Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He also has an MBA from the University of South Florid...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Oct 31, 2020

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Our cars get us to where we need to go.

They keep us entertained and even give us a sense of pride.

The least we can do is show them a little love.

A properly maintained car is a loved car. 

What is the best thing to do to maintain your vehicle?

The most important thing to do to a vehicle is to change the oil.

You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to see the benefits of giving your car the love it deserves.

With regular maintenance on your car, you’ll get peace of mind and a fatter wallet by reducing your risk of emergency repairs.

What bad and good oil look like on a dipstick.

Illustrated above is bad oil on the left. That needs to be changed. And on the right is good oil.

You’ll save money by putting off future car payments.

You’ll keep you and your passengers safe, and you’ll even enjoy a smoother ride.

Many car owners put off proper maintenance because they think maintenance means paying exorbitant costs.

I know because I’ve been there.

Fortunately, I’ve learned that there are a few simple things you can do to show your car some love and pay less for maintenance in the long run.

They saved me money, and I’d like to share them with you to help you enjoy those same savings.

How often to check your tire tread & pressure?

You should check tire pressure and tread wear every month.

When I first started driving, the only time I thought about my car’s tires was when I got a flat.

There is no quicker way to get a headache than getting a flat while driving.

I know you can relate to that.

Little did I know that I could reduce my risk of a flat with just a few minutes each week and save myself money.

How to check your tires for pressure and tread wear.

Today, most cars have an indicator light for tire pressure, but they don’t have a light for tread wear. Illustrated above is showing you how to check for tread wear and tire pressure. US Air Force photo illustration from airman Jason J. Brown.

It was after my third flat tire that I said enough is enough.

I was driving through a snowstorm to get home from work.

Within moments, my car spun out.

I figured the hazardous roads were to blame, so I slowly made my way home.

When I got out of the car, I checked the tire.

I had a flat.

I figured I had run over a nail or some other sharp object.

After all, I thought flats only happened when some unfortunate soul ran over an errant nail.

Little did I know.

You see, I didn’t run over a nail or any other sharp object.

I failed to check my tires regularly.

How often should you rotate your tires?

By checking your tire pressure once a month and rotating your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles, you can reduce your chance of getting a flat, according to Michelanman.com

Car tires wear faster when they aren’t properly inflated.

They wear unevenly when they aren’t rotated.

Outlined below is an oil change and tire rotation schedule.

Make Oil Change* (miles)**Tire Rotation (miles)
GMC7,500 7,500
Honda7,500 5,000
Volkswagen10,000 5,000
BMW15,000 5,000
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*many vehicle manufacturers recommend rotating the tires at an oil change. Some vehicles don’t need an oil change for 10,000+ miles. This is too long for a tire rotation.

**new model vehicles only. Older model vehicles will require an oil change at 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

The less tread wear your tires have, the more vulnerable you are to getting a flat.

The benefits of checking your tires don’t stop there since you lose 1 lb a month, according to Michelanman.com

Tires that are properly inflated will help you get better gas mileage.

That means you’ll save money on gas by not having to fill up your tank as often.

Regularly rotated tires wear more evenly, which means they will last longer.

By getting your tires rotated with every oil change, you won’t have to buy them as frequently.

Again, you’ll save money.

With just a little love for your career each week, you’ll save yourself the headache that comes with a potential flat while also saving yourself money now and in the future.

Taking care of your car tires sounds like a no brainer… because it is.

How often to do oil changes?

You should check your owner’s manual for the type of oil and change schedule.

Many vehicles need an oil change every 3,000 miles, while others are 5,000 to 7,500.

Some vehicles, like Jaguar’s and BMW’s, need an oil change every 15,000 miles.

changing engine oil at scheduled interval.

Make sure you check your owner’s manual for the type and oil change schedule.

You’ve probably heard at least one person foolishly brag about driving for tens of thousands of miles without ever changing their car’s oil.

I know I have.

But to be honest, any car owner bragging about that is either lying, or they are about to get hit with a major emergency repair cost when their engine fails.

It’s a story my mechanic loves talking about.

An unloving car owner drives his or her car into the ground and then complains about their car breaking down and leaving them stranded at the side of the road.

When a car’s oil doesn’t get changed, it turns into a sludge that dirties your engine and makes it work harder than it should.

The harder your engine works, the more gas it needs.

The money you thought you saved by skipping that oil change will instead be spent on gas.

That’s if you’re lucky.

When your car’s oil turns into sludge, it prevents heat from escaping your engine.

