The best way to get the most out of your vehicle — and avoid costly repairs — is to follow the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance program.

The best way to get the most out of your vehicle — and avoid costly repairs — is to follow the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance program.

“Proper maintenance is not just getting an oil change every 3,000 miles,” says Alec Gutierrez, manager of vehicle valuation at Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, Calif. “There’s the timing belt, transmission fluid, tire rotations and much more.”

The owner’s manual provides a detailed maintenance schedule, listing the checks and repairs necessary at specific mileage milestones. If you don’t have the manual, you can request one from the manufacturer or, in some cases, find a copy on the Internet. Mechanics should have access to the maintenance schedule, too.

Gutierrez also offers the following tips to increase your vehicle’s longevity:

• Avoid aggressive driving, riding the brakes and hard stopping, which can result in excessive wear and tear.
• Park in the shade or inside a garage whenever possible. This will help protect the vehicle’s paint and interior.

• Regular washing and waxing will protect against the deteriorating effects of age, salt and road tar.

• Give your car time — a minute or so — to warm up before driving. Check the temperature gauge to see if the vehicle has reached a “warm” operating temperature. “You never want to overwork the car from a cold start,” Gutierrez says.

• Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your vehicle’s break-in period. “Most manufacturers suggest keeping the RPMs (revolutions per minute) below a certain threshold for the first 1,000 miles of driving. It may be somewhere in the 3,000 to 4,000 range depending on the vehicle,” he says. “Following the manufacturer’s suggested break-in schedule helps to ensure the longevity of the engine and vehicle as a whole.”