Car Care Tips
You have heard all the stories, cars and trucks lasting 200,000, 300,000, even 500,000 miles.
What’s the secret? Maintenance.
Here are a few important tips:
Check The Oil
The simplest task to increase the life of your vehicle is to maintaining proper amount of oil in the engine. Be sure to change the oil and filter at the intervals recommended in the owner’s manual.
Oil is a fluid that disperses heat. Some of the oil is burned off by the engine so it needs to be replenished when the level drops. Make certain it is the proper weight oil for your engine.
Sludge is a petroleum byproduct that is a gooey, black-colored substance that builds up in an engine. It is a major contributor to engine problems. Changing the engine oil at prescribed intervals or more frequently will reduce the probability of sludge buildup and extend the life of the engine.
Specific driving conditions can cause sludge. It can come from oil solidifying on a long trip at engine temperatures generally above 210 degrees. Other culprits are short trips that prevent the engine from reaching its proper operating temperature and water in the oil caused by condensation.
Check Power Steering Fluid
Older cars and trucks, and some new models have a hydraulic power steering pump that is lubricated by power steering fluid. The pump’s reservoir has a screw-type cap that lifts off, so the fluid level can be checked. If the pump runs dry, it can fail and require a replacement costing hundreds of dollars.
A few symptoms of a power steering problem are squealing noises when turning the steering wheel or heavy or stiff steering. Newer vehicles have electric power steering; there are no fluids.
Transmission Fluid Replacement
Having the proper amount of fluid is critical because it cools the transmission, lubricates moving parts and smooths the shifts between gears. This fluid will deteriorate over time. Frequent stop-and-go driving or pulling a trailer accelerates deterioration. Under those conditions the transmission’s operating temperature rises, putting a strain on the transmission’s components and the fluid.
Radiator Coolant Flushing
Coolant has rust inhibitors that break down over time. Rust and corrosion can build up and harm an engine, plug a thermostat and damage a water pump. A system flush and filled with fresh new coolant will help keep your engine healthy. Again, check the owner’s manual.
Top Off Brake Fluid
While you are under the hood checking fluids, it’s a good time to check the brake fluid level. Place the vehicle on a level surface, then unscrew the reservoir cap.
The brake fluid level should be between the minimum and maximum marks in the fluid reservoir. Use the automaker’s recommended fluid and add to the proper level. Replacing the brake fluid will not increase the longevity of the brake system but it might save your life. Brake fluid absorbs water over time which degrades its effectiveness in providing stopping power.
Rotate Your Tires
Tires are expensive, so you want them to last. The owner’s manual will say when the tires should be rotated and alignment checked. Equally important is maintaining the proper air pressure to get more miles out of each tire. A sticker on the driver’s door frame lists the tire pressure for the front and rear tires.
Make Sure The Engine Air Filter Is Clean
A dirty air filer can reduce miles per gallon, hurt engine performance and contribute to higher engine emissions. Check the condition of your engine air filter on a regular basis and replace it as needed.
Interior Car Care Tips
Here are a few tips to help keep the inside of your vehicle fresh and clean!
Deep-Clean Carpet & Upholstery
Use a carpet cleaning machine to get the deep dirt that settles into the fibers of the carpet. (Clean cloth seats this way as well.) It sprays the carpet with a solution of water and cleaner and then sucks the dirt and grime into a reservoir. You can also rent one from a rental center or use a spray-on cleaner and a scrub brush instead.
Brush Out The Air Vents
These louvers are a real magnet for dust and a vacuum with a brush attachment just won’t get it all. Take an inexpensive artist’s paintbrush and give it a light shot of furniture polish. Work the brush into the crevices to collect the dust. Wipe the brush off with a rag and move on to the next one.
Suck Up the Dust As You Go
Most of us start cleaning the interior by shampooing the carpet. That’s a mistake—you’ll just get it dirty again as you clean the upper surfaces. Instead, start at the top and work your way down. Vacuum the headliner, dash, console and door panels. Then clean all the glass and dust the nooks and crannies. Sweep the dust out of the cracks with a detailing brush. Catch all that crud right away with your vacuum.