New drivers have a lot to think about. It takes a ton of concentration to maintain the correct following distance, stay alert for pedestrians, follow GPS directions, and keep up with the flow of traffic, for starters. On top of the basic driving skills, you also need to take care of your vehicle. Cars require regular maintenance to keep them safe and efficient.
So if you’re not a mechanic, where do you start?
1. Windshield Wiper Blades
To be effective, your wiper blades need to maintain contact with the windshield, be sturdy enough to move ice and snow, yet flexible enough to bend without breaking. Over time, extreme temperatures break down the material, leaving you with big smears that are hard to see through. Replace these every six to 12 months.
2. Engine Air Filters
Engine air filters keep dirt and debris from entering your engine, where it can gum up the works and lead to damage over time. Keeping your air filter clean also helps you get the best gas mileage possible, as your car runs more efficiently with better airflow. Replace these every three years or 30,000 miles.
3. Cabin Air Filters
Cabin air filters work with your car’s heating and air conditioning systems to keep the air you breathe free from dust, pollen, and other particulate matter. Every car has a different recommendation for these, so check your owner’s manual for details. If you suffer from allergies, though, you’ll want to swap these out every six to 12 months.
4. Oil Filters
By now you’re getting the picture, right? Filters on your car need to be changed as part of your regular maintenance plan. Your oil filter traps dirt and other debris so it doesn’t congeal in your oil and get distributed around your engine’s moving parts. It should be changed every time you change your oil, which is typically every six months or 6,000 miles.
Tires don’t last forever, and driving with bald or severely worn tires is incredibly dangerous. A blowout on the highway could cause you to lose control of the vehicle at high speeds. Your treads need to be at least 1/16 of an inch thick for safety, which you can check with a penny. If you insert a penny into the tread and it doesn’t hit the top of Lincoln’s head, it’s time to change your tires.
6. Spark Plugs
Spark plugs provide a tiny explosion of energy that keeps the internal combustion going so your engine can move. Spark plugs get old and worn out just like everything else, leaving you with an inefficient engine that idles loudly or unevenly. Replace these every 30,000 miles.
7. Your Inspection Sticker
Finally, many states have laws requiring you to have your vehicle inspected for safety, emissions, and more. If your state requires an inspection sticker, you can be pulled over and cited or fined for having one that’s out of date. Check the rules in your area and set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget. Some states require this every one to two years.
If you’re a new driver looking for more tips to keep you safe and confident on the road, IDriveSafely.com can help!