1. Essential Items to Keep in Your Car
When we think of car safety, airbags and seatbelts spring to mind – and rightly so. However, we often overlook the smaller items that can go a long way to keeping things under control in an emergency situation. It doesn’t take much money to stock your car, and having these tools at hand wherever you are can protect you and your passengers until that tow truck shows.
Owner’s Manual | Jumper Cables | Distilled Water | First-Aid Kit | Duct Tape and Rope
Blanket or Large Towel | Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman | Tire Pressure Gauge | Snack Bar
Napkins, Tissues or Paper Towels | Updated Registration and Insurance Card
2. What to Do When Your Engine Overheats
Things can get out of control quickly if you don’t know what to do when your vehicle’s temperature rises.
Step 1: Check for steam Steam is bad. Take it seriously.
Step 2: Turn off your A/C, Turn on your heater
Step 3: Pull over and turn off your engine Do not idle the engine while you’re collecting your thoughts
Step 4: Pop the hood WARNING: Very likely it’s hotter than usual under there..
Step 5: Check coolant levels
Step 6: If you need to keep driving… Wait until you’re certain that the engine is cool, protect your hand with a thick glove or rag, and twist off the radiator cap.
3. How to Protect Your Car’s Interior
Try to add up the hours you spend in your car. It’s a lot, isn’t it? Commutes, errand runs and road trips can have you sitting in those bucket seats for hours on end, and during that time, you and your passengers are actually living in the interior. That means smudges on the windows, scratches on the dash and food in the seat crevices accumulate and leave you wondering what happened to the spotless interior you swear it had when you first bought the car.
A Quick Clean
Luckily, it’s not that difficult to keep a car’s cabin from looking a little too, well, lived in. First things first, get something to stuff your trash into. Just use a plastic bag or a container you don’t use around the house and throw it in the backseat. Keeping trash off the floor also preserves your carpets, which can get stained from any number of items.
Store a small spray bottle of your homemade cleaning fluid and a rag under your seat or in a storage bin for access when you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school or sitting in that crazy-long drive-through line. This will also come in handy when an emergency spill happens.
If you spend a lot of time ducking in and out of the elements, you might want to grab some all-weather floor mats. They’re easy to clean and do a great job of keeping the muck in one place.
The sun’s rays can also wreak havoc on your car’s surfaces, causing vinyl to crack over time and materials to fade. A simple solution is to regularly put a sunshade on the windshield. They’re inexpensive and help to keep your interior looking new.
Saving money on repair work and cleaning comes more easily when you take the time to make preventative care a priority. Not only will these tricks make your car a nicer place to be, keeping grime out of your ride will cut down on large maintenance costs in the future and will help to retain its value over time.
4.When Should You Rotate Your Tires
How to know when to switch your car tires around.
Ever looked at the bottom of your shoes and noticed that one area of the sole is more worn than another? The way you walk causes a wear pattern to occur as you put more weight on certain areas of your feet. The same thing happens with your car. Just imagine your tires are the shoe soles of the car. The act of driving throws the auto’s weight around, leaving distinctive erosion patterns on the tires. In order to combat the inevitable uneven wear, you have to rotate your tires to different locations on your vehicle.
What Causes Wear?
Tire wear can become uneven for a number of reasons. A car’s weight dispersion can be a factor, especially if you have a front-wheel drive vehicle. Not only do the tires on these have to endure the steering, braking and accidental bruises from parking but also carry the entire weight of both the engine and the front axle.
Incorrect tire pressure and uneven alignment can result in tire wear. Also, because of the weight distribution in the car, the front tires can wear out more quickly than the rear ones.
Your tires will give you a little warning that the tread is uneven. Considering that there shouldn’t be noise emanating from your tires, listen for a humming sound coming from them on smooth roads. That is a good indication it may be time for a rotation.
Car Manufacturers recommend you rotate your tires every 12 000 to 15 000 kilometers, convenient timing to perform the service roughly at every other oil change, depending on when you change it.
