8 Ways to Reduce Trips to Your Mechanic

a man removes a car battery

When something goes wrong with your vehicle, the necessary repairs can be costly and inconvenient. Luckily, there are many things you can do to prevent car issues from cropping up.

1. Look Out for Radiator Leaks

If your car's cooling system is behaving strangely, it’s a good indication that you have a radiator leak, which can be expensive to fix. To prevent it from occurring in the first place, check the connectors in your car regularly to ensure that they’re joined firmly in the right spots. Also regularly flush and replace your coolant to keep your radiator working smoothly.

2. Regularly Check Tires

Flat tires are a huge bummer when they occur out of the blue, requiring an unwanted trip to your mechanic, or at least the purchase of a replacement spare. To minimize the chance of flats, drive carefully and avoid running over anything sharp that could puncture your tires, and regularly check the air pressure of your tires. If tires are over or under inflated, too much friction will occur, resulting in ripped treads that can lead to a pesky flat.

You can also rotate your tires, which distributes the wear and tear they endure more evenly. This process should be performed roughly every six months or 7,000 miles (11,265km).

a woman changes a tire on her car

3. Keep Your Gas Tank Full

Are you one of those drivers who allows your gas tank to get down to the last couple gallons before scurrying into a gas station? If so, you could be doing damage to your car. Letting your car run on fumes can cause the electric fuel-pump motor to overheat, leading to its premature demise. That means more money spent by you. Instead of risking that issue, top up your tank whenever it gets down to a quarter full.

4. Don’t Speed

The faster you drive, the more likely it is that you’ll need to stomp on your breaks here and there to stop in time. That means they’ll get worn out quicker than if you were abiding by the speed limit on a regular basis. These regulations were created not only to keep you safe, but also to keep your car in working condition. Follow the speed limit and you’ll visit the mechanic less frequently.

5. Replace Your Battery Regularly

Car batteries dying unexpectedly are a major inconvenience. Instead of letting this happen to you, have your battery replaced while your car is in the shop for regular maintenance, killing two birds with one stone. Remember that vehicle batteries drain more quickly if many devices are connected to them, such as charging phones or tablets. One sign of a dying battery is dimmer lights—if you notice this happening to your car, consider charging or replacing your battery.

a woman uses the stick shift in her car

6. Shift to Neutral

Show your car some TLC by shifting into neutral at stop lights. Doing so puts less strain on your engine and transmission, which otherwise continue working to push the car, even when stopped.

7. Keep Your Keys Light

This one may not seem like a big deal, but having a hefty keychain plugged into your car’s ignition can actually put a strain on it. The weight of this bouncing around during a car ride can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition, leading to switch failure. Take unnecessary keys off or split your collection into multiple rings to avoid this issue.

8. Use the Right Fluids

It’s important to keep your windshield fluid topped off, but sometimes drivers are tempted to add water to this reservoir. Doing so is a bad idea and can damage your car. This is because it may freeze in cold weather, causing serious damage to the tank. Only add washer fluid to ensure no issues arise with the pump.