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Whether commuting to work, dropping the kids off at soccer practice, running errands, going for a joy ride or taking a big road trip, many people rely heavily on their cars for safe transportation. But in order to keep their vehicles running well and protected, it’s important for drivers to take proper care of their cars.

To help ensure you’re not neglecting your ride, Erie Insurance offers these eight major don’ts of car care to remember:

1. Don’t put off recommended maintenance. There’s a reason the car manufacturer gives you that little book when you buy a car. It contains important maintenance guidelines for the age and mileage of your vehicle. By following what it says, you can keep your car running smoothly and safely—and save on having to pay for big repairs later.

2. Don’t ignore warning lights. Most cars come with a check-engine light and other warning lights. If any of them goes off, take your car to a qualified mechanic ASAP.

3. Don’t fail to change the air filter. A fresh air filter keeps your engine running smoothly and improves your car’s fuel efficiency. Most manufacturers suggest you replace your filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. (Err on the lower side if you drive in dusty conditions or in stop-and-go circumstances.)

4. Don’t overlook your tires. Regularly check your tires’ air pressure, and keep them properly inflated. Not having the right tire pressure makes for unsafe driving and reduces fuel efficiency. Most vehicles list tire pressure requirements on the driver’s side door post so you know the correct amount of air necessary.

5. Don’t have an unqualified person work on your car. Take the time to find a credible car mechanic that has the skills to fix your vehicle properly. Ask friends and families to recommend a repair shop, and check the Better Business Bureau and online reviews for possible complaints against the company. Verify a mechanic is certified and regularly handles your car’s make and model.

6. Don’t leave keys in the ignition of an unattended car. This is one of the easiest ways to tempt car thieves.

7. Don’t run your gas tank down to empty. Doing so cuts the life of the fuel pump—and puts you at risk of running out of gas before you get to a station.

8. Don’t rarely wash your car. A spotless windshield and clean headlights help ensure you can safely see while driving. Also, a thorough wash helps preserve the exterior of your car, which can ultimately help the vehicle retain its resale value. A good wash is especially important in snow-prone regions during winter, when road salt can do a number on cars.

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