When you’re a REALTOR, your car is a critical business tool. If it’s not working, neither are you. The good news is, you don’t have to be an automotive expert to keep your car in good shape for the many, many miles you’ll put on it.
Actually read your owner’s manual. Follow your vehicle’s service schedule. Don’t rely on your dealer or your mechanic to tell you when service is due. The manufacturer of the car knows what’s best for it. Newer cars may have longer service intervals, up to 20,000 miles in some cases. When the time comes for service, make sure all of the items detailed in the manual are addressed and that all of the proper types of fluids and replacement parts are used. Don’t skimp on cheap parts. Use reliable brands. Keep in mind that the service schedule is not simply an oil change. It also involves maintenance of the cooling system, drive train and other systems. Following the schedule also ensures you the get the most out of the manufacturer's warranties.
One caveat: the nature of doing a lot of showings often means lots of short trips and city driving. Check your owner’s manual to see if you fit the description for going on what is known as an extreme-use maintenance schedule. If you’re doing a lot of short city trips in our very hot climate, you might need to service your car more often, maybe as much as twice as often as the regular maintenance schedule.
Check your oil level regularly. Every car will use up some oil between changes. Certain models will use more than others. Try to check your oil level about once a month or so to make sure you maintain proper levels and top off as needed. Your owner’s manual will tell you what type of oil is needed. Here’s how to check the level: (1) turn off the engine and wait about 5 minutes. (2) Under your car’s hood, locate the dipstick. It typically has a picture of an oilcan on it. (3) Pull the dipstick out and wipe it off with a paper towel. (4) Push the dipstick back in again, all the way and pull it back out. The dipstick will have two marks at the bottom, usually either lines or holes. If the oil line is between the two marks or holes, then the level is good. Replace the dipstick and you’re on your way. If it’s below the bottom mark, you need to add a quart of oil. Never add more than a quart at once time. You’ll risk adding too much oil and that’s no good for your engine.
Check tire pressure and rotate regularly. Replacing tires can get expensive, and under inflated or unevenly worn tires will need replacing more often than those that have been properly maintained. Check your tire pressure every time you tank up just to be sure. You can find the proper psi either in your owner’s manual or on the door jamp inside the driver’s side door. Rotate your tires every 7,500 miles. If you can’t remember the mileage when you rotated them last, call the shop and ask. They usually keep a record. Then calculate how much time and miles have passed and estimate when you’ll need to rotate them again. Set a reminder in your calendar.
These are the most basic things you can do to keep your car (and your business) running at peak performance. We’ll cover more car care tips in upcoming blogs. In the meantime, stay safe out there!