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As a first-time car owner, having a good understanding of car maintenance is essential to the vehicle’s life. A well-maintained vehicle will have fewer issues and cost less to own in the long run. Additionally, it will help with the resale value if the vehicle is adequately maintained. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep a good record of any maintenance done to the vehicle.

Thankfully, car care can be easy even if you aren’t a mechanic. Knowing what to avoid is just as important as knowing how to fix something that breaks in your car. Here are five mistakes to avoid as a new car owner. 

1. Don’t procrastinate with scheduled maintenance as a first-time car owner

People buying a car that should remember mistakes that you should never make as a first-time car owner.
People buying a car | Getty Images

Consumer Reports has a few tips for vehicle maintenance. Most vehicles come with a recommended schedule of maintenance services. For example, you will want to rotate your tires after a specified amount of miles or change your oil after a different number of miles. 

This is a proactive plan to keep your car running properly and should not be delayed. If you don’t change your oil at the recommended intervals, for example, you risk permanent damage to your engine, which can shorten the overall life of your vehicle.

2. Don’t forget to monitor your tire pressure

Your tires keep you and your car in contact with the road, so it’s crucial that they are well-maintained. Most newer cars come with a tire pressure sensor that will alert you if one of the tires is underinflated, but don’t rely on that. Sensors can and do malfunction, so it’s best to check them manually every so often.

Underinflated or overinflated tires can cause excessive wear on the tires and will wear out faster. In adverse road conditions, this could also affect the handling of your vehicle and lead to an accident.

3. Don’t ignore smells, noises, or leaks

If you notice an unusual odor or noise, try to determine the cause. You won’t want to ignore leaks either because this can lead to significant malfunctions such as engine and transmission problems. These repairs can become costly quick. Without fluid, those components will fail quickly.

Odd noises or smells can result from worn belts or an undetected leak. Also, if you hear a slight squeal coming from your tires when braking, this is an indication that it is time to get your brakes checked.

4. Don’t wait until your car breaks down to find a mechanic

It’s a good idea to have an established relationship with a mechanic before you start encountering problems. Dealerships are usually the best options because the mechanics have experience and specialized tools specific to your car. However, local mechanics will often have lower labor rates. 

5. Don’t ignore your owner’s manual as a first-time car owner

The owner’s manual for your vehicle will include information such as suggested maintenance schedules and the kind of oil and transmission fluid required for your vehicle. By getting familiar with your owner’s manual, you will know where to get the information you need when the time comes.

Regarding vehicle maintenance, it is better to be proactive than reactive. Ignoring leaks or procrastinating when it comes to having your vehicle serviced can be costly mistakes. Many of the items that can be replaced or serviced on your car can be done by you in your driveway, such as changing the wipers or checking to oil and tire pressure. For larger jobs, like changing timing belts or brakes, it is best to leave those tasks to the professionals.


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