14 Tips to Keep Your Car on the Road

Owning a vehicle makes your daily commute easy. While it’s an exciting feeling to drive your car, things shouldn’t stop there. To enjoy a comfortable ride for a long time, you should put in the time and effort to keep it in top-notch condition. A properly maintained car doesn’t just reduce the need for regular maintenance, but you’ll get a good price the next time you plan to sell it.

Overlooking simple maintenance practices may lead to costly repairs due to significant wear and tear of critical components. So, if you’re planning to buy a car or already have one on the road, learning about the common car problems and solutions will help keep your vehicle on the road longer. Here are a few tips you should know about.

1. Check the Condition of Your Tires

Your tire’s condition greatly impacts your car’s safety. When worn out, they’ll lose their grip, causing them to skid, especially when driving in wet or snow-drenched conditions. Skidding can be dangerous as it’s among the leading causes of an accident. A penny test can determine whether your tire has significant wear and tear.

Place the penny between your vehicle tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down to do this. If you can see Lincoln’s head, the tire tread is worn out, and you should replace the tires.

2. Regularly Change Your Car Fluids

Except for electric vehicles, all cars require engine oil to lubricate the engine’s moving parts, ensuring the vehicle’s smooth operation. With time, engine oil can become dirty and lose its ability to provide lubrication efficiently. When this happens, the increased friction causes wear and tear of the engine’s internal components, resulting in engine failure. Regular oil changes will ensure the engine runs efficiently, preventing unexpected breakdowns.

In addition to engine oil, regularly changing the transmission fluid is important. The fluid helps lubricate gears, allowing them to change smoothly and effortlessly. When running low on transmission fluid, your car may start shaking while driving, or the check-engine light could turn on. So, changing your transmission fluid as recommended will help you avoid costly car problems and solutions, which is the case if you have to seek transmission replacement.

3. Change Spark Plugs and Leads as Required

Spark plugs ignite the air-fuel mixture in the engine chamber, helping to start the engine. If the spark plugs are defective, your engine will keep misfiring or have a rough idle. Remember that many spark plug manufacturers have recommendations on the duration spark plugs should be used before being changed. Sticking to the recommended change cycle will help avoid costly car problems and solutions resulting from defective plugs.

It’s also recommended to seek genuine replacement parts when changing your plugs. For instance, if you own a European vehicle, using the help of an experienced foreign auto repair technician can be a great way to ensure quick repairs.

4. Maintain Your Vehicle Regularly

Failing to follow the recommended maintenance schedule is the quickest way to deal with hefty car repair costs down the road. Besides dealing with car damage, your auto insurance company may also not compensate you for your car damages when you file for a claim. Usually, most auto insurance plans will have a clause outlining the insured obligations, including proper upkeep. Your compensation claims may be denied if your insurer determines the lack of proper maintenance, which might have caused your car damage.

Vehicle maintenance primarily depends on the miles driven; you can find this information in your vehicle’s manual. In most cases, your car should be serviced after about 5,000 miles or every six months, depending on your vehicle usage. During the maintenance session, your mechanic will change the oil and perform other multi-point inspections like checking and replacing worn-out air filters, windshield wipers, etc.

5. Address Car Problems Quickly

When your car develops a problem, there will be tale-tell signs of the need for a repair. It could be that you’re noticing unusual smells or sounds, or the gears aren’t shifting as smoothly as they should. On the first sign of such issues, seek immediate help from a reputable auto repair expert. They will inspect your vehicle and inform you of the underlying car problems and solutions to prevent unexpected breakdowns requiring towing service.

6. Drive Carefully

Your driving habit greatly impacts the longevity of your car on the road. You should avoid driving over potholes as they’ll damage your vehicle suspension and tires. In the case of deeper holes, it can scrape your vehicle’s catalytic converter, resulting in a loss of power. You may also want to avoid the hard edges of poorly maintained roads, which can deflate your tire or cause sidewall bulges.

Suppose you have been a poor driver recently, and you’re noticing a deterioration in your car performance. In such a case, proper inspection from a reputable mechanic will help you find out about possible car problems and solutions to address them. If not, your tire may blow out in the middle of the road, resulting in an accident and necessitating accident towing services.

7. Keep The Lights Working Properly

Your vehicle light and horn should always work properly, as this is the only way for other drivers to see you. Checking car lighting doesn’t require technical expertise, unlike other car parts. As for the headlights, you just need to turn them on and check right ahead whether they work.

As for the brake lights, park your vehicle close to a reflective surface (near a window or another vehicle). Check whether the red light turns on from the side mirror when you step on the brake pedal. If the horn isn’t working and the lights are dim or not working, your mechanic can advise you about the underlying car problems and solutions to address them. Mostly, electrical issues are to blame for failing lights and horns.

