April is Car Care Month!
Throughout life, there are milestones that we all look forward to and one of the most popular is obtaining a driver’s license! I spent my early teen years saving every penny possible to purchase a vehicle at 16 and ended up with a 1984 Ford Mustang. She wasn’t the prettiest car but I loved her like she was a brand new luxury vehicle. To this day, I still cherish every car I own. Since April is Car Care Month, I’ve created a list of tips to keep your car in great shape!
When temperatures start rising, we have a desire to get out on the road for weekend getaways, vacations, etc. National Car Care Month reminds us of all the issues that we may have avoided during the cold Winter months. If I have learned anything about a vehicle, it’s that they need to be tuned in for each season. Spring typically brings rain, creating slippery roads. Your tires, brakes, and windshield wipers need to be tip-top shape.
During the rainy season, I treat my windshield to Rain-X Original Glass Treatment. Once you try it and get stuck in a rain storm, I promise you will make it a habit. The treatment dramatically improves visibility by making the rain bead and roll right off the windshield. Along with Rain-X Wiper Blades, you have a combination of potentially life-saving accessories. If you can see better, you can improve driving response time and reduce hazardous risks.
The only parts of your car that has direct contact with the road are the tires. A good set can make all the difference in how your car drives, rides, and how safe you keep your passengers. For peak performance, tires must need to be properly inflated, have a good tread depth, balanced, and aligned. Personally, I check my tires while I fill up with gas. I look for potential problems such as nails, chunks of tread missing, odd wear patterns from improper balance/alignment, and over inflation.
Air Pressure Gauges can be picked up fairly cheap at your local automotive store. I keep a basic manual gauge in the car but if you’d prefer, digital gauges are also available. Digital/Dial gauges are typically more accurate and easier to read but the old school pencil-style works in a pinch. Proper inflation can save wear on your tires and improve gas mileage. The recommended pressure levels can be found in the manual, the decal placed in the door jamb, and even on the tires.
To gain maximum performance, I have my tires rotated along with oil changes. The front and rear of a vehicle perform different steering and braking functions, creating a distinct wear pattern. By rotating the tires, you will get the most out of your investment.
When a warning light flashes in your car, it is easy to become worried. Lights can illuminate for simple things (i.e. low washer fluid) or more complicated issues when the ‘Check Engine’ light comes on. The check engine light is an indicator of exhaust emission problems. When the light stays on, make a trip to the garage or your local parts store for a check; however, if it is blinking, the catalytic converter is overheating and you need to get to a repair shop immediately. Being proactive in regards to your warning lights, you can save thousands of dollars on repairs by catching problems early.
It’s All in the Details…
When we went shopping for a “new to us” vehicle, I told my husband that I wasn’t going to end up with a black or really dark-colored vehicle. Black vehicles are beautiful, when they’re clean but it’s keeping them clean that is the problem! Despite my hesitation, I fell in love with a black SUV and decided that it was worth the struggle of maintaining a spotless vehicle.
On a weekly basis, we do a basic cleaning of our vehicle. Basic cleaning includes washing and waxing the exterior, vacuuming, dusting, glass cleaning, and preserving with various protection products. Cleaning cloths, mitts, towels, brushes, etc. need to be made of a soft material to prevent scratching surfaces. Only use products recommended for automobiles as household cleaners could cause damage.
- Check fluids including oil, power steering, brake, transmission, windshield fluid, antifreeze/coolant.
- Battery – Check for a tight, clean, corrosion-free connection.
- Brakes – Request that the brake linings, rotors, and drums be checked during each oil change.
- Belts + Hoses – A small crack can cause loss of power. Tiny cracks and frayed belts can be potential fire hazards.
- Lighting – You need to see well in all conditions. Replace if they are burnt out.
Just like with taxes, automobile records are crucial for maintaining your vehicle. I keep track of every oil change, maintenance check, and issues that arise. If you decide to trade your car in for a newer model, the records can come in handy for boosting the trade-in or resale value.