5Ws+1H: Why It's Done: Basic vehicle maintenance can save money later

Vehicles wait to be reparied and maintained at Tommy Nix Auto Group in Tahlequah.

Transportation is a necessity, making a reliable and well-maintained vehicle important for getting around town - especially where public transit is limited.

There are plenty of reasons to have routine maintenance done. Not only is it safer for drivers to keep their cars in good condition, it could also prevent the resale value from dropping.

The standard time frame for getting oil changed used to be every 3,000 miles, or three months, but car owners should do research for themselves, as there are discrepancies between manufacturers and mechanics on how frequently it should occur. Older vehicles might need it sooner than newer models, as many recommendations from manufacturers and others report a vehicle is good for 5,000 to 10,000 miles.

Greg Stone, of Port City Body Shop, said people should check their vehicles' manuals to determine what kind of oil to use before they buy any.

"They're all pretty similar, but some of them are a little different," he said. "So it's best to just read the manufacturer's recommendation on that. Especially on transmissions and stuff like that, it's important, because they do have a lot of different types for each transmission."

Those who take vehicles to a shop for oil changes should also see if the establishment will rotate the tires. The cost of a tire gauge and a rotation can be much less than replacing the rubber. This can be done every other oil change, said Stone, who added it's important to maintain proper air pressure.

"You can get premature wear on your tires if they're low, or if they're too high," he said.

The air filter needs to be checked frequently to ensure a car is breathing appropriately. A dirty filter might hurt the vehicle's acceleration. They can be cleaned out with an air blower, but at some point, the owner will need to buy a new one, and they are not costly.

Although he said some youngsters might not think about their vehicles' maintenance, Stone said they should check fluid levels periodically.

"You probably wouldn't have to do it weekly, unless it's an older vehicle, but I would just kind of keep your eyes on it," he said. "If you have a leak and you didn't check, then you wouldn't know you had a leak. It's kind of pre-maintenance by just popping your hood up and checking your fluids every now and then. It will definitely make a difference."

While many owners might regularly consider their vehicles' oil and tire levels, they may overlook the battery. Over time, a battery can begin to corrode, which can cause issues when the driver tries to fire it up.

Owners will notice corrosive green, white or blue buildup around the battery's terminals, posts or cables. Stone said a wire brush will help clean it off. Also, owners might want to use a mixture of baking soda and water, which will help erode the corrosion caked onto the battery.

After the battery is cleaned and corrosion scrubbed off, owners will want to take preventative measures so it doesn't happen again. Either dielectric grease or petroleum jelly can be applied to battery terminals, and both can be found at most auto supplies stores. Anti-corrosion washers can also help.

Those who are not as car-savvy can always ask their local auto repairman, or an associate of an auto supplies shop for advice on how to best maintain their vehicle.

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