Monthly Archives: November 2016

Maintaining Your Tires Keeps Your Car Healthy

Maintaining Your CarWe often ignore our tires unless they’re flat. But they play a vital role in the overall condition of your car. Maintain them properly, and you’ll save money on repairs and on fuel costs.

Keeping your tires properly inflated ensures that they wear longer and can prevent accidents. Your car likely has a card or sticker attached to the door edge or the inside of the glove box door. The right amount of air your tires need is specified here. In case your car doesn’t have this sticker, you can check your owner’s manual.

Serious accidents can happen if your tires are under-inflated or overloaded. One of my tires blew-out on me and caused an accident. Luckily I was on a little traveled country road and was going slowly. I hate to think of what might have happened if I had been in major traffic.

Buy your own quality tire gauge. You can’t tell if tires are inflated properly just by looking. And the air meters at your service station may not be correct!

Ask your auto supply dealer for a tire gauge calibrated up to 80 PSI. They’ll know what you mean, even if you don’t.
Take a moment at the beginning of each month to check your tire pressure (don’t forget the spare! Uhm, you do have a spare tire, don’t you??) Check them before you get in the car to drive. Write down the actual under-inflation amount for each tire. Take this info with you to the service station.

Now measure the inflation again and record these numbers. (Don’t worry, this only takes a couple minutes.) Now inflate the tires to a level that equals the warm pressure (that you just took) plus the first under-inflation amount. (called the “cold” inflation pressure)

If the above instructions sound intimidating or confusing, take your car to a shop and give them the “cold” pressure numbers. They’ll put the correct amount of air in your tires for a minimum fee – sometimes they’ll not charge you at all.

The leading cause of tire failure is under-inflation. So make a habit to check them once a month.
Overloading your vehicle can lead to tire failure, too. Just because you have a pick-up truck doesn’t mean it can carry an infinite load.

Schedule a tire check into your calendar each month and you’ll save money, save fuel, and perhaps, even save your family from a car accident.

Maintaining Your Car Will Make It Last Longer

Regular maintenance of your vehicle will extend its life perhaps well beyond what you or others may think is its normal lifespan. Today’s cars can easily top the 100,000 mile mark with many cars on the road exceeding 150,000, 200,000, even 250,000 miles. Ask owners of high mileage cars how they got to that point and most will point to their own rigorous and disciplined maintenance schedules as being the chief factor. By carefully and diligently following a maintenance schedule, you can extend your vehicle’s life too. Let’s take a look at several important maintenance steps you must take in order to avoid costly repairs and to help you hold onto your vehicle longer.

Regular oil changes – The 30 minute oil change specialists recommend that you change your oil every 3,000 miles or three months, while some manufacturers state you only need to change your oil once every 7,500 miles or six months. Opt for more frequent changes than lengthy manufacturer recommended intervals, but change your oil [and oil filter] every 3,000 miles if your car is subject to hard driving.

Change your air filter – Your engine will run better and cleaner if you change your air filter at least once per year; more so if you do a lot of “stop and go” driving or put on many more miles per year than average.
Rotate your tires – Evenly wearing tires will help ensure that your car stops properly and stays on the road. Have your brakes and shocks inspected too to avoid potential handling and control issues.

Transmission fluid – Your transmission isn’t guaranteed to run forever. Change your fluid at manufacturer recommended intervals, generally once every 30 or 60 thousand miles. Neglect it and face costly repairs and potentially fatal [to the car] consequences.

Drain the radiator – Periodically draining the radiator and replacing the antifreeze will help flush out rust and dirt particles that can clog up your cooling system. When the coolant’s rust inhibitors get used up then corrosion will show up within the radiator as well as in the engine block

Change the spark plugs – Some manufacturers have installed long life spark plugs meaning that changing spark plugs once every 60 or even 90 thousand miles or more is a possibility. Keep in mind that the longer your spark plugs sit in place, the more difficult it may be to remove them later. Optimally, replacing your spark plugs once every 30 thousand miles is ideal.

Examine your exhaust system – Your muffler, catalytic converter, and remaining exhaust system parts can wear out. A poorly functioning exhaust system saps your engine of needed power.

Wash and wax – Yes, your car may mechanically run well, but if the body falls apart, then what do you have left? Regular washings and a once a year wax job should do the trick.

Other stuff – Replace your battery, fuel filter, PCV valve, belts, and hoses as needed and every other part that wears out. Sensors come and sensors go; usually you will only have to replace your knock or oxygen sensors if and when a problem arises.

Ultimately, refer to your manufacturer’s repair book for guidelines as to when to perform maintenance. The key to extending your vehicle’s life is in doing the maintenance when needed to head off costly repair bills. Otherwise you will be neglecting your car to the point where it “dies” prematurely.

You can extend the life of your vehicle. If you aren’t up to the task, hire a qualified mechanic to service your vehicle regularly.