1) Get in the habit of checking your oil. Look for the proper level and cleanliness. You should check your oil at least once every 1000 miles. It can also tip you off to oil consumption issues. You may also catch a problem before it gets to be a big one like seeing antifreeze or moisture on the dipstick. These things cause the oil to look milky. Last but not least look for any shiny metallic particles on the dipstick. Once again catching something before it turns into something big can save you money.
2) Check tire pressure and tire condition monthly. Experts say this can add up to 4 % fuel savings. You can look for uneven wear that may point out alignment problems. Tires can also dry rot and tread can separate. Dry rot will cause deep cracks in between the tread and on the side wall. Dry rotted tires if bad enough can be unsafe on the highway. Tires have a wear bar that if you look close at the tire between the tread pattern you will notice a horizontal bar about every 12 inches or less around the tire. When the tread is a 1/16 on an inch within the bar the tires are no longer good and traction and safety are compromised.
3) Make sure your spare tire’s air pressure is good and make sure your tools like lug wrench and jack are present. It’s probably not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with how to use it. The worst place to learn is roadside.
4) Don’t let your fuel tank get too low. Your electric fuel pump is cooled and lubricated by the fuel in your tank. The fuel heats up as you drive on most cars because of the return line. The engines heat makes the returned fuel warm and the less fuel in the tank the warmer the fuel pump will be. It will shorten the life of the pump! We also see a lot of vehicles towed right from the gas station with a bad pump. If you’re really low on fuel and the pump is hot, adding the cool fuel from the ground can stress the plastic fuel pump impeller. Sometimes you can’t help this but if you can, get gas close by your home or work. You can offset this by trying to refuel around a half tank.
5) Once a year or more depending on the severity of the winter go through a car wash that offers underbody wash. Road dirt and salts can accelerate underbody rust. Brake lines suffer and so does everything else. We have seen some cars look great on the top and ready for a scrap yard on the bottom. Doing the underbody wash can really help!
6) Turn on your lights and walk around your vehicle every once in a while. Check headlights, brakes lights, turn signals and license plate lights, which if not working can be a reason for a traffic stop by law enforcement.
7) You are the pilot of your car and probably the best one to notice a difference with anything. If you pay attention you can pick up on things that may get worse. Observe misfires or engine roughness, noises like squeaks and grinding sounds. Sometimes ignored vehicle repairs can add up and become very costly. If you keep up on your car repairs it may cost you a little now as opposed to a total loss later. It’s hard to find a good used car and if you keep up on yours you will know exactly what you have instead of buying some else’s headache.
8) Don’t ignore warning lights. Unless you have a car checked out and are told its OK don’t ignore them. Brake lights and temperature lights to name a few. A lot of people wonder about the check engine light or service engine soon light. It’s job is to warn you of an emission related failure or computer control malfunction. Some are minor some not so minor but just about all the reasons effect fuel economy! You will see some people drive around with a light on and say it’s this or that. The questions comes though as to how will you know when something more serious shows up if the lights always on? On those lines when on a trip or out of town don’t really worry too much about the light unless it’s flashing. Flashing lights mean a misfire is present and bad enough that catalytic converter damage is very possible. Converters are expensive! If it’s not flashing have it checked out by a shop when convenient for you.
9) When checking your oil get use to looking under your hood. Look maybe at hoses and belts for bulges or cracks. Look at the battery for signs of corrosion it will look like a white or blue growth on the cables. Look for any signs of leaks or smells of fuel vapors. Don’t be afraid of looking you may save yourself a tow bill one day. If you’re not comfortable stop by and ask us to show you what to look for or how to check anything. IT’S FREE and it’s all part of our service to you.
10) When you pull out of your driveway or parking spot get use to looking at the ground. Make a mental note of any fluids leaking. Once again sometimes fixing a small problem before it gets bigger can save money. Your car is one of your most expensive necessities
and keeping the fluids full will make it last longer and be more reliable.
11) Be a Gauge looker. Get use to what normal is on your gauges. Temperature, oil pressure, volts. If you know what’s normal you can pick out a slowly occurring problem. If you see a temperature gauge that’s higher than normal it can tip you off to a running hotter than normal problem. Running hotter will affect an engines and transmissions life expectancy and will effect emissions.
The above mentioned are some good tips to help your car last longer and be more reliable. Once again we encourage you to stop by if you don’t feel comfortable doing any of these things and let us show you how easy it is. It’s part of our personal service to you and we look forward to seeing you.