Making sure your car is in tip-top shape is fundamental to its overall performance.

Buying a vehicle goes beyond just getting an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, it means routine checks on all engine components to check for potential problems.

Don’t just take your car into the shop only when it’s making a noise or the engine fails to start.

Preventative care can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars in expensive repairs and part replacement.

Here are few things to check and when.

1. Oil And Transmission

Your oil is the bloodline of your vehicle’s overall health. Failure to maintain it and keep it clean will slowly contribute to problems within the car’s engine.

A good rule of thumb is to have your oil changed roughly every 3,000 miles or once every three months. But this number can change based on the manufacturer’s recommendation for your vehicle’s make and model. Some new vehicles don’t need to have oil changes every 3,000 miles and go up to 11,000 miles, depending on the oil being used and the performance of the vehicle.

Asking an oil change specialist, such as Integrity First Auto Salt Lake City, or your local auto shop, when to come back is the best way to make sure you’re getting oil changes at the right time.

The transmission is also important for car maintenance.

Around 30 to 60,000 miles for transmission changes is something to strive for. If you have a truck or use your vehicle for hauling, you’ll want to have more regular, routine transmission servicing.

2. Cooling System

Keeping things cool under the hood is vital for your car’s engine.

Your vehicles cooling system is a complex intertwining of fans and compression hoses that work at making sure it doesn’t overheat. The radiator, fans, and belts work together to keep heat under control and give maximum power to the engine. It’s important that you check your own fluid levels on a monthly basis and replace low antifreeze and coolant as needed, this can help you save some money on mechanic’s fees.

See the pros for a professional coolant system evaluation. They will flush the system and top up or replace fluids as needed. Ask your mechanic to check them at least every two to three years, but they typically will check them during a routine oil change.

3. Tires And Suspension

Your tires and overall suspension are an important part of how you car maneuvers and goes down the road.

Anything from an under-inflated tire to an overinflated one can affect steering, gas mileage and ultimately your car’s suspension. Making sure that everything is in good shape is important every time you go down the road.

You can check the air in your tires yourself with a tire gauge. For example, Goodyear suggests most of their tires need a pressure reading of around 35 or 44psi. If it’s low, you’ll need to fill and adjust accordingly.

You can also check your own suspension by pressing down on the hood and trunk. If your car moves a lot or makes noise when doing this or going down the road, it’s time to get the suspension checked by your mechanic.

4. The 21-Point Safety Inspection

If you’ve had an oil change, they may ask you if you want a 21-point safety inspection done. This goes over 21 different vehicle safety concerns, including:

  • Checking levels and topping up all fluids
  • Adjusting belts and hoses
  • Going over your vehicle’s overall steering system
  • Inspecting the exhaust manifold and components
  • Looking at drive axle and its overall performance
  • Examining vehicle lights and turn signals

While these are just some of the points they touch on, they will also let you know if anything else stands out that could be a potential problem. While it’s not the same as running a complete diagnostic, this type of inspection picks up on things that a computer may not. It’s a great way to detect potential problems before they trigger major engine failure. While a 21 point inspection should be done by a mechanic, some of the less complex mechanical issues can be checked by you.

While times and miles fluctuate on when to have exact servicing done due to different makes and models, the best person to ask is your mechanic. He will set you up on a routine maintenance program that will benefit your vehicle and ultimately save you money over time.