We get a lot of questions in the shop about what to do after buying a car, from how to register a car with the DMV to what kind of gas is best for the engine.
Buying a new (or new to you) car can involve some costly maintenance mistakes if you don't do your homework. In this article, we’ll discuss the top maintenance tips every new car owner should know:
1) You should read your owner's manual.
No one expects you to read the entire thing, but it’s helpful to have a few pages flagged. You should take note of the recommendations for maintenance, fuel type, as well as mileage milestones for routine service such as tire rotations and fluid changes. It’s not super fun, but it will save you a ton a Google searches.
2) Mark your calendar for annual DMV paperwork.
In addition to the title, registration, and inspection paperwork you file with your DMV when you first buy a car, you'll have a few annual DMV items on your to do list. First, you'll need to get annual inspection to make sure your is still safe to drive on the road. Second, you'll need to renew your vehicle registration with the state every 1 or 2 years depending on the plate type. Learn more about annual inspections
and registration renewals
on the DMV website.
You'll also need to be mindful of annual excise tax fees from your local town or municipality, which should be mailed to your garage address every spring.
3) Never drive on empty— it can damage your engine
We know gas is expensive but, if you're constantly low or running on fumes, especially during the hot summer months, the pump's motor can overheat. Replacing a fried fuel pump costs a whole lot more than a tank of gas— so it’s best to fill up.
Many new drivers also experience the pull toward premium, simply because it sounds like the better alternative. While some high-performance vehicles recommend premium, using premium gasoline in an engine that recommends regular doesn’t provide any significant boost in acceleration or fuel economy. Most people are better off saving a few dollars and sticking to using regular and saving a few dollars in the process.
4) Recalls need to be taken seriously.
When you’re shopping for a new car, you’re probably more concerned with affordability, performance vs fuel economy, aesthetic- but failing to properly research the model's history can be a huge mistake. It’s important to research recalls and defects, to avoid bigger problems down the line. Once you’ve made a purchase, be on the lookout for news and recall announcements about your vehicle and take them seriously if they arise.
If you're wondering what to do afer buying a car, we can help! At V&F, our certified mechanics use the latest diagnostic equipment, and high-quality CARQUEST auto parts, to make sure we get the job done right. Plus, our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3-year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.
This article was originally published in 2019 and has been updated.