How to articles Used Cars

Vehicle Maintenance For First Timers: 5 Simple Things to Take Note of

By Daisy Emah-Emah Posted: 10/05/2021

After spending thousands of dollars to purchase your new vehicle – it’s only right to protect your asset by making sure it is in top-notch condition. 


There are many components and systems in a typical vehicle but the powerhouse is the engine. The engine of any vehicle is like the brain or heart of that vehicle and it needs to run smoothly for your car to keep running also. It is critical to have your engine function efficiently – both for safety and a comfortable ride. 


sports car


Once you turn on your engine, it should start immediately without any delays – and should be continuous and smooth without any jerks. If your car doesn’t run smoothly, emits black smoke or liquid emission – they may be a problem with your transmission or engine. 


It is a plus to listen to your vehicle for any grinding, knocking or any noise from the car. If the vehicle’s performance has dropped, it needs to be looked at as soon as possible. Especially for first-time drivers, these can seem a lot to handle – but as you stay in tune with your car, you will get a hang of it. 


Some drivers dismiss fault codes and warning lights (Check Engine) when they pop up their dashboard, without investigating the issues – and sometimes lead to heavy repairs and expenses. Several things can trigger the Check Engine warning light but it should be attended to as soon as it pops up. 


This is the first indication that there is a problem with your engine and you need to make a trip to the mechanic. Simple checks and paying adequate attention to some fluids and components can be all that separates you from thousands of dollars in repairs. 


As a first-timer, what are the simple things you can be on the lookout for to avoid costly damage on your newly purchased vehicle?



  1. Oil Change

You don’t need to be an expert at fixing cars to know how to check and refill your oil if it is not gauged. Fluids lubricate different components of your engine and help with smooth running and minimal wear and tear. If your engine oil is low you risk blowing your entire engine – and expensive repairs. 


If your engine oil is running low, a fault code should pop up on your dashboard (Change Oil). this is the first indicator that you need an oil change. 


For first-time drivers, you can check your engine oil using the dipstick – check if it is at the “full” mark or close to the “empty” marker. The oil should neither be above the full mark nor close to the empty marker. 


The oil should not be dark brown or opaque and should not have any content of water or dirt in it. If your oil needs to be refilled regularly, your gasket is probably faulty and should be replaced immediately. Clean out your oil filters and have them replaced if they are faulty, as they filter dirt, or junk from the oil and stops regulation back into the engine. 


Check for oil pressure as well. If the oil warning light stays longer than 2 seconds, this is an indicator that the oil filter has issues or the oil level is low. Turn off your engine and have this addressed before driving your car. 

Car Repairs


  1. Watch out for Your Belts

The belt is one of the most important components in your vehicle. It is essential in connection that helps the engine keep everything together and allows it to run properly. The belt ensures that the valves of your engine open and close without delays. Some vehicles are built with just one belt while some have more than one belt


If the belt breaks while the engine is running it could disable the engine and damage severe engine components and lead to expensive repairs. 


Have your belts checked regularly for brittles, cracks, or wears. This happens over time and should be replaced if there is any sound coming from it -this is the first sign your belt needs to be checked. It should also be replaced if it is soaked in oil. 


Your belt should be replaced at intervals required by the manufacturer. Check your manufacturer’s manual or website to know your best replacement schedule. 


  1. Check Your Coolant

During combustion, a lot of energy is lost in form of heat which is bad for your engine. The job of the coolant is to regulate the engine’s temperature by reducing the heat generated. Ensure that your car always has sufficient coolant in the radiator. Ensure also that the radiator is in good condition and make sure the fan is working properly. 


Check the radiator hose for cracks and tears and have it replaced if any. If your engine keeps overheating after filling it with coolant, inspect your car for leaks to avoid damage. Examine for debris in coolant and take note of the color – should be colorless or rust-colored.


You can keep an eye on the temperature of your engine using the engine temp gauge. The temperature gauge should be below the midpoint between “Hot” and “Cold” – if it moves to “Hot” and keeps rising, turns off your engine immediately for a few minutes. 


Do not try to replace coolant while the engine is hot, to avoid burn by being splashed hot coolant or damage your engine block by adding cold coolant. 



  1. Replace Your Air Filters

Air filters prevent debris from blocking your engine and gives your engine room to breathe. A clogged airflow can cause the fuel to burn out completely, increasing emissions and reduce mileage. 


The restriction of airflow to the engine causes it to lose power and become more sluggish in performance. An old or dirty air filter can tear and also lets debris and dirt into the engine. 


Check your air filter regularly and have it cleaned or replaced to avoid a clogged engine. Make sure it is clean at all times and also make sure to examine its contact on spark plugs. Use your manufacturer’s manual for the recommended time intervals to have your air filter replaced. 


Car Repair Workshop


  1. Engine Maintenance 

It is important to have your engine serviced regularly as recommended by the manufacturer. Clean your engine of debris, dust, and grime. Check under your hood and use a vacuum to blow dirt, leaves, and insects off. Clean out the grease from your engine – grease covers your engine and makes it difficult for it to cool down. Use a degreaser to clean the engine exterior.  


If you feel like your engine is losing power or feels sluggish, you can have it tuned up. Tunning up your engine may require changing your spark plugs, replacing your air filter, or having your engine throttle cleaned out. Also have your valves, fuel filter, ignition system replaced during servicing. Refer to your manufacturer’s manual for the tune-up schedule. 


Avoid revving your engine too hard to get better mileage and engine running longer in top condition. Avoid over acceleration, which can lead to faster wear and tear of your engine and shortened lifespan. 


Learn to take note of your car for odd noises, smells, or smoke emitting from your engine. Have your mechanic address the issue as soon as possible.


Have your vehicle maintenance and servicing of your engine done by a professional mechanic. 


Further Reading

  1. 4 Things You Should Know AFTER Buying a Used Car
  2. 4 Easy Ways to Potentially Increase a Car’s Valued Idea?
  3. Used Cars: Easy, Quick, and Helpful Maintenance Hacks
  4. Tire Maintenance: 4 Tips to Taking care of Your Used Car Tires



To Put it Briefly…

Proper vehicle maintenance and servicing save you thousands of dollars on the costly engine and vehicle repairs. If you purchased a used vehicle, it is important to have your engine serviced properly before hitting the road. 


Replace the air filter, spark plugs, fuel filters, brake pads, and other components that need to be replaced. Replace your car fluids and service all the components that need to be serviced. 


To save on your next purchase, register for free for our wholesale used car auctions – no license required. We have an inventory of over 150k vehicles for you to choose from. Our auction specialists are always available to assist you with the entire process.


To get started, sign up here!