With National Car Care Month fast approaching (April, FYI), there's no better than the present to give your car a little TLC. The average car lasts for approximately 11 years, a number that has increased from 8 years in 1995. But if you want to keep your car "road worthy," you'll need to perform some basic maintenance.
Change the Engine Oil
The single most important form of regular maintenance is changing the engine oil. Engine oil servers several different purposes: it wicks heat away from the engine, traps particulate matter, and it lubricates the engine and its components. With that said, you don't necessarily have to change the oil every 3,000 miles. Most modern-day vehicles are capable of driving for 5,000 miles or more before needing an oil change.
Replace the Spark Plugs
When was the last time that you replaced the spark plugs in your car? Known as a "sparking plug" in the UK, these components are used to deliver electricity from the ignition to the vehicle's combustion chamber. Spark plugs have a gap that gap through which this electrical current flows. Over time, however, the gap may widen, resulting in inefficient spark and subsequent poor combustion.
Change the Air Filter
The air filter can affect the performance of your engine, as well as its gas mileage. This is why it's a good idea to change the air filter at least once every 10,000 miles or once a year.
Of course, you should also get into the habit of checking your car's tire pressure. You look inside the door jamb to find out how much pressure the automaker recommends for your tires. Being that different cars have different shapes, weight and other factors, it's a good idea to follow these recommendations. Driving around on overinflated tires increases the risk of a blowout, while driving around on underinflated tires burns more fuel.
In addition to pressure, you should also check the tread of your tires. A simple way to tell if your tires need replacing is to place a penny head-down in the tread. If you can see any of the Abe Lincoln's head, there's not enough tread left to safely drive; thus, you should replace the tire.