Car Care Tips

9 Essential Vehicle Care and Maintenance Tips

While it's likely that you've heard all of these tips before, we wanted to create a reference that can be shared with friends and family who might not know all of these tips

1. Oil Is Critical To Your Engine - While the exact frequency with which you change your oil will depend on the year make and model you own, a good rule of thumb is to replace your vehicle engine oil every 3,000 miles. When you replace engine oil, you should always replace the oil filter as well.

» Check out our Tundra and Tacoma oil filter comparisons for more info about filters.

2. Rotate tires and save - If you want your tires to last as long as possible, it's essential that you rotate them every 8,000 to 10,000 miles. This ensures even tread wear and keep the tires on the front or back of your vehicle from wearing down prematurely.

3. Check your tire pressure - Speaking of tires, you should check your vehicle's tire pressure regularly, even if your vehicle as an automated tire pressure monitoring system. If you keep your tire pressure set correctly, you'll further extend the life of your tires and eliminate the risk of a pressure-related tire failure (very low tire pressure can cause tires to overheat).

» Don't forget to check the spare!

What's more, you might ask your local dealer or tire shop about nitrogen inflation. A few studies have shown that nitrogen maintains the proper inflation pressure far longer than regular atmosphere, which in turn increases tire life.

4. Buy OEM brake pads - When your vehicle needs replacement brake pads and/or brake shoes, we strongly recommend that you buy OEM replacements rather than go after-market. The reason? OEM pads and shoes are specifically designed for your vehicle, and they compliment your brake system perfectly. After-market pads, on the other hand, can sometimes cut costs by sacrificing performance, durability, and or quite operation. While some performance after-market pads are quite good, we find that these pads really aren't for the average consumer.

5. Rotate tires and save - If you want your tires to last as long as possible, it's essential that you rotate them every 8,000 to 10,000 miles. This ensures even tread wear and keep the tires on the front or back of your vehicle from wearing down prematurely.

6. Buy a new set of blades - Windshield wiper blades might be the 2nd most important safety feature on your vehicle, right after your brakes. We generally recommend buying a new set of wiper blades every September, as they tend to wear out after a year or so. If you live in an especially wet climate, you might replace them twice a year.

7. Check all your fluids regularly - While motor oil is arguably the most important fluid to check, engine coolant, brake and steering fluid, transmission fluid, and windshield washer fluid levels should be checked regularly.

NOTE: Before you start adding coolant, transmission, brake, or steering fluid to your vehicle, check your owner's manual for instructions.

8. Are your lights working? - Next time you're at the gas station, take a minute to test all your vehicle's lights while the tank is filling. It's a quick and easy way to make sure you don't have any burnt-out bulbs. Not only can a burnt-out bulb earn you a traffic stop, but a malfunctioning headlight or taillight is a safety issue.

9. Don't leave home without an emergency kit - While it's rare to get stuck on the side of the road, if it were to happen, you would be very glad you had an emergency kit in your car. Most emergency kits contain:

  • Blankets and ponchos
  • Flares or signaling devices
  • Food and water
  • A first aid kit with basic medical supplies like band-aids, bandages, and any important medication you or someone in your family may need
  • A flashlight, jumper cables, and basic repair tools
  • If you live in a cold climate, your emergency kit should include some sort of traction aide and/or a small shovel for removing ice and snow