Extend the Life of Your Car and Avoid Frequent Expensive Breakdowns
As gas prices are rising every other day and car repairs are becoming unaffordable, the most worrisome thing for a car owner is the breakdown of her/his car. And as the old saying goes prevention is better than cure, so, it’s easy extend the life of your car than to be careless about it and make it break every now and then. Believe me, it’s just as easy as checking tires if they are well inflated or ensuring the fluid is at correct level. So, here are some surefire tips for keeping your car in a perfect shape always and protecting it from frequent crashes.
Refer to Car Manual
If you have thrown away your car’s manual in your store room, find it out and refer to the manufacturer’s instructions about how you can maintain your car in top shape. There should be a maintenance schedule as suggested by the manufacturer and it should be kept up to avoid possible costly problems with your drive train, suspension, cooling system and other parts. Following the suggested schedule regularly also helps getting the full advantage of your manufacturer’s warranty.
Avoid Short Rides
Avoid taking your car out every now and then, especially on short rides. Cold starts are bad for your gas mileage, engine and even for environment. Short rides can also considerably cut down the life of your muffler.
Mainly, condensation is created in the exhaust upon starting a cold engine and then, if you don’t run the car for a long distance enough for evaporation of that condensation out of the system, water goes on accumulating in your muffler and when it become excessive, the muffler gets rusted and can get a hole.
You might also be giving your car a cold start to pull it into the garage. Avoid that. If you want to go to a nearby store, prefer walking there to driving. If you have more than one vehicle, use the one which you have used more recently if you have to.
Drive the Car At Least Once in a Week
If you avoid driving a car just to maintain it, that’s not correct. On the contrary, it creates more problems. Cars, that sit still for longer than a week or more at a time, slowly start draining fluids out of system. If you have not driven your car for an extended period, consult a mechanic before you start it.
Checking the levels of your car’s fluids regularly is also recommendable for extending its life. These fluids include antifreeze, power steering fluid, oil, brake fluid and transmission fluid. You can do this every time when you purchase gas. Even if there is no leakage of fluids, a leak can be developed and a dangerously low level of anything can occur.
The color of some of these fluids should also be checked regularly. Some of them are contained in transparent, plastic tanks and some can be checked with dipsticks. Color of antifreeze should be green (in old cars having plain Ethyl-Glycol), pink (for newer cars having “Dex-Cool”) or yellow (or green for cars having been flushed and filled with common antifreeze.) Brown antifreeze must be flushed always as it either has a lot of dirt or rust or both in it.
It is also not recommendable to mix various types of antifreeze. If you are unable to find the color of your car’s antifreeze, purchase a universal brand.
Oil should be typically clear and not black. Black oil indicates that it has remained in the engine for longer than the stipulated time. It should also not be white, as white oil indicates that it has water in it, possibly from an internal leak of antifreeze, or also, though rarely, through a great amount of condensation.
Transmission fluid must look bright red and its smell should not be like burnt. If it smells burnt and its color is brown, it probably requires to be changed.
Changing the Air Filter
Change of air filter is an easy job which you can do at home, without any tools. This should be done roughly every twelve thousand miles. An air filter is easily available at any auto parts store and your car’s manual will guide you about its location in your car. If the filter is dusty and dirty, it can reduce your gas mileage.
Flushing of Fluids
Some fluids in your cars should be flushed every couple of years. These are brake fluid, power steering fluid and cooling system antifreeze. Check the schedule with your manufacturer’s manual. It’s allowed usually in newer cars to change them with longer intervals. Change transmission fluid and filter every 50,000 miles at least; 40,000 or 45,000 is even better.
But if you have crossed 50,000 miles without a change, on several transmissions, it is better not to change it and hope for the best. Usually, putting in new transmission fluid in a trans which has excessive miles on the fluid can actually create problems since it can break down “varnish” and other solids/gums that are built up inside the trans because of over-used fluid.
Check the Thickness of Brake Pads
Keep an eye on the thickness of brake pads and don’t let them wear down to metal. If they are worn down to metal, brake rotors will be definitely damaged and possibly even your calipers will be damaged. These two things – rotors and calipers – are much pricier than rotor pads to replace. You cannot “clean” a brake pad while it is still on the car, as the rubbing of your brake pad and rotor will wipe out any foreign substance almost instantly.
Rotating the Tires
It’s very important to change the tire position because it reduces uneven abrasion on the tread and thereby extends the life of the tires. It’s recommended that you should rotate the tires twice every year or upon every 6,000 miles. Rotation should be diagonal – front left to rear right and front right to rear left. You can change this pattern, however, as per the drive train of the car and kind of tire. For detailed information on rotation, refer to your car’s manual.
Remember that some tires, particularly in sports vehicles, are directional and are designed to spin only in one direction. This is indicated by a large arrow on the sidewall.
There are many more tips about extending the life of a car on AutoWarrantyResources.com which you should read. Plus there is a lot of information on this site. All in all, this is a very useful portal every car owner should keep in touch with.