Emily C. has been the department manager in the Auto Center at Store 2202 in Windham, Maine, since May, but she’s been around cars her whole life.
“Both my father and my husband are mechanics,” says Emily, who owns and maintains a 2000 Jeep Cherokee.
It only takes two maintenance checks at 20 minutes, twice a month, to cut automotive repair costs in the long run, explains Emily. In fact, these two checks can often be handled in the comfort of your own driveway:
1. Monitor Tire Wear and Pressure
“Tire wear is the most common issue I see,” Emily says. “Either they’re out of alignment or in need of rotation.”
Rotating at the right frequency helps you get the maximum life and performance out of each set of tires you purchase. If the pressure is off in even just one of your tires, it can cause uneven wear and performance or safety issues.
How often should you rotate your tires? Generally, manufacturers recommend rotating your tires on the same schedule as changing your oil, but you should refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for specific guidelines. The rotation frequency can also change depending on the drive wheels of your vehicle. For example, the rear tires on a rear-wheel drive vehicle do more work because they’re actually adding power to the road. Rotating the tires in intervals between the front and rear wheels is suggested, and AWD (all-wheel-drive) vehicles should have all four rotated simultaneously.
While not everyone is able to rotate their tires on their own, Walmart offers affordable rotation services for the life of the tires. Rotation services cost $9 per tire for the life of any tire. Or you can pay $2.50 per tire for a one-time rotation service ($10 to rotate four tires).
“Ensuring you have the right-sized tires when you get them replaced also helps,” Emily adds.
2. Check the Oil
Keeping fresh, clean oil in your vehicle helps prevent unnecessary engine wear. If neglected, not changing the oil can even lead to total engine failure in a worst-case scenario.
Check your owner’s manual for general guidelines on how often to change the oil, but to be safe, take a few minutes each month to see how it’s looking. Fresh oil should be clear in appearance—if your dipstick brings up oil that looks dirty or smells like gasoline, it likely needs to be changed.
Factors that can affect how frequently you should change the oil include weather, driving conditions, and travel distances. If your vehicle isn’t driven every week, time between changes can play as much of a role as the number of miles.
Remember: Staying in tune with your vehicle can save you money—and keeps you safe—down the road!