If you drive your car pretty hard, or have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you may want to rotate your tires a little more often than that. In these cases, having your tires rotated at 7000 kilometers is a reasonable timeframe.
Why Do It?
At this point, you may be wondering why you even need to be spending this much time on tire rotation. Well, for one thing, it’s safer. If you have balder tires on the front, you are at risk of losing control of the steering and getting into an accident.
By rotating your tires, your vehicle’s braking will be more even, thus more effective; and the handling will be more balanced. Things you’ll notice as soon as those tires get moved around. Evenly worn tires also equate to a smoother ride, with increased traction and better gas mileage.
With all your tires wearing down at the same rate, you’ll be able to purchase a new set of four when the time comes instead of going in for the front tires, followed by another visit to buy new rear tires. Essentially, it makes the buying process a less frequent affair. Combine that with the result of a more efficient ride and tire rotation should sit permanently on your car maintenance checklist.
5. 9 Ways to Ruin Your Paint Without Knowing It
Keeping your car looking good isn’t just a matter of enhancing its resale value, although that’s important too, it’s also your car’s only line of defense between the sheet metal and the elements.
The Source: Wildfires
The Problem: When wet, ash forms an alkali that can ruin your car’s finish.
The Solution: Keep your car covered, use a car duster for white ash, wash thoroughly if it’s soot.
The Source: Tree sap
The Problem: Ancient peoples used tree sap as glue for a good reason.
The Solution: Bug and tar remover, mineral spirits, clay bar treatment
The Source: The gas pump
The Problem: Spilled gasoline
The Solution: Don’t top off, and clean up accidental drips
The Source: Fingertips and mischief
The Problem: Writing or rubbing on dirty paint causes permanent marks.
The Solution: Keep your car clean.
The Source: Your morning coffee
The Problem: Coffee and sodas contain acids that can etch your clear coat.
The Solution: Wash it off immediately
The Source: Dirt on your car-wash tools
The Problem: Unseen dirt can scratch
The Solution: Keep an extra mitt handy.
The Source: Automatic sprinklers
The Problem: Water leaves hard-to-remove spots on your paint.
The Solution: Stay away from sprinklers whenever possible
The Source: Avian digestion
The Problem: Bird poop is acidic
The Solution: Wash it off immediately
The Source: Bugs
The Problem: Bug guts are acidic.
The Solution: Get to the car wash
6. How To Reduce Your Vehicle Maintenance Costs
If you want to avoid nasty and unexpected surprise maintenance costs, sticking to a regimented schedule of preventative maintenance is something you are going to want to get used to. The reason being is simple – frequent maintenance will keep your car in good health, ensuring you get the most out of all those expensive-to-replace parts. While it might sound counterintuitive, the best way to reduce maintenance costs is to stick to a prescribed maintenance schedule.
Keeping your vehicle’s fluids new and clean is priority number one when it comes to minimizing future costs. Frequent oil changes can prevent the buildup of harmful deposits that rob your car of fuel economy and power, as well as make internal components work harder. A harder working engine is one with a shorter life span.
Unless you plan on doing engine surgery on your own, engine work is going to cost you a huge pile of money. Even if your vehicle is brand new, it is a good idea to check the oil every few hundred miles. If the level slowly gets lower between oil changes, you might have an issue with your engine. The same applies for your vehicle’s brake fluid, clutch fluid (if it’s a manual transmission) or your automatic transmission fluid.
While keeping an eye on your vehicle’s fluid levels is a good first step toward improving your investment’s longevity, sticking to the recommended service intervals in your owner’s manual is equally important.
A good example of this is a timing belt replacement. Timing belts and chains keep the different parts of a car’s engine in sync with each other and on average should be replaced every 95 000 km. Because of the infrequency of a timing belt change, it can be easy to overlook this vital service However, waiting another 15 000 km is not advised, as the results could result in a catastrophic engine head failure, a repair that could cost you over double the amount of a timing belt service.
Different manufacturers allow for different time periods between required maintenance. While it may look expensive to go about replacing your air filter, changing your oil and rotating your tires every few thousand miles, the preventative care saves you money in the long run. For a general idea, you can check out our guide to car maintenance.
