Car Care 101: What You Need to Know Now

car care 101
Written by T.E. Wing

Here’s what you need to know to keep your car running at its best. By T.E. WING

When you put a bunch of your hard-earned cash into the purchase of a car, truck, motorcycle or another vehicle, you’re hoping that our big spending will give us years of utility and enjoyment.

But it isn’t just about hope, of course. The future of our vehicle is not totally beyond your control. What you need to do to take care of your vehicle to keep it going strong.

Cleaning and storage

When most of us think about the care and maintenance of a vehicle, we think about auto mechanics, oil changes, and replacement parts. Those are all important (and we’ll talk about them shortly), but so is something very basic: Keeping your vehicle clean!

If you let your vehicle get dirty on the inside and out, you’ll cause it to age more quickly and may torpedo its resale value. On the flip side, regular cleaning (and occasional detailing work from qualified professionals) will help your car or motorcycle better maintain its value. This should be a no-brainer for all car owners who understand the actual cash value.

Driving or riding

If you want to use your vehicle for a long time to come, then you need to consider how you’re using it. When you drive your car or motorcycle in an aggressive manner, you’re taking years off of its life.

Sharp turns, sudden braking, and aggressive acceleration can all put a strain on your vehicle. While a high-performance vehicle can certainly handle the occasional high-speed turn or slam on the brakes, regular stress isn’t good for the lifespan of any vehicle.

If you want your car or motorcycle to last, go easier on it. Accelerate steadily and (when safe) slowly. Take turns at sensible speeds and don’t constantly be hitting the brakes. When life is easier on your vehicle, your vehicle’s life will be longer.

Routine maintenance

Your most important ally in the fight to keep your vehicle in pristine condition is, of course, your mechanic. So read lots of reviews, ask friends and acquaintances, and choose your mechanic carefully. Ideally, you should find a mechanic who specializes in your vehicle’s type, make, and perhaps even model.

Once you have a trustworthy mechanic, rely on them to make important calls about maintenance and repairs. The key is to be proactive because stopping problems when they’re small (or before they even happen) is a whole lot easier and cheaper than waiting until they’re full-blown disasters.

Repairs and replacement parts

Occasionally, you will need to invest in some serious repairs. No vehicle is indestructible, unfortunately, and you’ll need to consult with your mechanic about your options when the time comes. You’re generally going to want to go for the sure thing, say experts in motorcycle parts: OEM (“original equipment manufacturer”) parts will likely last you longer and perform more reliably than off-brand parts. Don’t let cheapness cost you more money in the end, say the motorcycle parts experts at nationwide motorcycle parts and accessories retailer Chaparral Motorsports.

Body repair

It’s not just what’s under the hood that matters! You should be paying attention to the exterior of your vehicle, too, the paintless dent repair experts at Main Auto Body explain. Cars and motorcycles can get dinged up, and dents and scratches can be more than cosmetic problems. If rust gets into those spots, it can spell doom for your whole vehicle, explain experts in paintless dent repair. It’s easy to get issues like this fixed, so don’t put it off. The future of your vehicle depends on it.