It seems like every cost involved with your car keeps increasing. Gas prices keep climbing, maintenance seems to cost more and more, and every time you have to replace something, it eats a hole in your pocketbook. There are some things you can do to help keep your car in good shape. Most of these things don’t cost much in time or money, but you do have to remember to do them when they’re needed.
One very important thing to do is actually read the owner’s manual that comes with your car. Some people assume that since they’ve been driving for years, the owner’s manual has nothing new to tell them. However, this booklet outlines everything you need to know about proper maintenance for you vehicle. It tells you when to schedule your oil changes (it’s NOT every 3,000 miles), how long your warranty covers different parts of your car, and more. Not only do you need to read this information, you also need to make sure you keep your owner’s manual in the car so you can reference it when needed. Once you’ve read the owner’s manual and know when these maintenance visits need to happen, make sure they actually DO happen. Make notes on your calendar, put them in your Reminders program on your phone or tablet, or do whatever it takes to make sure they actually get done. Don’t forget your tires, either. Rotating your tires may not be listed in your owner’s manual since different tires require different rotations. In general, tires should be rotated about every six months, but that’s not always the case. This will help reduce uneven wear on the tire treads, which helps prevent flats and makes the tires last longer. You might not think washing your car is that important, but it’s actually another way of keeping your car in good shape. Driving, especially if you drive on gravel or dirt, will cover your car in dust, mud, and other gunk. This can eventually lead to rust and other corrosion, especially on the underside of your car that won’t get cleaned off by the rain.Be sure to get under there and give your car a good washing on a regular basis. Being knowledgeable about your car is also very important. You should know how to check all of the fluids in your car, including oil, transmission, power steering, brake fluid, and antifreeze. You should know the standard colors for these fluids and have an idea of where they should be. For example, if you ever see brown antifreeze, you should know that’s a bad color and needs to be flushed out. Finally, one good maintenance tip is to remember that antifreeze, brake fluid, and power steering fluid do need to be changed. While it doesn’t need changing as often as oil, it’s good to do it at least every two years unless your owner’s manual says differently. Always follow what the manual says, even if it goes against common sense or what everyone “knows” is the correct method. Doing so will keep your car in the best shape possible.
When you take a corner in your car, the outside wheels have a slightly longer distance to go than the inside wheels. That means the outside wheels have to turn a bit faster than the inside ones, and the piece of mechanical wizardry that makes this possible is called the differential. The differential allows the drive wheels to rotate at different speeds and turns without the wheel binding or hopping. If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is on the rear axle.
Brakes are essential to the proper function of your vehicle. They’re responsible for bringing your thousand(s)-pound vehicle to a halt, making safe turns and slowing down. If your brakes are not maintained properly, you run the risk of damaging the vehicle or getting involved in an accident, which can cause serious injury to yourself and others on the road. For this reason, brake inspections and repairs are essential to the proper functioning of your vehicle and shouldn’t be neglected.