That said, there are a few ways to trim rands from your regular maintenance schedule. By and large, private, independent shops charge less than licensed dealers because they have access to less expensive aftermarket parts as opposed to typically pricier Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts. If your vehicle is out of warranty there’s little reason to use the dealer over a local shop, and if the local guys are charging less money, then by all means use them. You can use Driver Side to find and rate local mechanics for your specific vehicle.
Don’t forget to save all your service receipts. Not only are they good to have for reminders, but having them available for potential buyers will also increase the residual value of your car.
7. How To Extend The Life Of Your Car
In today’s economy, we’re constantly asked how people can keep their current cars on the road for longer periods of time. While it is expensive to buy a new car every few years, it is also expensive to repair a car that may be on its last legs.
TOP 10 TIPS
1. Drive gently.
While this may be the hardest thing to do for your car, it’s something that will pay huge dividends over the life of the vehicle. Adjusting your driving style to minimize wear and tear on your ride can not only give you a few more years of happy motoring, but it can also save you cash in repairs and replacement parts. It might take some of the fun out of driving, but accelerating gently from stop lights and stop signs, avoiding abrupt braking and completing smooth, non-aggressive turns all play a part in keeping your car in one piece and save you gas too.
2. Keep up with fluid changes.
Checking on your vehicle’s fluids is paramount to its longevity. While some fluids like brake fluid, clutch fluid and coolant may not require attention as often as oil or transmission fluid, they’re just as important. Mark one day on your calendar each month to make sure all of your fluids are topped off. It’s quick, easy and can save you some serious repair dollars down the line. Of course, remember to change those fluids when your service manual requires it, too.
3. Know what weather does to your car.
Do what you can to protect your car from all types of weather. While a garage is the ideal storage solution for your investment, other options exist to protect your vehicle from the sun’s UV rays, drastic temperature changes, water and salt. Look into inexpensive options like car covers. Small steps like those can go a long way to preserve the appearance and head off rust before it can get started, saving you repair costs and keeping the resale value of your car high.
4. Clean the interior.
Excess dirt and grime can act like sand paper, creating unnecessary abrasion that can wear down upholstery and carpeting. Purchase a good set of floor mats if your vehicle didn’t come with them and vacuum your car on a regular basis. Keeping things tidy inside can keep you aware of problem spots inside, too, allowing you to get them repaired before they grow worse.
5. Maintain the paint job.
Your vehicle’s paint job primary job is to protect the car’s sheet metal from corrosion. Touch up any and all nicks before rust can get started and always make sure to wax your vehicle with a high quality product at least twice a year. Doing so will protect the vehicles clear coat and save the paint from fading over time. Also, be sure to use a recommended car wash solution. Paying extra for the good stuff now will come back to you in the form of resale value later.
6. Flush the engine and top it up with mileage-appropriate fluids.
As your vehicle ages, carbon deposits and grime form inside of the engine no matter how well you maintain it. Using a product like Sea Foam engine restorer or BG44K as recommended on the packaging can keep build up in check, improve fuel economy and restore lost power. Also, be sure use the appropriate fluids for your vehicle’s age and use high-mileage oil as your car grows older.
7. Check on your tires and wheels.
If your tires have worn unevenly or your wheels are unbalanced, vibration can cause excess stress on suspension components. Excess stress means extra trips to the mechanic and a hefty bill. Taking the time to keep your wheels clean can alert you to bent or damaged wheels and uneven tread, once again helping you to correct the problem before things get out of hand.
8. Schedule checkups twice a year with a mechanic you trust.
Regardless of how well you think you know your vehicle, a well-trained, trustworthy mechanic can spot things ahead of time that you might miss. Taking the time to schedule a check up with a good mechanic twice a year may seem obsessive, but preventative maintenance at the hands of a qualified professional is cheap insurance. Also, keep all the documentation; being able to provide a potential buyer with all of your service records is a major buying incentive.
