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conquer car care

Whether your car is brand new or has been around the block, mechanical problems will arise. But by being proactive, you can head off a lot of headaches. This MasterKit will guide you through some common repair scenarios, help you find a trustworthy mechanic and ensure you're not getting taken for a ride.
reading a car repair manual
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Become a Better Car Owner By Breaking These Habits

It's a great feeling when you can successfully maintain and repair your own car, but it's easy to fall into certain habits that end up hurting it in the long run. Here are some tips on how to become a more self-aware car owner.

Cars can feel like part of the family. They're constant commuting companions, they ferry children from school to soccer, and they literally make family road trips possible. You want to keep your car in good shape, and you want to do it yourself, but sometimes you can mistakenly interfere with the way your car runs and/or drives. How do you keep your at-home auto maintenance on-track? It's simple - just avoid these behaviors:

1. Procrastinating
The most potentially expensive car maintenance mistake you can make is letting little things slide when you're busy or stressed. With your headlights, for example, the fix for dim or burned-out bulbs is quick, easy, and cheap. Since poorly performing headlights reduce your ability to see and other drivers' ability to see you, putting it off can lead to a ticket or cause an accident. It can also be tempting to ignore warning lights or vehicle recalls, but letting potential problems linger is a guaranteed way for them to get bigger.

A good trick to stay on top of your car maintenance is to set time limits for each repair. Give yourself one weekend to deal with a known problem. If you can't finish it in the time you set aside, consider booking an at-home repair appointment with YourMechanic, where mechanics come to you.

2. Not Taking a Closer Look
It's easy to fall out of the routine of checking your tire pressure, inspecting your air filter and, in general, just looking for signs of wear and tear on a regular basis. When was the last time you inspected your engine's serpentine belt and checked it for proper tension? How about your car's battery? Are the cables making good contact or is there so much corrosion that you can't even see the battery post? Monitoring stuff like this (and more) is something that's really easy to forget or simply overlook, until a small issue becomes a real problem.

If you make taking a closer look a part of your weekly or even monthly car maintenance routine, it'll pay off in the long run. Repairs are almost always more affordable when they're done proactively instead of reactively.

3. Doing It (Incorrectly) Yourself
Maintaining your car yourself is a great way to save money, as long as you know what you're doing. Replacing your own brake pads, for example, can save you hundreds of dollars. But minor mistakes, like spilling a little lube on the wheels or pads, can mean your brakes won't work at all. The same is true with electrical work, which can lead to a vehicle fire if it's not done exactly right.

Even simple jobs can go awry if you're rushed or distracted. Forgetting to torque the lug nuts after your car comes down from the jack or failing to tighten the cap on your oil pan can lead to disastrous consequences.

So how do you prevent an at-home mishap during or after your next repair job? Always double- and triple-check any DIY maintenance you perform on your car. In fact, even the pros sometimes use a checklist to ensure that everything is back in place, tightened down or sealed-up the way it should be before handing the keys back to the customer.

4. Performing Unnecessary Maintenance
While following the proper steps to maintain your car is important, it's easy for worried drivers to go overboard and pay for work that isn't necessary for the sake of peace of mind. Your mechanic may ask whether you want services that your car isn't due for, or recommend premium products that may not pay off in the long run. Rather than approving all the upsells your mechanic offers, familiarize yourself with what your car needs (and when it needs it). Your owner's manual is your best resource to keep you from spending extra money on services, premium fuels, and additives you don't really need.
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