Other than your home, your car or truck is probably your most expensive possession, so taking good care of it is important. In addition to regular maintenance by trained dealership professionals, these tips will help maximize the life of your vehicle and keep it running it the way it should.
Drive With Care
While most people learned to drive defensively and “watch out for the other guy” during driver’s training, driving with care means more than that. It means avoiding rapid acceleration and braking, which can hurt fuel economy and reduce the life of your brakes. Driving with care also means observing posted speed limits; not only is it safer and more fuel efficient, obeying the speed limit also gives you more time to see and avoid potholes (and other “surprises”). Your tires, wheels and suspension components will also last longer if you don’t speed away from stoplights, slam on the brakes at stop signs and crash into potholes at a high rate of speed.
Clean Your Car
Kids, food, sports, home improvement – daily life offers plenty of opportunity to get the interior of your vehicle dirty. Whether it’s a ketchup spill, mud or drywall dust, make sure you tend to stains and dirt in a timely fashion. If you have leather seating surfaces, wipe them down often and use a leather protectant to keep them from staining or cracking. If you have cloth seats, vacuum regularly and use cleaners and stain-prevention treatments recommended by the manufacturer.
The same goes for the exterior. Road debris, weather and pollutants can wreak havoc on the finish of your car or truck, so wash your vehicle regularly with a non-detergent product made specifically for automobiles. Remember to spray down the undercarriage when you wash, especially if you’ve been off-road or live where salt is used on the roads. To keep your vehicle looking its best over time, protect your paint job with wax or sealant at least a couple times a year.
Also, inspect the battery terminals, engine and other crucial parts for leaks and excessive dirt. If you notice a problem, check with your dealer’s service department for advice or assistance. A little work now will keep your vehicle looking great for years to come, but if cleaning, waxing and inspecting isn’t your idea of a good time, watch for dealer detailing specials and take advantage of the free inspections that are usually part of dealer oil change services.
Fix Small Items Before They Become Big Ones
Fixing small things before they become major issues is important, for the health of your wallet as much as for the health of your vehicle. It’s much more cost effective to replace a worn belt or to fix a small crack in your windshield than it is to break down on the side of the road or have to replace an entire windshield. Taking the time sooner rather than later will save you both time and money. Filter changes might seem like small issues, but neglecting them can also lead to bigger, more costly issues down the road. You should also pay careful attention to cabin filters. The filters clean the air that comes in through the ventilation system, and if left unchecked, you could experience unpleasant driving conditions, especially if you have respiratory issues or allergies. They typically need changing every 12,000-15,000 miles but check your owner's manual. Keeping up with manufacturer-recommended service intervals is another way to have a better running vehicle that will hold more of its value over time.
Watch Your Tires
One of the simplest ways to extend the life of your tires is to make sure they are rotated according to manufacturer recommendations (check your owner’s manual). This helps make sure they wear evenly, and the tread inspection that occurs during tire rotation can help detect other potential problems. If you notice uneven tread wear or you experience vibration when driving, simple things like wheel balancing or alignment can correct the problem and maximize tire life. Proper inflation is equally important – if your tires aren’t properly inflated, your fuel economy will suffer and you will have to replace tires more frequently. The tread-depth of your tires is also an indication of whether or not your car is safe to drive. Your ability to control your car on wet or slippery roads depends on adequate tread, so have your tires inspected at least twice a year and replace them when recommended by the manufacturer or as necessary for your driving conditions.
Don’t Ignore the Dash
Your vehicle is a high-tech and complex piece of machinery and it needs to be treated that way. Any time the “check engine” light, or any other warning light, comes on, it should be attended to immediately to determine the cause. These indicators were specifically designed by the manufacturer to catch smaller items before they turn into major ones. Prompt attention to diagnostic alerts can prevent or minimize expensive repairs.
The best way to keep your car running optimally is to service it regularly and treat it well. Don’t hesitate to stop by and let our factory-trained technicians help you get the most out of your vehicle.
This article is presented by Perkins Motors in Colorado Springs, Colorado.