9. Address minor problems early.
It’s easy to hear a strange noise in your vehicle and hope that it will go away. Unfortunately, there aren’t any cars out there that can heal themselves, at least not yet. Don’t put off minor maintenance or easy repair work. Doing so can lead to larger problems and larger repair bills in the end. Bite the bullet, fix what’s wrong and your car will last a lot longer.
10. Be aware of new sounds and vibrations.
No matter how embarrassing it may be to stand in front of a perfect stranger and make funny noises, it is worth it. Effectively relaying what you’ve experienced in your vehicle to your mechanic is an essential tool to keeping it on the road. The more your service center knows about the problem, the more likely they are to fix it right the first time and for less labor costs. Be sure to tell the mechanic as much as you can about the problem, including details like speed, what direction you are turning, the temperature outside and the time of day. It may sound strange, but all of those details can help your mechanic assess the situation and set it right without expensive exploratory work.
8. How to Save Money on Fuel
You don’t have to buy a new fuel-efficient car. No one wants to trade a fuel bill for a car payment, so take a look at our top 5 ways to save on fuel and you may just be able to pocket a little extra money at the end of the month.
1. Change Your Driving Style
While this is hands down the biggest thing you can do to save on fuel, it’s also the hardest. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the rush of hard acceleration, typically runs 10 mph over the speed limit and brakes abruptly, we’ve got bad news: you’re hurting your vehicle’s fuel economy, and your wallet, in a big way. Depending on the kind of vehicle you drive and just how extreme you are with the throttle and brake, tempering your driving style can up your vehicle’s fuel economy. Scaling back the speed by just 10 km/h means you’ll also see an increase in fuel economy.
2. Use the Correct Fuel Grade
Premium grade fuel doesn’t mean it’s aged like fine wine or any cleaner than regular or midgrade. The name is simply an easy way for fuel companies to communicate the different octane levels among its offerings. If you’ve been pumping premium into your tank for years and your vehicle doesn’t require it, you’ve been throwing your money right out the window. Experts say you should use the lowest octane rating you can get away with so long as your vehicle doesn’t knock. Basically, knock describes what happens when your fuel ignites before it should inside of your engine. Higher octane fuels contain special ingredients to keep the fuel from igniting under higher pressures. So, if your vehicle isn’t knocking, step down a grade.
3. Lose the Weight
If your trunk is full to the brim with treasures of the past five years of your life and your backseat looks like a recycling center exploded inside, you’re spending more than you should on fuel. Simply put, the more weight an engine has to move around, the more fuel it requires. As the pounds add up inside of your vehicle, your fuel economy goes down. Keeping your interior clean and free of any unnecessary burdens will go a long way toward seeing better performance at the pump.
4. Keep Up With Your Maintenance
If you think changing your oil regularly and keeping up with the rest of your engine’s maintenance doesn’t impact your fuel economy, think again. As your oil ages, it thickens, and that makes your engine work harder with every revolution. What’s more, neglecting parts like your vehicle’s oxygen sensor can trick your car into thinking it needs more fuel than it actually does. It’s impossible to say just how much keeping up with your vehicle’s maintenance can improve your fuel economy, but doing so will keep those km/l as close to what they were from the factory as possible as your vehicle ages.
5. Mind Those Tires
Keeping your hard-earned dollars out of the tank is easier than you might think.
Finally, take a good look at your vehicle’s tires. First, make sure they’re properly inflated. A low tire makes your vehicle that much harder to push down the road, requiring more and more fuel. Second, make sure everything’s wearing evenly. Uneven wear usually means something is out of adjustment on your suspension and your tires aren’t rolling straight down the road. If one or more tire is out of alignment, the car may actually be fighting itself as you drive, meaning your engine is working harder than it should. Finally, decide if the type of tires you have on your vehicle are really what you need. Just because you have a big truck doesn’t mean it requires 7-ply mud-terrain rubber. Going with a lighter, more street-savvy tire can save you big bucks in both cost and fuel economy. Most tire companies even offer low-rolling resistance tires.
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