If you’re like a lot of women, you might not feel entirely comfortable working on your own car. Even simple repairs and maintenance might seem intimidating.
But just because you’re a lady doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your own car. Even if you don’t have the skills or inclination to crawl under the car and change your own oil, you should at least know how often to have these things done. That way, you can keep your car running well for as long as possible.
Know Your Car’s Maintenance Schedule
Curious about what maintenance your car needs and when it needs it? You should be. Open your glove box and take out the owner’s manual for your car, if you still have it. The manual will contain all the information you need about how to maintain your car. It’ll tell you how often to change fluids like oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and transmission fluid. It’ll tell you how often to change filters and belts. Cars typically need scheduled maintenance every 5,000 to 7,000 miles for oil changes and tire rotation, but parts replacement and other fluid changes may take place at 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, and 90,000 miles, for example.
Hit the Car Wash
If you live in a climate that gets cold winters, you should be washing your car every six months, or at least at the end of the winter every year, to get off-road salt that can corrode the body and undercarriage. Washing and waxing your car every six months will also help keep the paint job looking nice.
Change Your Oil Regularly
Changing your oil is probably the most important regular maintenance that you need to do on your car. If you don’t do it, you could end up needing a whole new engine. You can learn to do it yourself, but even if you have your dealer or local oil change place do it, make sure you do it every 5,000 to 7,500 miles. You need fresh, clean oil and a clean oil filter each time.
Maintain Appropriate Tire Pressure
The right tire pressure will keep your tires in tip-top shape and optimize your vehicle’s fuel efficiency. Learn to use a tire gauge to measure your tire pressure. Keep your tires inflated to the recommended pounds per square inch (psi) for your vehicle. You should be able to find the right PSI for your car in the owner’s manual or on the sticker on the jamb of the door.
Learn How to Change a Flat Tire
Everyone has roadside assistance these days, but if you have a flat in a remote area or your phone is dead, you might not be able to summon a tow truck. Changing a flat tire is not intuitive, but you don’t need a full set of mechanics tools complete with pulley pullers and pickle fork tools to make it happen. You should be able to learn the basic steps on YouTube.
Replace Your Car Battery
A car battery needs to be replaced every four to five years, and if you don’t replace yours on time, you could find yourself stranded in need of a jump. While it’s always a good idea to carry jumper cables in your car, it’s less stressful and disruptive to change your battery on a schedule. Keep in mind that if you mostly only drive short distances, your battery may be chronically undercharged and this can shorten its lifespan.
Rotate Your Tires
Rotating your tires helps them wear evenly so they last longer. It’s not a job you’re likely to want to do on your own – you have to take off all four tires and put them back on. A mechanic can put your car up on a lift and have the tires off and on again in no time. Do this when you get your oil changed, every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.
Get Your Brakes Checked
Brake pads can last a long time, typically 30,000 to 70,000 miles or longer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have your brakes checked every time you get your oil changed and your tires rotated, or every six months. A mechanic should check your entire braking system for signs of wear or damage to keep your car safe.
It can be challenging to maintain a car as a woman – but no more challenging than it is to do so as a man. As long as you know what maintenance your car needs and when it needs it, you can keep your car humming along for years.