Car Care 101: Comprehensive DIY Maintenance Tips for Used Cars

Purchasing a used car is a practical decision that affords significant cost-saving benefits. At MyCar, our mission is to provide you with an extensive inventory of top-quality pre-owned vehicles, backed by our renowned Certified Pre-Owned Program. Once you’ve selected the perfect vehicle, maintaining it is crucial to keep it running smoothly and looking sharp. In this blog, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of DIY maintenance tips for your used cars, ensuring a longer lifespan and potentially saving you money on future repair costs.

Close-up hands of auto mechanic Cleaning car engine at used cars repair shop

1. Regularly Inspect and Replace Fluids

All vehicles, including used cars, rely on a variety of fluids to keep their engines running smoothly. Check your oil, coolant, brake, power steering, and windshield washer fluids to ensure they are at appropriate levels. For proper maintenance, consult your owner’s manual or visit our MyCar blog for instructions on how to check and maintain these fluid levels. Make a habit of replacing your oil every 5,000 to 10,000 kilometres (or even sooner, depending on the make and model) to ensure optimal engine performance.

2. Keep Tires Properly Inflated

Under-inflated or over-inflated tires adversely affect your car’s fuel consumption and overall performance. Regularly inspect your tire pressure (including the spare) and make necessary adjustments to ensure they are within the recommended range. Remember to rotate your tires every 8,000 to 12,000 kilometres (or sooner, depending on how you drive) to extend their lifespan and maintain even wear. Don’t forget to align the wheels if you notice any pull while driving or uneven tire wear.

3. Regularly Replace Air Filters

Clogged or dirty air filters reduce your engine’s fuel efficiency, leading to increased emission levels. Check your air filters every six months or 12,000 kilometres—whichever comes first. When they appear dirty or clogged, replace them with fresh ones. Keeping your air filters clean is a simple, inexpensive way to ensure your used car performs at its best.

4. Check Your Brakes

Brakes are an essential safety feature in any vehicle, especially used cars. Regularly inspect your brake pads and rotors for any damage or signs of wear. If you notice unusual noises like grinding and squealing or your car pulls to one side while braking, consult a professional mechanic for expert advice. Properly functioning brakes are vital to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.

5. Maintain Your Used Car’s Appearance

Keeping your car clean, both inside and out, is critical in preserving its appearance over time. Regularly wash and dry the exterior to remove dirt, grime, and road salt that could cause corrosion. Additionally, apply a layer of car wax every six months to protect the paint. Preserve the interior by vacuuming the carpet, seats, and floor mats, and using specifically-formulated cleaning products for the dashboard and upholstery. Upholding your car’s appearance doesn’t just make it more enjoyable to drive; it can also prolong its lifespan.Worker washing red car with sponge on a car wash at used cars repair shop

6. Inspect the Battery

Your vehicle’s battery is critical to ensuring smooth engine starts and supporting all electrical components. Check your car’s battery for any signs of wear or damage, including corrosion around the terminals. Clean the battery terminals with a baking soda and water solution, and a wire brush to keep them free of build-up. If the battery is older than three years, consider replacing it before it becomes unreliable.

7. Inspect and Maintain Belts and Hoses

Your car’s belts and hoses are crucial components that ensure the proper function of your engine and other systems. Inspect them regularly for signs of wear, cracking, or damage and replace them as needed. Your owner’s manual will provide information on when to replace specific belts, like the timing and serpentine belts. Keeping your belts and hoses in top condition can prevent unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.

8. Keep a Maintenance Schedule

Create a maintenance schedule for your used car, outlining when specific components require attention or replacement. Regular maintenance can help you prevent costly repairs and extend the life of your vehicle. Keep track of your car’s service history, as this information can be valuable for resale or trade-in purposes, and can also help you diagnose any recurring issues.

Conclusion: Becoming a Proactive Vehicle Owner

Purchasing used cars from a reputable dealership like MyCar sets you on the right path toward vehicle ownership. However, it’s your responsibility to maintain your car to ensure its long-lasting performance and value.

By following these comprehensive DIY car care tips and keeping up with regular maintenance, you can enjoy a safe, reliable, and well-performing vehicle for years to come. And remember, if you ever need professional assistance with any maintenance tasks or repairs, don’t hesitate to consult expert mechanics or visit a trusted service center. MyCar offers full-service maintenance and mechanical repairs at both our Ottawa and Kingston dealerships.