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Simple car maintenance tips to save you money in the long run

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — It's the perfect time to make sure your vehicle is in perfect running shape. Right now, it’s not too hot or too cold which means service centers aren’t packed with people getting their vehicles worked on.

FOX59 has some simple way to get your car ready for the driving season without spending much money.

"I was driving to Avon from Noblesville, and the truck just gave out on me in Noblesville. I was stranded on the side of the road," said Liz Duvall.

Liz knows what can happen if you don't do the preventative maintenance on your vehicle. Shortly after her truck stopped running on the road, she called her husband. They feared her transmission blew up.

"Thankfully, we got it towed to a Jiffy Lube that was right up the street. The gentlemen took a look at our truck and let me know it was not the transmission thankfully," said Duvall.

It was the engine which can also be expensive.

We will get back to her story and what happened after we talk to the car experts...

"It's a part of a story most motorists experience. They prepare for winter driving, but forget about spring and summer just because the weather is better," says Lonnie Hinkle, Chief Operating Officer of Jiffy Lube of Indiana

There are things that we should be doing to our cars to get them out of winter mode and into the spring and summer mode. And wherever you go to have your car checked, first check to see if they have coupons.

"Honestly, I'd get your battery tested because heat is actually harder on your battery than the cold is. A lot of people think during winter time they need to have their battery checked. That is true, but during the summer, the heat is actually worse on your battery than the cold," said Ryan Foy, Director of training Jiffy Lube of Indiana.

Take it from Foy and his time-tested company truck. It's a  2006, and it's closing in on half a million miles on the odometer. That's about 40,000 driving miles per year.  Foy drives this work truck daily and all over Central Indiana. It gets all of its preventative maintenance. Basically, if you take care of your car, and you do all the maintenance you are supposed to, it'll last a really long time.

Spring car checks are about more than the oil.

"We have a blog of everything you need to do for your car. For example, make sure the belts are in good shape, there are no chunks missing out of them, they are not glazed. With hoses, make sure there are no bubbles in them. Check all your fluid levels to make sure they are up to par. There are other things not just under the hood. Check your wipe blades, check to make sure those are in good shape, you know April showers of course," said Hinkle.

And of course, a simple wash and wax is important after winter, but that's just a first step. You'll also want to get a great underbody wash. The salt that's all over the road gets up inside and underneath the car and salt can rust out your vehicle.

If you're doing your own quick inspection, be sure to check all your exterior lights. Make sure your turn signals, brake lights, fog lights, and headlights are working. Other systems to be checked may not seem vital until they stop working.

"Also making sure your air conditioning is working this time of year. We get a lot of people realizing their air conditioning is not working. They bring it in and have us take a look at it," said Foy.

Another must check for your vehicle is proper tire inflation, which you can't do just by looking at your tires.  Tires can be under-inflated or over-inflated, and it can make a big difference in the quality of your ride and the longevity of your tires.

Being under-inflated can drag on your fuel economy. It can also make your tires wear on the outsides. If a tire is over inflated, they can wear more on the center.  And you also want to make sure there are no bubbles on the sidewalls or any kind of damage from hitting potholes.

Here's one thing we do love: This ending for Liz...

Her engine troubles only required an oil change. She caught it just in time.

"It just really needed that kind of tender loving care you get from regular oil changes and regular maintenance. The car just kind of had a temper tantrum and said, 'Nope, you either take care of me or I won't take care of you,'" said Liz.

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