Extending the life of your car is probably not something that is top of mind in your busy life. If you are like me, you depend upon your car to get you places and just assume it will run when you need it. And of course, when it doesn’t, it’s pretty inconvenient.
However, with the economy the way it is, and all of us trying to make our dollars stretch as far as they can, I thought some tips on keeping your car/truck in top running order, and taking care of it as best as possible so you can keep it lasting as long as possible might be valuable.
Many of these items are common sense and you probably already know them. My suggestion would be to put some of these items on your calendar to remind you about items you need to maintain. Of course, if you bring the car in, we will track all of this for you and send you reminders too. And then just perhaps, the money you might spend on a new car can go towards something fun instead. I’m all for that!
SO HERE ARE THE TIPS:
1.Regular Maintenance: The number one most important thing that you can do to extend the life of your car and potentially save yourself a ton of money is to have your car serviced on a routine basis. All car manufacturers have a schedule of recommended service for every one of their cars. Follow this schedule. And pay close attention to the schedule for fluid flushes as well. As I mentioned above, if you bring it in to American Auto Care, we will send you a reminder when your next scheduled maintenance is due, and what is on the schedule to be maintained.
2.Oil and Oil Filter: Change your oil and oil filter regularly to protect your engine and improve your gas mileage. Dirty oil or the wrong grade can increase engine friction, thereby reducing fuel efficiency. (Consider using synthetic oil which provides better protection and lasts longer than regular oil). And always use the lowest viscosity oil recommended for your make and model.
3.Air Filter: Change the air filter at least yearly. The air filter protects the engine by keeping impurities from entering the engine. A clean air filter also keeps your car running at optimum gas mileage. When your engines air filter becomes clogged it starves the engine for air. The onboard computers adjust for this by increasing the amount of fuel to maintain consistent firing in the cylinders. This can cause up to 10% in decreased fuel efficiency. And eventually even cause problems with your cars catalytic converter which is a large repair expense.
4.Brake Pads: Monitor your brake pad thickness and do not let them damage the metal parts such as brake rotors and calipers. This means when you bring the car into us, have us check your brakes; it’s a free service. That way, by changing the brake pads when appropriate, you will save money in the long run.
5.Fluid Levels: Check the level and color of all fluids at every gas refill. If you don't know how to check your fluids or you don’t know what color your fluid should be then ask your reputable technician to teach you. We here at American Auto Care will be happy to show you how to do this. Your car’s oils and fluids do break down and require replacement in order to properly lubricate. These fluids not only provide lubrication, they need to conduct heat; they need to protect from rust and corrosion; they perform hydraulic functions.
If you wait for the engine to make noise or to burn oil or for the transmission to start slipping, then it is too late. The protective properties of these fluids change over time and their effectiveness diminishes. Checking the fluids and changing them regularly can save you thousands of dollars in repairs to your vehicle and keep it operating safely.
6.Keep Your Car Clean: Wash your car regularly so that dirt and grit will not damage the body or undercarriage of your car. Pollutants in the air, dirt, bugs, tar, salt in the air, mud, sludge, and more all damage your car.
7.Alignment: Make sure that you keep your car aligned. A properly aligned car increases the life of the tires and increases your safety as well due to improve handling. If you feel your car pulling either right or left while you are driving down a straight road, it is a great indicator it is out of alignment.
8.Tire Pressure: Keep your tires properly inflated. This is most important because low tire pressure can reduce the lifespan of your tires and gas mileage by up to 30% or more. Replacing tires is expensive. Properly inflated tires can extend the life of your tires. Having low tire pressure also causes more drag between your tires and the road, thereby making your engine work even harder. Plus the ride is rougher with under-inflated tires. Check your tire pressure when the tires are cold for accurate readings.
American Auto Care recommends you perform a tire pressure check every time you fill your fuel tank. Another option is to have your tires filled with Nitrogen which is a more stable gas. Some of the benefits of Nitrogen in tires are less fluctuation in tire pressure, reduced tire pressure leak under increased temperatures, and longer lasting tire life.
9.Tire Rotation: Rotate your tires at every other oil change (every 6,000 miles). Rotating your tires equalizes tread wear and maximizes the life of your tires.
10.Accelerate Slowly: Start off slowly after you initially start your vehicle. Which means to slowly accelerate until your vehicle is up to operating temperature. Accelerating slowly saves gas and it reduces the stress on your engine since your oil is cold and thicker when cold. And actually, accelerating slowly from a stop all the time will also up your gas mileage. It is always best to not stomp on the accelerator.
As I mentioned, most of this you already knew. We here at American Auto Care are always glad to answer any questions you have about your car and how it is running. We want you to feel comfortable that you understand how to take care of your car, and any repairs that we recommend.
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