Any way you slice it, owning a car is expensive. From filling up your tank to fixing that fender bender, purchasing and maintaining a car is often a household’s largest day-to-day expense. Some costs are unavoidable, but proper maintenance habits go a long way toward keeping your car on the road and out of the shop.

Here are five quick tips that will keep your car operating smoothly year-round:

1. Change your brake pads every 20,000 miles. Brakes wear out so gradually that you often don’t realize there’s an issue until brake function is severely compromised. If you notice screeching or grinding before 20,000 miles, be sure to make a stop at the mechanic.

2. Take care of your tires. Tires are the contact point between you and the road, so it’s important to keep them in good condition. This means regular tire rotations every 6,000 to 8,000 miles and replacing tires once the tread becomes worn and unsafe. When in doubt, use the penny test to determine whether your tires need replacing.

3. Keep your coolant current. Coolant, or antifreeze, keeps your engine from overheating. However, in addition to keeping your engine at the correct temperature, antifreeze also balances the engine’s pH levels and prevents corrosion. Old or tired coolant will not perform either function correctly and can lead to costly repairs.

4. Change your fluids. Because they don’t need to be changed frequently your vehicle’s fluids can become out-of-sight and out-of-mind. But even your transmission fluid, which generally only needs to be replaced every 50,000 to 100,000 miles, should be checked regularly to keep your car in tip-top shape.

5. Keep up with oil changes. Oil plays a vital role in your engine. Lubrication means less friction, which means your engine works more efficiently. Think about it like this: The average annual cost of oil changes is $120. The average cost of replacing an engine is $4,000. Check the owner’s manual to confirm the optimal changing schedule for your car.

No matter where you find yourself on the road, Cenex is there along the way. Use the location finder to find the store nearest you.

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