Your car is an expensive investment and should be cared for as such. Car maintenance is very important in keeping that investment in good condition. You’ve got to go to a mechanic if something goes wrong, isn’t it better that things not go wrong in the first place? If you want to save money on repairs, here are five car maintenance mistakes you should learn to avoid.
Ignoring Your Check Engine Light
This is by far the most important. When the light is on, but there are no obvious issues, it’s easy to ignore the light. You do so at your own risk. There are so many parts of the car that the Check Engine light monitors. It can pick up problems before all but the most highly skilled mechanics could even guess something is wrong. If the light is on, have your car checked out by an ASE-certified technician. Ignoring it will lead to costly repairs later on. It may even get you into an accident.
Driving With an Overheating Engine
Engines overheat if they’re being worked too hard or if the cooling system has a problem. In either case, you need to stop immediately. Driving on an overheating engine causes serious damage. The whole engine might need to be replaced if you stress it too far. It can even cause your engine to burst into flames. Keep an eye on your temperature gage while driving and if you see it spike, pull over, turn off the engine, and open the hood to ventilate it. Give yourself at least 20 minutes before you attempt to drive again, and call a tow truck if the problem persists. For long driving trips, keep a spare gallon of coolant and distilled water on hand.
If you find yourself in a position where stopping is impossible, there are a few steps you can take to keep your car going until it’s safe to stop. First, turn off your AC. Then, turn your heat to max hot and the blower fan to high. This will cool the engine by pulling heat into the passenger compartment. This will be horribly uncomfortable for those inside, but it will keep the engine going long enough for you to find a safe place to pull off.
Not Checking Tire Pressure
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 1/3 of all the cars on the road are driving with at least one underinflated tire. Underinflated tires allow too much of the tire’s surface area to touch the ground, which creates heat from friction. That heat can cause several problems, including premature wear, tread separation, and blowouts. Blowouts especially can cause accidents, either from the driver losing control of the vehicle, or other drivers swerving to miss debris launched at them by the blowout.
Many people don’t check the tire pressure unless the tire looks low, but this is a mistake. Tires can lose much of their pressure and still appear to be mostly inflated. Manufacturers recommend that you check your tire pressure at least once a month.
Not Checking Wheel Alignment
The wheel alignment isn’t something that you need to do very often if you’re driving on good roads and following safe driving laws. That makes it easy to overlook. It’s easy for the wheel alignment to be thrown off. If you regularly drive on poorly maintained roads, hit potholes, or run over a curb, you should check your alignment and have your tires rotated. This helps you prevent uneven tread wear, which improves the lifespan of your tires and saves you a lot of money in the long run. Even if you don’t do anything obvious to put your wheels out of alignment, you should still check them at least once every 6,000 miles.
Not Checking Fluid Levels
Everybody knows that it’s important to check the oil – though many people still forget to do it regularly – but that’s not the only fluid that needs checking. There are five major fluids that you should check on as a part of regular car maintenance. Engine oil keeps all the parts moving smoothly and prevents damage from friction. Coolant helps the engine stay cool (see section 2 for why that’s important). Power steering fluid helps your car turn more smoothly, giving you better control of the vehicle. Break fluid gives the breaks power to stop your car. You should also check your windshield washer fluid regularly. A dirty windshield is hard to see through and can lead to accidents.
Do not neglect any of these fluids. A shortage of any one of them is an accident waiting to happen.
Car Maintenance Matters
Cars are an expensive investment and you want them to last. You can extend the lives of our cars by not overlooking the small details. Check up on these five things regularly if you want to enjoy your car for years to come. And if you do have a problem, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We at S&E Performance are ready to help you with all your car maintenance needs.