To keep your car running well, you'll need to stay on top of regular maintenance. This includes everything from changing the fluids to checking filters and hoses. If you're not very handy in the garage, there are a few simple things you can do on your own before you bring the car to a mechanic and in between tuneups. Other servicing needs may better be handled by a professional unless you're comfortable working on your own vehicle.

Easy at-home maintenance

You should keep an eye on fluids, watching for low levels and dirty liquid. If you notice the oil, transmission fluid or any other fluids are getting low, you can add more. Just be sure to check back in a few days to ensure the level hasn't dropped drastically, as this may indicate a leak in the system. The windshield washer fluid can be topped off regularly so you will always be able to clear off a dirty windshield.

It's also important to replace wiper blades at least once a year. Inspect them for signs of damage and wear. If you notice any, replace them. You may be able to just switch out the rubber blade, but if the joints are problematic, you'll need to replace the entire mechanism. This is a simple process that takes only a few minutes to complete.

Keep an eye on the health of certain parts

Many different parts are made to be replaced every so often. This includes the brake pads and the filters. You can visually inspect the brake pads without taking the wheel off for most models, but others may require this part to be removed to allow a better view. When you inspect this part, it's a good idea to check the rest of the brake system, from the calipers to the lines, and look for signs of damage and leaks.

You should also regularly inspect the non-metal components under the hood. Rubber seals, hoses and wiring should be checked for signs of damage and wear so they can be replaced or repaired before a problem arises. Every time you change the oil, it is important to replace the oil filter as well. There are other filters in your car that need to be inspected regularly to ensure optimal driving conditions. The fuel filter prevents debris from getting into the combustion chamber of the engine for a smooth, clean burn. If it gets clogged, you could see a drop in fuel efficiency and a loss of performance. The engine and cabin air filters are also important. Filters are typically simple to replace, but be sure to consult the owner's manual for explicit directions for your particular model if you choose to do this yourself.

Vehicle health is an everyday job

While it is important to perform regular maintenance, this is not the only time you ought to pay attention to your car's well-being. Whenever you go for a drive, pay attention to the way the car is driving and make note of any changes, no matter how small. Listen for unexpected sounds like grinding, clicking and whining noises that may indicate the early stages of mechanical issues. Catching a problem early is the best way to prevent a major repair, which will save you loads of money and reduce the risk of breaking down on the highway. Often, major work can bring down the resale value of a vehicle as well, so preventative care is a wise choice whether you're looking to trade in your vehicle or you want to drive it as long as possible.