8. Take Care of Your Vehicles Battery

A rechargeable battery provides electric current to the vehicle’s electric starting motor, which cranks up the engine and propels your vehicle. You’ll hardly deal with engine misfiring issues or engine stalling with proper battery maintenance. The first step to optimal battery performance is driving your car for 30 minutes once every week.

Doing this ensures that the battery doesn’t go flat. Admittedly, jumpstarting your car helps solve this problem. However, it puts too much strain on the battery and can even damage the engine management system.

If you have an electric car, charging it in frigid weather isn’t advisable. Doing this can shorten or damage the battery lifespan, particularly if you park your vehicle outside instead of inside the garage. So, before your electric vehicle charge, drive around for a few minutes so the car can warm up.

9. Clean Your Car Regularly

Frequent car cleaning plays a huge role in improving the functionality of your vehicle. The excessive accumulation of dirt will deteriorate your vehicle’s paint job. Over time, rust will build up on the body, affecting important internal components and reducing your vehicle’s performance. The exhaust tailpipe is likely to experience the greatest damage from rust.

Suppose you don’t properly clean your car, and your vehicle isn’t operating as it should. In that case, you should visit a mechanic for advice on possible car problems and solutions to fix them. Remember that cleaning your car at least once or twice a week is advisable, depending on your usage and where you live.

It may also be necessary to clean your vehicle undercarriage more frequently during winter, especially if you live in areas that experience heavy snow during winter. This will prevent the excessive build-up of rust that may be detrimental to your vehicle’s components and performance. Don’t use a stiff brush that may leave scratches on the car’s exterior when cleaning the car.

It is also important to avoid using harsh cleaning solutions and dry your vehicle with a soft towel. Keeping the vehicle interior clean is equally important. While at it, use a protective spray for the dashboard plastics, as it minimizes the likelihood of discoloration and cracking.

In addition to cleaning, consider window tinting to prevent UV light from damage, such as dashboard cracking which exposes internal car parts to the risk of damage.

10. Make Fewer Short Trips

Using your car for short trips, especially 10 minutes or less, can cause excessive wear and tear to your vehicle. Short drives don’t allow the vehicle engine to reach optimal operating temperatures. Among the by-products of engine combusting is water, and it mostly escapes from the vehicle’s tailpipe as it runs.

If you take shorter trips, water is retained in the car engine, creating a conducive environment for the buildup of rust. A further issue with condensation and moisture is that it dilutes your oil, which doesn’t do a great job lubricating your engine. When you notice that your engine isn’t operating as it should after several short trips, an experienced auto technician can advise you on possible car problems and solutions besides changing the oil.

11. Don’t Overload Your Vehicle

Extra weight on your vehicle affects its proper operation as it stresses vital components like the suspension and brakes. Quick action will help you avoid dealing with car problems and solutions that will cost you a lot of money. Depending on how you use your car, ensure that you remove any unnecessary items.

You should also know that car manufacturers are looking for ways to minimize their vehicle weight to keep fuel consumption down and meet the emission requirement. So, in addition to helping you avoid costly repair bills adhering to your car’s carrying capacity will help you save on fuel costs.

12. Avoid Modifying Your Vehicle

Most people are tempted to modify their vehicles to increase their resale value. However, this can negatively impact their overall functionality. Modifications put a lot of strain on vehicle components like the brakes, especially if you’re driving faster. Another downside to modification is that insurers may not offer compensation when seeking auto insurance services. Many insurers consider out-of-factory modification to have lower safety, increasing drivers’ exposure to liability.

13. Work With a Trustworthy Mechanic

To keep your vehicle in great shape for longer, ensure that you choose a trustworthy auto repair technician. Your vehicle will need regular maintenance and repairs, and by working with a mechanic with expertise in servicing your car brand, you’ll experience fewer issues. So, if you own a Volvo, you’ll get the best Volvo car repair services from experts who mainly deal with European cars.

When you find the right expert, let them know you’re looking for a long time commitment with them. Doing this motivates them to carefully inspect your vehicle to find the root cause of your car problems and the best solutions.

14. Take Care of the Windshield and Wipers

You should keep your windshield free from cracks and chips. As soon as such damages happen, seek immediate repairs. If dents are left unchecked, they’ll widen, obstructing your visibility on the road.

You should also ensure that your windshield wipers are working as they should, as it helps maximize your vision. Changing the windscreen wipers every three to six months is necessary based on where you live and how regularly you drive. If not, you’ll suffer windshield damage while the metal from the wipers is being dragged across.

Final Thoughts

As a vehicle owner, you should familiarize yourself with your car before performing regular maintenance. The owner’s manual is a valuable resource that includes important information about vehicle maintenance recommendations and instructions on performing basic tasks like replacing the air filter and changing the oil. While using the services of a professional auto repair technician is necessary, learning basic skills like replacing the transmission fluid or oil change will help you make significant savings on your repairs.

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