We have all heard the phrase “Care for your car and it will care for you,” but not many people actually take care of their car or even know what to do. If you drive, there’s probably little you hate more than getting your car repaired. It’s usually an expensive, time-consuming hassle no one looks forward to. Even so, it doesn’t have to be so bad. Whether it’s just dealing with mechanics who try to up-sell you on unnecessary work, the inevitable toll on your wallet, or being out of your expensive and often only means of getting around while you wait for the work and the bill, car repairs can be a hassle some of us avoid more than going to the dentist still you’ll have to go eventually, regardless of your skill level.
Today’s vehicles are much more complex and complicated than the cars of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s, incorporating more computer electronics, chips, and sophisticated engines. However, the same basic car care still applies to all kinds of vehicles, and can extend the life and durability of your car or truck. Regular preventive maintenance is probably the single thing you can do as a car owner to keep your ride happy and save money on repairs in the future. However, not everyone agrees on what preventive maintenance is what you should do, and when you should do it. The best part is basic car care does not require any sophisticated understanding of vehicles or their systems. A few simple steps, some regular checks, and addressing issues promptly can greatly extend the life of your vehicle, making it safer and more dependable for you and your family. It may seem intimidating, but basic care car is often simply a matter of popping open the hood and taking a look at the engine of your vehicle. It is a necessity for any motorist who relies on their vehicle to get them to work. More so to car enthusiasts while enjoying road trips to outdoor adventures, also count on their car to transport them to their destination. Anyone who’s ever worked on cars or spent a ton of money getting their car repaired will tell you: Don’t ignore preventive maintenance.
Beyond regular servicing the following simple checks will help you to enjoy safe, worry-free motoring. First and fore most do your own inspection, car repairs can drain your pocketbook fast, but you can do a wide range of basic maintenance by yourself, regardless of your technical skill. We’re not just talking oil changes; provided you can hold a wrench, you can fix everything ranging from fuel filters to alternators. The biggest hurdle in convincing someone they can handle car maintenance and repairs is the fear factor, but here’s the thing it’s actually pretty hard to permanently screw up a car. You might break something temporarily, or a fix might not work in the long run, but you probably won’t set yourself or your car on fire just because you banged too hard on a valve. Cars are resilient machines and regardless of the year or make there are plenty of repairs even the clumsiest and technically challenged can handle provided they have the confidence to push through. It’s very basic, give your car a once over periodically so you catch anything that looks out of the ordinary.
Make sure all your lights are working. Make a visual check to see that they are all working and clean. Don’t overlook your parking lights, turn signals, emergency flashers, back-up and brake lights. Your full service gas stations can check for proper alignment of your headlights. Also make certain that all of the indicator lights and gauges on your instrument panel and your horn are working correctly.
An overheating engine is a bummer; it can be an expensive engine killer that will leave you on the side of the road, then on to the repair shop for an expensive repair bill. If your car has been running hot, you know the feeling. You’re sitting in traffic, the light turns green, and you pray that traffic breaks enough for you to get some air flowing over the radiator so that engine temperature needle will go down just a little bit. It’s beyond stressful, and there’s no reason you should be forced to endure this. The fact is there are only a few things that commonly cause an engine to overheat regularly knowing this will save you the future shame of having to run to the nearest water source with a jerry can.
Check the air pressure in your tires every month or buy a cheap tire air pressure gauge and keep it in the glove compartment. Improperly inflated tires and this may mean over-inflated or under-inflated don’t handle or stop as well as tires with the correct pressure. They also increase your chance of a blowout. Plus tires with the correct pressure have a longer life and increase your fuel efficiency. Doing so is good for your tires, gets you better mileage, and saves you money in gas if you discover that the pressure is off. Listen for any strange sounds, inside and out. Make sure your tires have enough tread. If anything’s out of the ordinary, don’t ignore it.
Wash your car regularly. Every day our cars are subjected to sun, salt, grease and grime, acid rain, smog, tree sap, dead bugs, and worst of all, the acidic compound of bird poop bombs. These things eat away at paint, and once that’s gone, they will eat at the metal in your car. While failing to wash your car won’t result in immediate damage, over time the elements will corrode your vehicle, along with its potential re-sell value. How often should you wash your car? It depends. Location and climate are the two biggest factors in determining frequency. If you live in an area with a lot of pollution and sea salt in the air, you’ll need to wash it two or three times a week. If you live inland and in an area with little pollution, a once in two week’s car wash will suffice. During the rainy season like we are heading to the predicted Elnino, you may need to wash your car more frequently than you do during the hot weather season due to the mud and dirty water splashes that will accumulate as you drive along muddy and flooded roadways.
Don’t use the inside of your car as a trash can. The inside of your car is not a garbage can, so quit treating it like one. Get in the habit of regularly cleaning out your car so it doesn’t constantly look like a dump. Keeping your car’s interior clean and tidy can reduce stress in your life and make the driving experience more enjoyable. Also, you never know when you’ll have unexpected passengers. By keeping your car clean, you’ll never have to sheepishly say, “Sorry about the mess,” as you wipe away shards of yesterday’s quick breakfast croissant from the passenger seat.
Finally working on one’s own car is a point of pride for many owners. Doing it yourself is both rewarding and a way to prevent someone else from mucking things up. Inevitably for even the most hardcore gear-heads there are certain tasks best left to people “wearing auto-mechanic badges” on their sleeves. I know I mentioned earlier do the inspection/repairs by yourself but some repair /maintenance tasks are best handled by trained professional auto repairers. You can have all the power in the world and all the sophisticated suspension and braking gear ever designed, but if that ability to manage force isn’t delivered to the pavement in a precise manner it’s badly compromised. Proper alignment is one of the keys to having a happy car. And especially for vehicles with four-wheel independent suspensions, doing a decent alignment job at home verges on the impossible. You’ll want to make sure that your mechanic of choice has a well-calibrated rack, but they will do it better and much faster than any amount of driveway fiddling can accomplish.