Some people seem lucky with their vehicles – never appear to have car troubles. Other people seem like the unluckiest people with their cars that you’d think they bought a lemon. Owning a sound and reliable car doesn’t happen by chance. It takes paying attention to the warning signs the car gives you that it’s not operating properly. Ignore the signs and you’ll risk harming the car and reducing the longevity of it. And, it’ll most likely cost you more in the long run.
Easy car-care tips
What may be surprising is that the following list is really easy to stay on top of.
Ignoring the check engine light: this system comes on only after the vehicle has performed self-checks during start-up. When conditions are present for a certain amount of start-ups, the light comes on telling you “get me to a service shop”. If the light is flashing that means stop driving the car or something worse could happen. The longer you ignore this light, the greater damage you may do to the car and your wallet.
Unaware of maintenance schedules: All car manufacturers outline maintenance schedules for the optimum performance of each specific vehicle model. These schedules can be found in your owner’s manual. It’s critical that your car or truck be inspected periodically so that worn parts can be identified and replaced before causing greater damage and expense.
Delaying or missing regular oil and filter changes: Your car or truck needs a certain volume of oil to be properly lubricated and operate. The filter – fairly self-explanatory – traps debris that may be circulating in the oil system. The fluid and filter need to be changed on a regular basis in order to keep the engine components moving and under proper pressure. Oil will break down over time and provide less protection to the multiple moving parts. Less protection leads to greater risk of damage.
Harsh driving: Jackrabbit starts, NASCAR turns and Dukes of Hazard stops can be hard on your car and your fuel economy. While you can’t control the conditions you drive in, you can control how you drive. Give your vehicle the distance it needs to slow down and safely stop. Hard shortstops will prematurely wear our brake rotors and pads. Observe the speed limit for optimum fuel economy. If you’re hauling items in your SUV or truck, check the load rating on the vehicle and make sure you’re not overloading it.
Overlooking your tires: We wrote in a previous blog post, your tires are a big financial investment, so it’s fiscally smart to take care of them. Lack of tire rotation and driving on under-inflated tires are the two most common ways we see tires prematurely wear out.
Dirty car syndrome: Are you the type to wash your car only occasionally during the winter? Understand that salt and road grime is eating away at your body panels and frame. Not to mention it’s contributing to bolts and nuts seizing. Wash your car as soon as you can after traveling on heavily salted/sanded roads. If you travel frequently on dirt roads, same goes for you. Washing will keep the wheel bearings, axles and other critical suspension/steering parts clean, as well as the body and frame. It’s hard to inspect a dirty vehicle.
You can prolong the life and value of your car by following these few tips. According to Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “Routine maintenance can go a long way toward saving money, avoiding headaches and protecting your vehicle investment.”