With all the recent advances and refinements in automotive construction, it’s simply too easy to get lulled into a state of complacency when it comes to your car’s maintenance. However, failing to preserve and protect your vehicle’s appearance, and wilfully ignoring routine repairs can result in a hefty bite out of your pocketbook. The following eight tips should help you avoid some of the more common problems areas of auto maintenance.
Wash and Wax the Right Way
Always do a pre-rinse scrub down with plain water before using soapy (non-detergent!) cleaning mixture to rid your car’s finish of road grit and dust. If you skip this first step, it’s likely all your efforts will be in vain, as the soap will bind with the dirt and leave a dull, dingy finish. Also, keep in mind that using a sponge is a big no-no because grit can get trapped inside and act like a scratchy sandpaper pad. Once the car’s exterior is thoroughly cleaned and dry, apply a liberal amount of liquid wax over the entire body, and allow ample time for it to dry.
The next step is to use a power polisher on low speed to remove surface scratches and buff to a fine finish. This is crucial to achieving the slick, water beading effect that causes road grit and dust to simply shed off instead of clinging to the finish. As a final note, beware of costly “paint sealant” applications tacked on at the dealers, as oftentimes, this is merely a longer-lasting version of traditional car wax, and there is no such thing as a lifetime guarantee on these products.
Vacuums and Brushes
Most people assume that all vacuums, whether home use or car-wash types have the ability to suck up all kinds of dirt, but that’s just not true. Given the disparity of power model to model, the best way to vacuum your car’s interior is to use it in conjunction with two types of brushes: one soft-bristled, and one stiff. Loosening up embedded dirt while you vacuum is a very efficient way to do a deep cleaning. Be sure to work from the top down, so your final task will be cleaning the floor carpets. Don’t forget to use the soft brush on all the cracks and crevices, including vent openings and door pockets.
Lubricate Hinges and Latches
A few shots of white lithium grease or drops of heavy motor oil will go a long way towards keeping your vehicle’s hood and door hinges moving freely. This procedure will work wonders on your hood and trunk latches, as well. Plan on doing this several times during the summer; especially if you live in a hot, dry climate. Be sure to wipe away any excess drippage to prevent debris from collecting around the area.
Keep Your Tires Rolling
The single best thing you can do for your car’s tires is to check the pressure every week, and sometimes sooner if you live in a highly variable climate. While you’re performing this pressure check, take a good look at each tire’s tread depth, and if less than 1/4″, plan on replacing them. It’s a good idea to have your tires rotated, balanced, and aligned once a year, in addition to replacing any bad shock absorbers that will lead to uneven tire wear and erratic handling.
Check Belts and Hoses
Gone are the days of car engines using a multitude of individual belts to power various systems. Most of today’s cars employ a single serpentine belt that connects to all the necessary components. Even though these are designed to be extremely durable, after a given number of miles and/or use, they can break, so checking for any signs of cracking or fraying is of utmost importance. Don’t rely too much upon recommended replacement figures, for real-world conditions are a much better indicator of the need to replace them. Hose inspection can be more problematic for the DIYer, but if you see by cracks and bulging that the visible top-side ones need replacing, it’s a safe bet the lower, hidden ones should also be replaced.
Replace the Air Filter
Many performance issues related to poor gas mileage occur because of dirty or blocked air filters. They should be changed in accordance with your individual driving habits. Naturally, if most of the miles you put on your car are stop-and-go, or travelling dusty roads, you will need to replace it sooner rather than later. Gas filters are typically a part that one ignores until it fails, but the best preventive action you can take is to use the proper octane gas for your particular car and avoid at all costs any gas with high concentrations of the dreaded seal-dissolving ethanol additive.
Honourable mention: Car insurance
Auto insurance may be a contract between you and also the insurance firm that protects you against loss within the event of an accident or felony. In exchange for your paying a premium, the insurance firm agrees to pay your losses as printed in your policy.
As with all insurance, before signing the insurance contract you must rigorously browse the policy document and products disclosure statement and confirm you raise your insurance company regarding any aspects of the policy that you simply don’t perceive. Like shopping for a car, there’s no single best resolution once it comes to buying insurance. Here, ensure that worth isn’t the sole issue you think about when you opt for your car insurance. You’ve got a good alternative of policies, and you must research to make sure that you simply select a product that suits your wants and circumstances.
Performing a weekly inspection of your car is a smart habit to get into. You can save a ton of money in maintenance costs, with the added bonus of knowing you have virtually eliminated the possibility of a roadside breakdown.