Car maintenance tips to save you money and give your car a long and happy life2/6/2023
For so many of us, our vehicles are our lifelines. Cars, trucks, SUVs and vans are how we get to work, school, daycare, playgrounds, trails and so many wonderful BC getaways and everyday trips.
Since you depend on your vehicle to keep working, studying, playing and adventuring, you want to help it live a long and happy life.
Below you can find an easy and inexpensive list of things you can do to protect and maintain your vehicle. In the long run, these car maintenance tips will likely save you from paying for much bigger repairs down the line.
DIY basic maintenance
Here are some smart maintenance tips you can do on the regular to keep your vehicle in top form. You can do all of these things yourself at home, but if you’re more comfortable getting an expert to do it, bring your wheels into one of our BCAA Auto Service Centres and we’ll get an auto technician on the case.
- Check your tire pressure
Under-inflated tires create excessive heat and stress that can make your tires crack and blow. To get every last kilometre out of your tires, keep your tires inflated. Get a tire pressure gauge (they’re cheap) and use it at least once a month (and more during hot summer months).
- Replace windshield wiper blades
You may not to able (or want) to change a flat tire, change the oil, or hook up a jumper cable - that's one reason to have a BCAA Membership. But changing your windshield wipers is one car maintenance item that anyone can pull off effectively. As a rule of thumb, your wiper blades should be replaced every six to 12 months. Here’s a step-by-step guide to replacing your blades so you can safely drive during harsh BC weather.
- Top up your fluids
Every four-to-six months, you should check and top up your car’s fluids. Depending on your vehicle, you can check and top up your engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid. Here’s how to check the six essential fluids in your car.
- Preserve your door and window seals
Protect your seals to keep rain, cold, wind, sand and moisture from seeping through the gaps into your car. By regularly cleaning your car’s weatherstripping, you’ll reduce the likelihood of your door sticking to its rubber seal in cold weather, which is a common cause of damage to the rubber.
- Replacing your battery
Your battery is crucial for your car’s operating health. The last thing you want is to be stranded somewhere needing a jumpstart. In fact, car batteries are the most common call for roadside assistance that BCAA receives each year. Here are our top tips for proper car battery care.
Batteries typically last three-to-five years. If your headlights are dim, your car horn sounds strange or your electronic accessories are failing, then it may be time to replace your battery. Here’s how to safely change a car battery by removing the cables, pulling out the battery, slipping in the new battery, and reattaching the cables. If you’re have any doubts, visit one of our BCAA Auto Service Centres and we’ve got you covered.
- Change your air and cabin filters
When your engine filter gets dirty, it will cause your engine to run hot and operate less efficiently. If it gets too bad, your motor could overheat which reduces the life of the engine. Meanwhile, when your cabin filter gets dirty, it lets dust into your car’s interior and causes dirt to build up on your heating unit, ruining its efficiency.
You should change your engine’s air filter every 48,000-72,000 kilometres and it’s a really easy DIY job. Simply remove the screws that hold the filter housing in place, lift out the old filter, and slide in your new one. You’ll do a similar process to replace your cabin air filter.
As we mentioned earlier, if you don’t have the time or would rather keep your hands clean, take a trip to one of our BCAA Auto Service Centres in Kelowna, South Surrey, Victoria or Nanaimo and we’ll get your ride in tip-top shape for you.
Inexpensive things to keep your car purring
Some car maintenance needs to be done by a professional like you’ll find at BCAA’s Auto Service Centres. These include:
- Changing your oil and filter
Check your oil – if it’s between the minimum and maximum levels, you’re in good shape. However, if the oil colour is dark, check when your car last had its oil changed and refer to the manufacturer-recommended schedule to see if it’s time for another. If it’s time, bring your vehicle to a professional at BCAA and we’ll quickly set you up with new oil and a filter for a smooth ride home.
- Rotating your tires
Tire experts say you should rotate your tires every 8,000-13,000 kilometres. Here’s why: without rotation, your tires may not wear evenly. That’s because your front tires play a larger role in braking, and on front-wheel drive vehicles they have to claw for traction, so they wear out more quickly and unevenly. This all affects your car’s ride, noise level, and the life of all your tires. So, rotate your tires and you’ll spread the wear evenly to ensure even tread depth and grip.
- Checking your wheel alignment and suspension
If you drive in poor road conditions and potholes (increasingly likely given our harsh recent winters), this can be hard on your tires, wheel alignment and suspension system. So, get your alignment and suspension regularly checked, as they’re important for your vehicle safety.
- Replace your hoses and belts
Cold winter temperatures can make your rubber belts and hoses weak and brittle. If your belts and hoses aren't working properly, your engine could overheat, you could lose your power steering or your electrical charging system could fail, which are all best avoided. Get your belts and hoses checked for cracks or wear and replace any that show signs of damage.
All-around excellent car maintenance advice
Here’s some simple, good sound advice that will keep your vehicle living a long and happy life:
- Get good insurance
We all need basic ICBC Autoplan coverage for our vehicles. You can protect your vehicle even further by topping up your coverage with BCAA Optional Car Insurance.
With BCAA Optional Car Insurance, you’ll receive BCAA Member discounts of up to 20% and coverage benefits like:
- Collision coverage even if you were at fault
- Comprehensive coverage to pay for repairs after break-ins, windstorms, and weather disasters
- Excess Third Party Liability
- Free one-accident forgiveness
- Free tire protection for pothole or puncture damage
- Free family pet coverage
- Optional Smash and Grab Package for glass and personal property protection in case of a break-in
- Do annual service checkups
Even if you can’t see, hear or feel that there’s a problem, your car might be suffering. Cars need fluids changed, components aligned, and parts replaced from time to time. Regular check-ups help you prepare for upcoming maintenance and repairs by ensuring that you’re following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. This is listed in your owner’s manual and it will help reduce the chance of failed parts—and having an unwanted roadside emergency.
Roll with the experts
Year-round, BCAA is here to protect you, your vehicle, and your family as you get to work, play and road trip. You can insure your vehicle with BCAA Car Insurance and save up to 20% on BCAA Optional Car Insurance.
Then take us with you by downloading the BCAA Mobile App. It makes it easy to request Roadside Assistance from your phone, locate rewards partners and save money thanks to the power of Membership. Not a BCAA Member yet? You can get all the benefits of Membership for less than $8 per month.
And for all your auto maintenance and repair needs, visit one of our BCAA Auto Service Centres at your convenience. We even offer free brake inspections (for a limited time only*) if you’re hearing weird noises, squeals, squeaks, or your brakes aren’t stopping properly. Come see us and we’ll get you sorted so you’ll enjoy your vehicle for years and years to come.
*Limited time offer. Appointment is required. The brake inspection is a “point in time” inspection and does not constitute as any type of certification, warranty and/or guarantee. The inspection is aided by instruments and includes the removal of the car’s tires & a visual inspection of the following braking components: brake disc, rotors, pads, calipers, hoses and lines. The inspection excludes: ABS systems, antilock braking components, diagnostic of inoperable electronic parking brake assemblies, removal of any parts to access contained parts and/or hardware, vehicle stability control & traction control systems.
BCAA Optional Car Insurance and Autoplan are sold through B.C.A.A. Holdings Ltd. dba BCAA Insurance Agency, a licensed insurance agency. BCAA Optional Car Insurance is underwritten by CAA Insurance Company and Autoplan is underwritten by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.