The 8 Dad-Est Car Maintenance Tips
Moms worry about their kids all the time, everywhere they go. Dads do, too, but they especially worry about them on the road. That’s why your dad is always reminding you to check your tire pressure (okay, Dad) and check your oil (OKAY, Dad).
Best Dad Car Maintenance Tips
In case you weren’t listening, here’s the ultimate Dad list of car maintenance tips.
1. You should always check your oil yourself.
Check the oil? Who does that anymore? In Dad’s day, you were supposed to check the oil every time you filled up. Now most new cars don’t need an oil change until the 7,500- or 10,000-mile mark. Still, this is one of those car maintenance tips that still applies today. Check your oil about once a month, or before any long road trip, because an oil leak can cause big problems.
2. Duct tape can fix anything.
“Always carry a roll of duct tape in the car,” your dad likes to say. “You never know when you’ll need it.” He’s mostly right. Duct tape can patch holes, hold on a sagging bumper, cover holes in the seat and even replace body panels, as some creative car owners have demonstrated. (Of course, removing the duct-tape residue is a whole other job.) The only thing duct tape definitely can’t do? Fix a dragging muffler. (It may melt.)
3. Mr. Lincoln knows if you need new tires.
This is the oldest Dad trick in the book of car maintenance tips: Stick a penny into your tire tread with Lincoln’s head upside-down. If you can see all of his head, then your tires are worn out. However, some experts say it’s smarter to use a quarter, which gives you a more conservative estimate of tread depth. If you can see Washington’s wig, it’s time to replace your tires. Don’t check just one groove on one tire, because they wear unevenly; check several places on each.
4. Carry flares, and know how to use them.
Way too many people are struck by other cars on the highway after they pull over to make a repair, change a tire or just wait for assistance. Don’t let this happen to you! Listen to Dad: always carry flares in the trunk. Practice lighting one in your driveway so you get the hang of it. Read the directions, and hold it well away from your body as you strike the igniter. When carrying a flare, point the burning end down so it doesn’t drip on you. Don’t drop it on the ground or you risk breaking it. As an alternative, you can buy LED flares that charge in the car. Just keep them charged so they’re ready in an emergency.
5. Don’t let the gas tank get down to E.
Dad always said you should fill up your tank before the low-fuel light comes on, because then the fuel pump will suck up all the sludge and dirt in the bottom of your tank. This car-maintenance tip is a little outdated, however. According to Bankrate, “modern fuel pumps have a protective screen or porous sock-like cover that catches any contaminants before they enter the fuel system. And those small bits that might get through would normally be caught by a second filter closer to the engine.”
Still, it’s smart to keep your tank at least halfway full. Because if you run out of gas, you know who’s going to have to come get you? Dad.
6. Check your tire air pressure before a long trip.
Don’t rely on your eyes — or even the dash warning light — to tell you if your tires need a little air. You have to get out the ol’ gauge and check them all. Underinflated tires reduce your gas mileage and don’t grip the road as well. If you find the cheap, old-fashioned silver gauge hard to use (you know, the kind Dad puts in your stocking every year) then spring for a $10 digital gauge.
7. Wait — now check the air pressure in your spare.
While you have the tire gauge in hand, go the extra mile and check the pressure in the spare. This can be a pain in the rear if your spare is attached to the underside of the car, but you’ll be glad you did.
8. Change your own air filter every 12,000 miles.
Some old-school dads will insist you can change your own oil or flush your own radiator. That’s a little too much (and a little too messy) for us, but Dad is 100 percent right when he tells you to replace your air filter. It’s a 10-minute, $10 job. Just look under the hood for the housing, unscrew or unclip it, wipe down the case and drop the new filter in. Boom. Don’t you feel…. like a Dad?