No one likes spending money at the auto mechanic, but everyone with a car or truck eventually ends up going there at some point or another. At least you can limit your visits to the shop by performing some basic maintenance tasks throughout the year.

Many of these things can be done in your driveway if you have enough knowledge and time. Whether you do your own maintenance work or take your car to the mechanic, you should always keep car maintenance top of mind so your ride runs smoothly and safely year round.

Regularly Check Fluids

Checking your fluids is a relatively simple task that is vitally important to maintaining a healthy vehicle. Some of the most important fluids to regularly check are:

Oil: All cars differ a bit on how often they need their oil changed but for most it is around every 5,000 miles. Healthy oil will be a honey-brown color, while oil needing to be changed will be a blackish color.

• Windshield wiper fluid: You may use it more often during the winter, so you’ll want to check it every few weeks or so. If you are using it less in the summer, you should be able to get away with checking it every month and a half or so.

• Coolant: It’s usually good to check your coolant levels every 30,000 miles. This liquid is especially important because it keeps your car cool and ensures it doesn’t overheat.

Check Filters, Spark Plugs, Battery

Keeping your engine clean will keep it running smoothly, so it’s important to regularly change the oil, air and fuel filters. Other areas to focus on under the hood are the PCV valve, spark plugs and spark plug wires.

Batteries may be the most important accessory to check on a regular basis. Maintenance tasks include keeping the battery clean and secured so it doesn’t vibrate, keeping connections clean and tight at the terminals, and checking the water level (if necessary).

Maintain Brakes And Transmission

Many of today’s cars have disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in back. When brakes need a mechanic’s attention, they give off certain warning signals. While some brake noises are normal, chirps, continuous squeals and grinding sounds almost always mean that it’s time for new brake pads or shoes.

Meanwhile, a regular checkup of the transmission fluid will keep your car shifting smoothly.

Rotate, Balance, Align Tires

Every car is different, but a rule of thumb is to rotate and balance your car’s tires after every other oil change (10,000 miles or so). This helps your tires wear out at a more even rate and will hopefully give them a longer lifespan. You can check your tire alignment less frequently, typically once a year, or if you notice your car veering when you’re driving.