Give Your Vehicle Some TLC this Holiday Season

Nothing says “I care about you" more than taking care of someone's vehicle, particularly when said TLC is unexpected. Think about the outsized role a vehicle plays in most people's daily lives. Its reliability can make or break personal and professional schedules and influence the feelings we get from driving it – good or bad.

With the holiday season fast approaching, show your significant other (or even yourself) just how much you care. Put your DIY skills to good use by performing some basic maintenance and detailing tasks, and surprise someone with a safer, more reliable, more enjoyable vehicle to drive.

Couple in car | Getty

CHECK THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT

Whether it appears intermittently or has been on for a while now, the dashboard's “check engine" light often creates fear and worry for many a motorist. Reassure that special driver in your life that all is well, or soon will be, by investigating why the light is on.

Purchase a hand-held OBDII scan-code reader, plug it into the port inside the vehicle and watch as modern technology generates a code (or codes) that tell you what is wrong. Compare the results to an industry database, identify the problem and fix it. Better yet, take the vehicle to your local Advance Auto Parts store where they'll diagnose the light for you for free. Either way, you'll become the new light of someone's life, instead of the check engine light.

TIRE PRESSURE

It's tough to find another maintenance item that affects so many different aspects of a vehicle the way tire pressure does. Vehicle ride, handling, fuel mileage, traction and even stopping distances are all impacted negatively by under-inflated tires. A slow leak from a small puncture or even colder weather can cause a tire to lose pressure.

Keep a tire pressure gauge in the glove box and check each tire's pressure every few weeks. The proper inflation pressure isn't the maximum pressure listed on the tire sidewall either, but rather the pressures listed on a sticker that's usually near the gas cap, inside the driver's door or listed in the owner's manual. A smoother ride, longer tire life and improved fuel mileage will be the most noticeable benefits, in addition to your significant other's undying gratitude because no one wants to deal with a flat.

TEST THE BATTERY

Turning the ignition key and hearing only silence, a clicking sound or the engine struggling to turn over are among the worst ways to discover a vehicle's battery needs to be replaced. Fortunately, there's a better way to ensure the spark never goes out in your engine — or relationship!

Battery life ranges from three to five years on average. Purchase or borrow a vehicle battery tester and test the battery and charging system or have the service performed for free at any Advance Auto Parts location. The results will provide a window into the battery's strength and health and whether it needs to be replaced.

Remember, whenever the battery is replaced, be sure to note the date in either the vehicle's maintenance records or on the battery itself.

FOLLOW MANUFACTURER'S SERVICE GUIDELINES

While you're expected to be many things, maybe an automotive engineer or master mechanic isn't one of them. That's why vehicle manufacturers developed their recommended vehicle maintenance guidelines so you don't have to think about every vehicle system and when and how it needs to be maintained.

Spark plugs, transmission fluid, drive and accessory belts, fuel filter and brake fluid change intervals? They're all listed conveniently in the vehicle's owner manual, maintenance booklet and/or online. Follow the recommended maintenance intervals, and you'll be rewarded with a more reliable, better-performing vehicle that retains its value.

Couple washing a car | Getty

CLEAN IT

Whether it's a house, apartment, workspace or vehicle, few people enjoy spending time in a dirty, disorganized space, and some of us and/or our partners spend A LOT of time in vehicles. Make the daily commute, shuttling kids back and forth to school and activities, or an upcoming road trip more pleasurable by detailing the vehicle inside and out.

Washing, clay barring, and waxing the exterior, cleaning brake dust off the wheels, vacuuming the interior, and cleaning the windows and upholstery will make a huge difference in the vehicle's appearance, and possibly someone's opinion on whether or not you really are “the one."

Want to go that little bit further? A trunk organizer is a thoughtful gift that can seal the deal by preventing future clutter.

Actions speak louder than words. Surprise someone with some do-it-yourself maintenance and TLC that improves their vehicle's maintenance, reliability and appearance. 

Last updated November 29, 2022

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