance log in your glove compartment, and bundle it in with your insurance papers. Keep track of what you do to your car; your memory might fail, but the pen and paper lists won’t!
Valerie Wilson is a freelance writer who likes to write about the millions of to-do lists that seem to keep us all sane—including how to find the best California car insurance. As a result of writing this particular article, she may or may not have realized that she’s been driving an uninspected car for the last three weeks. Her to-do list for tomorrow just got a little longer.