Q: What are the most important things to do to maintain a new car?

A: It’s often said that a car is the second most expensive thing you will ever own, apart from your house, so it makes plenty of sense to make sure you take care of it. This is especially true if and when it becomes time to sell the car. At this point, its condition and history will largely determine the selling price. Here are a couple of suggestions on how to get the most out of your car – with reliability while you own it and good resale value when you sell it.

Dealer service history

Every car comes with a service book that details when or at what mileage your car is due for a service. Some higher-end cars have automatic countdowns on the instrument panel to make it even clearer. Many car brands these days have free service plans built into the sale price, which certainly makes dealer servicing very attractive.

A full and authentic service history tells the next owner that you have taken care of the car properly. It also ensures that not only will the car remain as reliable as possible, but it will also be fixed for free in the event of a car recall for a specific problem. Once you move out of the dealer’s network, the auto company can lose track of you and may not be able to alert you to recalls.

Use correct fuel

Cars can use different grades of fuel, so read the manual and find out which grade your car takes. You might save money by buying lower-grade fuel, but it can mean lower engine performance and possible damage to the engine. Fuel with an ethanol mix might also not be compatible with your car, as it can degrade seals in the car’s fuel and engine systems.

Wheel alignment

You car’s wheels are designed to be aligned in an exact direction when on the road, and even a soft bump on a curb can cause the settings to get out of spec. Getting a regular wheel alignment means that your tires will last longer, you will use less fuel, and your car will drive much better.

Paint care

Car paint these days is pretty tough – it consists of several layers of paint, topped off by a clearcoat that protects the paint and gives the car its shine. It’s the clearcoat that you have to care for, so keeping your car as clean as possible is important.

When you clean your car, use a reputable brand of car care products. Use them following the instructions exactly, and remember the secret to taking care of paint is to use the gentlest means possible to apply each product (no hard brushes, for example). Follow these simple measures and your car will thank you for it. Of course, you can always bring it in to DCH Audi Oxnard for a thorough cleaning as well.