12 Tips and Tricks to Ensure Your Car is Running Great

Use these simple tips and tricks to keep your car in tip-top shape.

Two friends driving in a car
Updated July 18, 2024
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Cars are so embedded into modern life many of us can't function normally without one. But if you don’t look after your car regularly, it can cause a wealth of issues in the long term.

With the rising cost of living causing people to look for ways to save money on car insurance, groceries, utilities, and other recurrent bills, many people don’t need the additional financial pressure from a problematic car.

Here are some tips and tricks you can do to get the most out of your car and prevent major issues by catching them early.

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Curb your speed

Daxiao Productions/Adobe confident driving grandma

If you want to go through the year without any trips to your favorite mechanic, then ease up on the accelerator.

While it might be fun to pretend you’re head-to-head with Lewis Hamilton on the last lap, it can cause a lot of damage to your car.

By slowing down, not only will your car thank you, but there’s less chance of getting into an accident which is another way to ensure your vehicle will last.

Top off your tank

Maksym/Adobe pumping gas

When fuel levels are low, your engine draws in debris and sediment from the bottom of your fuel tank to power your car.

These materials can clog your system and cause issues later on, especially if you own a diesel car.

Keeping fuel levels high could prevent expensive repairs and help you get the most out of your vehicle.

Wash your car frequently

REDPIXEL/Adobe car detailing

Washing your car regularly not only keeps it looking fresh but also helps it last longer. Removing dirt and debris can help the car’s paintwork stand the test of time.

The paintwork protects the car’s body underneath; if the body starts to deteriorate, more critical parts will be next.

Depending on how much you use your vehicle and where it is parked, how often you wash your car can vary. But on average, once a month should stop any damage from occurring.

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Schedule oil changes

Pixel-Shot/Adobe

The oil is one of the most critical elements that must be checked regularly to ensure your car is working optimally. Usually, people will approach oil changes in two different ways.

One will change their oil every 3,000 miles regardless, and one will never change it until something goes wrong. Both of which are incorrect.

Check the owner’s manual to get the most out of your car and oil. It will tell you the best time to change your car’s oil depending on the make and model.

Monitor your tires

New Africa/Adobe mechanic checking tire air pressure at car service

Along with changing your oil, monitoring your tires should be on your routine maintenance list. If they’re not correctly inflated or incredibly worn, there’s a greater risk of a puncture or a blowout.

If your tires are wearing down unevenly, there’s a higher risk of something worse happening. Rotating your tires will ensure that they’re worn evenly so that you can get the most out of them.

Change your air filters

admirdervisevi/Adobe changing the air filter

Many people are hesitant about changing air filters. It’s usually an extra charge mechanics try to add on top of a basic service that causes people to question its importance.

However, dirt, dust, and debris can quickly harm your car’s engine and shorten its life. Ensuring your air filters are changed regularly will safeguard your engine’s future.

The frequency in which the air filters should be in your owner’s manual, but on average, every 15,000 to 20,000 miles should do.


Pay attention to your car

kleberpicui/Adobe cheerful woman enjoying new car hugging steering wheel

Everyone knows how this story goes; one small sound leads to an even bigger sound, which leads to the car breaking down.

One of the best things you can do to ensure your car has a long life is to get the small warning sounds resolved to prevent worse problems later. Your car and wallet will thank you.

Use the parking brake

Lazy_Bear/Adobe female hand pulling handbrake in the car

If you’re living in a city, you may not use the parking brake a lot, even when parking your car in the evening. But whether parking on an incline or not, you should always use the parking brake.

Using the parking brake ensures that the system is getting enough use so it doesn’t deteriorate prematurely and fail when you need it the most.

Keep your battery from dying

F8 \ Suport Ukraine/Adobe man having trouble with his broken auto

If you’ve not used your car for a while, try driving it at least once a week to ensure the battery does not die, especially during the winter months.

If the battery does die, jump-starting a car can cause unnecessary strain on the battery and damage the engine management system or delicate electronics, which are becoming increasingly prevalent in automobiles.

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Service your car regularly

Gorodenkoff/Adobe manager checks car diagnostics on a digital tablet

Most service intervals are based on distance traveled rather than time, since the more you drive your car, the more wear it gets. This is where the owner’s manual comes in once again.

A mechanic will usually indicate when the next service should be after they complete the previous one. Generally, a car should have a minor service once a year, where the oil and oil filter are replaced.

A major service should occur every two to three years, where additional services like changing air filters and spark plugs are completed. Keeping to a service schedule will ensure your car is in tip-top shape.

Warm up the engine

Halfpoint/Adobe woman holding the cars side mirror

Most of the damage that occurs in a car happens when you start an engine from cold.

Engine oil is ineffective until it is warmed up and can then lubricate the engine. Getting the engine’s temperature up quickly can ensure no problems occur.

The best way to warm up a car is to start it, wait for 60 seconds so the oil can warm up and circulate, and then drive it gently for the first few miles.

Make quick and regular checks

Rostislav Sedlacek/Adobe Man checking his tires

Checking your car regularly can help you catch minor issues before they deteriorate into huge problems and cause damage to your car and wallet.

In addition to oil, air filters, and tires, check the wiper blades, coolant, spark plugs, brakes, air conditioning, and interiors for any issues. It may take time, but it could save you a significant amount of worry.


Bottom line

Home-stock/Adobe man sings while driving his car

There are many ways to prolong the life of your vehicle. By giving it a little attention regularly, you can avoid throwing your money away on problems that could have been solved easily or cheaply when they were minor issues.

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Author Details

Ryan Clancy

Ryan Clancy is a freelance writer and blogger. He's passionate about all things finance and tech, especially personal finance, and bringing it down to a level that everyone can understand. Ryan lives in New York City, and writes about all types of finance and tech at sites such as Forbes, iCap, Nas Academy, PolicyScout, Integrate.io, and many more.