Car care tips

The central theses

  • By keeping up with the maintenance of your car, you can prevent extensive – and costly – damage.

  • It’s a good idea to take your vehicle to a mechanic for a general inspection once a year.

  • Cars often lose about 60 percent of their purchase price in the first five years of ownership, but by keeping an eye on routine maintenance, you can preserve your car’s value.

Owning a car means more than filling up and driving to your destination. If you want your vehicle to last, you need to take care of it, which means regular maintenance. These car maintenance tips will help keep your car running smoothly between trips to the mechanic. Because the more you know about your vehicle, the faster you can spot a problem and have it looked at by a professional before a small problem becomes a big one. And maintaining your vehicle can help your car retain more value.

How car insurance helps with car care

While auto insurance doesn’t prevent your car from breaking down or ensuring you never get into an accident, it does provide you with financial protection either way. If your vehicle is damaged as a result of a covered event, the insurance company may assist in repairing the damage or replacing the vehicle, depending on your coverage and the extent of the damage.

However, standard car insurance usually only covers repair costs if they were the direct result of an accident. With regular wear and tear, some providers offer Mechanical Breakdown Insurance (MBI) to cover the cost of repairs not related to accidents or incidents. MBI works much like a warranty and generally covers repairs to brakes, drivetrain, engine, exhaust, steering and transmission (to name a few).

Take care of your car

While taking your car to a mechanic regularly is the best way to prevent major repairs, there are a few things you can do in your own garage to keep it in good condition.

A graphic showing a car and any areas that a car owner may need to inspect and service.

A graphic showing a car and any areas that a car owner may need to inspect and service.

  • Check all your lightbulbs: Turn on your car’s lights once a week to make sure no lights are burned out. Walk around your vehicle and don’t forget the rear daytime lights. If you spot a blown bulb, you might be able to replace it yourself for a few dollars.

  • Wash and wax your car: A car wash doesn’t just make your car look good: Regular washing and waxing removes dirt, pollen, oils, road salt and other dirt deposits from your car which, if left untreated, can lead to paintwork damage and rust.

  • Check fluids monthly: Every month you should check your oil, coolant, washer fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid and differential fluid. If you check each of these items monthly, you’re more likely to spot fluid leaks before they do too much damage.

  • Change your oil regularly: How often you change your oil depends on your driving style (short or long trip, highway or city, etc.), the make and model of your vehicle, and the type of oil the engine requires. During an oil change, it’s also a good idea to check your car’s battery and air filter and see if any wheel alignment or wheel rotation is needed.

  • Schedule recommended maintenance: Flip through your owner’s manual to see how often certain parts of your vehicle need servicing – and set a reminder on your calendar so you don’t fall behind. Some newer cars will also remind you when it’s time for certain routine maintenance.

  • Check your wipers every six months: To avoid getting caught in a downpour with a streaked windshield, check your wipers every six months. As soon as you notice that your windshield wipers are leaving streaks or fog marks on the windshield, you should replace them.

  • Change your engine air filter: Engine air filters keep dirt and other particles out of your engine so it can run smoothly and efficiently. Even if it is checked at other maintenance dates, check it at least once a year and replace accordingly.

  • Keep an eye and ear on your brakes: Watch your brakes while driving. If you notice noise from the brakes or notice a tremor or vibration in the pedal, make an appointment with a mechanic.

  • Check your tires: Check every month that your tires are properly inflated according to the recommendations in your owner’s manual. Every time your car goes in for service, you should also ask the mechanic to check the tread depth of your tires.

  • Change belts and hoses regularly: Even if your belts and hoses are in good condition, it’s still recommended to have them replaced every two to three years, with the exception of the timing belt, which should be replaced every 60,000 miles.

Average cost of common car repairs

AAA estimates the cost of car maintenance at 0.69¢ to 0.76¢ per mile. The exact repair cost will vary depending on the age, make and model of your vehicle. In general, however, you can expect the following costs for some common auto repairs.


How often

average cost

oil change

Every 5,000 to 7,5000 miles

$35 to $75

tire change

Every six years

$140 to $500 per tire

tire rotation

Every 5,000 to 8,000 miles


transmission service

Every 30,000 to 60,000 miles

$1,200 to $6,000

brake service

Every 10,000 to 20,000 miles

$250 to $400 per axle

battery replacement

Every four to five years

$45 to $250

Source: AAA

frequently asked Questions

    • Data from AAA shows that drivers will spend approximately $894 each month owning and operating a new vehicle in 2022, an 11 percent increase from 2021. As with other aspects of car ownership, how much you pay during the year depends on the make and model and how much of the repair you can do yourself. In general, repairs on luxury vehicles are more expensive than on cheaper models.

    • Just like how their engines work, electric cars and petrol cars also differ in terms of maintenance costs. Routine maintenance and repair costs tend to be lower for electric vehicles than vehicles that use gasoline. However, electric cars lose value more quickly.

    • Of all the brands on the market, Lexus and Toyota vehicles typically require the least amount of repair work. But how often your car needs repairs, or how much those repairs will cost, depends a lot on how well you take care of your vehicle.

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