Your engine will overheat and either warp and seize, or you’ll be stuck with a blown head gasket.

Talk about a costly nightmare!

The best maintenance for a vehicle

That’s why I think a routine oil change is the best way to show love for your car.

Changing a car’s oil is affordable and necessary for the well-being of its engine.

It’s the best way to prolong the life of your car and stave off high-cost repairs.

Other items to check regularly:

  • Battery charge
  • Brake pads
  • Air filter
  • Hoses & belts
  • Spark plugs

When you should change your oil depends on your car and the type of oil used.

Most engines require the oil to be changed between 5,000 and 7,500 miles.

Cars made in the last few years will likely let you know when it is time to change the oil.

If you really want to develop a bond with your car and save money simultaneously, you can change the oil yourself.

Just be sure to follow the proper steps for draining your car’s fluid, set the correct oil level, and safely and properly get rid of your car’s old oil.

If you are like me and aren’t confident in your oil changing abilities, don’t stress.

I take my car to a local service center I trust.

That way, I can get my oil changed, other fluids checked and topped off, and my tires rotated all in one shot.

It may cost a little more to have a service center change your oil, but you’ll still save money in the long run and protect your engine in the meantime.

How often to check your car’s fluids?

You should check your vehicle’s fluids every month.

Brake, battery, and transmission fluid should be checked every 3 to 6 months.

Wiper fluidEvery service schedule or when empty
Battery2 x per year
Air filter15,000 - 30,000 miles
Hoses & Belts4 years or 40,000 miles
Spark plugs20,000 to 40,000 mils
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Flashback to my first car: a white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

It met its demise while I was on my way to Rochester for a summer semester of college.

Cause of death? Transmission failure.

Sadly, I could have easily prevented transmission failure by taking a few moments each week to check my car’s fluids.

Instead, I was stuck on the side of the road, waiting for a tow.

I loved that car, but I didn’t give it the love it deserved!

Chalk it up to being a young and irresponsible (at the time) car owner that never thought about checking my car’s fluids.

Checking your car’s fluids goes hand-in-hand with getting your oil changed regularly.

Doing so can help you prevent being stuck on the side of the road with a broken-down vehicle.

Often, your local service center will check the fluids for you when you get your oil changed.

Most cars will have some indicator warning on the dash interface when fluids get low.

It is still worth regularly checking for leaks.

In most cases, you’ll be able to figure out what fluid is leaking by its color.

Don’t forget the little things

Regularly checking your tires and fluids and changing your oil goes a long way in taking care of your car’s most basic needs.

You can do a few other things to show your car a little love and improve your driving experience.

How often to test your headlights and brake lights?

You should check your headlights and brake lights every week.

While your car might tell you if your tire pressure is low or if it is time for an oil change, it likely won’t do the same if you have a burnt-out bulb.

That’s why it’s not surprising to see at least one car driving at night with only one functioning headlight or brake light.

how to check brake lights by yourself

How to check your brake lights by yourself? Place a broom-stick handle or 2 x 4 piece of wood on your brake to check the brake lights.

While a burnt-out bulb won’t cause mechanical damage to your vehicle, it could get you a ticket or make it harder to see at night.

Testing your car’s headlights is as simple as turning them on and checking to see if your car is emitting an equal amount of light from both bulbs.

Testing your brake lights isn’t as easy.

Unless you get super creative, you’ll need someone’s help to check if the lights are working as you step on the brake pedal.

How often to replace your windshield wipers?

It would be best if you changed your wiper blades every 12 months.

Old, worn-out windshield wipers will do you no good during heavy rain or snowstorm.

Windshield wiper blades typically last for about 12 months before needing to be replaced.

If they are cracked or show signs of damage, you may need to replace them sooner.

Fortunately, windshield wipers are really easy to replace on your own, and many stores will replace them for you free of charge if you ask.

When to replace your car’s floor mats?

Your vehicle’s floor mats should last from 3 to 5 years.

While it’s purely cosmetic, getting new floor mats for your car will keep your car looking clean and smelling fresh.

New floor mats may not extend the life of your car or make for a safer driving experience, but your passengers will appreciate them!

How often to review your car insurance policy?

You should review your car insurance policy every 12 months.

One of the best ways to give your car the love it deserves is to ensure it is protected with an adequate insurance policy.

It’s worth it to regularly review your coverage to ensure you are getting the best coverage for your money.

If you’re driving a new car, you’ll want to consider comprehensive and collision coverage.

In any case, it’s worth discussing your options with an insurance agent.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.