8 Things that every car owner should know

There are a lot of things that you can do to your car to make it last longer and allow safer operation. Here are 8 things every car owner should know. Some of these you probably know already but a few may be new to you.

1) Have a good mechanic. If you don't have a favorite mechanic that you bring your car to, find one before you need repair.  Your local factory authorized car dealer is always a good way to go, especially if you bought your car there. If an independent shop is easier for you, word of mouth is a great way to find out their reputation. You can also go online and look at reviews, such as Goggle+ or Yelp. A word of advice: don't always go with the cheapest guy or the place closest to your house. Do your research and make sure the mechanic or dealership have good feedback.

2) Don't ignore tire rotation.  If you rotate your tires, they will last longer.  It's simple; rotating your tires spreads the wear out more evenly over the four tires. By the way, if you are buying new tires, make sure you have a front end alignment too.  That will assure your tires are aligned properly to the chassis and will make them last longer.

3) Investigate "Check Engine lights." Check Engine Lights (CELs) illuminate when your car's computer suspects that something is wrong.  In virtually every case, Kayser Auto Group of Madison, WI, a used car dealer explains, it's not a serious issue. If CEL turns on, you can generally make a trip back home but try and get to a good mechanic just so you can have the problem identified.

4) Maintain suggested tire pressure. This is an important one because when you drive with underinflated tires, you get poorer gas mileage and your tires will wear out quicker. Most gas stations have an air kiosk where you can add air to the tires. Get in the habit of doing it once per month and you will save money.

5) Change your oil as per factory recommendations. While the rule used to be every 3,000 miles between oil change intervals, that's no longer true for all cars. Check your manual to know when your vehicle's oil should be changed; you'll likely find it is around 5,000 to 8,000 miles now.

6) Check all fluids of your car. It's a good idea to know how to check and "top off" your car's fluids. This means antifreeze, oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and windshield wiper fluid. Your owner's manual can tell you where all these items are located under the hood.

7) Have an emergency kit in your car. It's a great idea to have a roadside emergency kit with flares, a flashlight, a set of jumper cables and a first aid kit, just in case you need it.  If you live in areas that receive a lot of snow, you might also want to get one of those small folding shovels too.

Take a driver's education class.  By the way, if you are becoming a new driver, consider a driver's education class. Even if your state doesn't require them, driving classes can teach you about good driving habits and safety procedures.

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