Regular car maintenance doesn’t have to be a hassle. By taking ten extra minutes the next time you stop at the car wash, you can combine the task of cleaning your vehicle and making sure everything is in working order. Save time by getting everything done at once and save money by taking care of potential problems before they arise.
As you walk around your car soaking, scrubbing, and rinsing, keep an eye on these features:
- Body for cracks/dings/scratches
- Wipers for wear and tear
- Headlights and taillights for cracks
- Tire tread and condition
- Windows and windshield for damage/deep stains
Although it’s not recommended that you leave your car running or the lights on while you’re washing the car, you can also take a moment to flip the lights on and perform a walk-around that way. This will let you know if any of the lights need to be replaced. (If you have someone with you, have them sit in the driver’s seat and press the brakes so you can check those lights, as well.)
It’s also a good idea to keep a pressure gauge in your car toolkit so you can check the pressure in your tires. Many car washes have air available, so it’s a good time to inflate should your pressure be low.
As you’re vacuuming and dusting the car’s interior, look at:
- Tint for bubbling/peeling
- Vents for heavy dust/poor air quality
- Seat belts and child seats for security
- Odometer/check engine lights for any needed updates
- Mats for excessive wear and tear
- Upholstery for stains and rips
This area tends to be the easiest to look over, as most interior issues will come to your attention as they arise.
Under the Hood
If you aren’t sure what you’re looking at when you crack open the car’s hood, you may want to have your mechanic walk you through the basic maintenance steps the next time you’re in for a tune-up. Although the engine can be intimidating, you can attend to many of these issues on your own, especially if all the car needs is a fluid topped off:
- Air filter
- Accessory belts
- Battery (especially for acid buildup)
- Fluid levels (coolant, oil, automatic transmission fluid level, brake fluid, power steering fluid, windshield wiper fluid)
- Hoses and wiring
With the right amount of prevention and care, you can improve your car’s appearance while ensuring it runs well for years to come. Pack a car wash prep kit and take a few extra minutes to get the most out of your automotive investment. You—and your car—are worth it!