By most accurate records, the average new vehicle has around 10,000 parts and more computer power than it took to launch the first Apollo mission to the moon. This makes the automobile an extremely sophisticated machine. It’s also a machine most drivers often take for granted. We put the gas in. We turn on the ignition and everything runs as it should. Our vehicles are a lot like our other major appliances; we don’t really know how they operate until they break down and require maintenance
The truth is that most cars are designed to run efficiently for several years and several thousands of miles, but we have a duty to keep those 10,000 parts in proper working condition. In other words, you can’t just cross your fingers and hope the vehicle will start every time, and that every system will operate properly. There are ways we can maximize our car’s efficiency and it really doesn’t take a lot of effort. In fact, the effort expended to keep your car running will pay off in the long run if you can skip extended trips to the mechanic.
1. FOLLOW YOUR SERVICE SCHEDULE
Do you have a car’s service schedule? Yes, your motor oil these days require changed every 5,000-7,000 miles (increasing from the old 3,000 mile standby because of improvements in oil) or every six months. But what about everything else that requires upkeep? No, you won’t have to swap out 10,000 parts, but in your driver’s manual you should have a complete service schedule that should be followed religiously. Things like flushing the transmission fluid, replacing the sparkplugs, and changing belts are all included. Following that schedule will stretch out the life of your vehicle. Your trusty mechanic is well versed in these maintenance procedures, but you’ve got to dedicate the time to get the vehicle to the garage. Since programming reminders in our smartphones is available, why not program your car’s service schedule? That way you’ll never have to forget.
2. CONFIRM YOUR LEVELS OFTEN
The levels in this context would be fluids and air pressure. Just because you’re replacing your oil according to schedule doesn’t mean there won’t be an occasional issue. Your motor oil is the most important fluid the car requires. Think of it like your own body going without fluid (water). When that happens, things break down. Anyone can check the oil. Pop open the hood and pull out your oil dipstick. Don’t know where your dipstick is? Check your manual or get your mechanic to show you. There are other fluid indicators like power steering fluid and radiator levels which you should check together with the oil. Same the tire pressure. Don’t know what your tire pressure should read? It’s actually found on your tire. This fluid and air pressure check should be done atleast once a week and can be accomplished in the same amount of time it takes you to refill your car with gas, give or take a few minutes. Of course, if any of the fluids are low don’t wait to fill them up.
3. PLACE YOUR CAR ON A DIET
You know exactly when you have added a few extra pounds. Usually, it’s right after the holiday binge. How do you know? The pants are tighter and it’s harder to climb those stairs. What do you do? Cut back on the sweets and visit the gym. The same with your car. If it’s carrying around extra pounds you’re going to force the engine to work harder. This doesn’t mean you can’t load up and haul things. Just don’t keep them in the vehicle. Unloading extra weight will reduce engine strain and help you to keep driving along. Anything you don’t need to haul around in the trunk should be removed, and every pound helps.
4. GIVE A LITTLE LISTEN
One of the biggest selling features on a vehicle is the sound system. Thanks to iPod plug-ins and satellite radio we’ve got an abundance of options for music and talk. However, you might want to drive in silence every so often just to make sure there aren’t any funny noises that require attention. Turn off the radio and go for a couple of miles listening to the sounds your vehicle makes. That repetitive clicking noise could be a nail in your tire. The grinding when you come to a stop could show it’s time for new brakes. Given the chance, your vehicle will tell you a lot.
5. DON’T DRIVE
Although this sounds counterintuitive, the best option to maintain your vehicle is to cut back on your driving. Whenever possible walk to your destination, car pool, or take public transportation. When you do drive, drive gently. Don’t pound on the brakes or rev the engine. That puts a strain on the system and lowers your MPG at the same level
This might all look like a no-brainer, but when we take things for granted we forget about the simplest measures to maintain quality. Be good to your vehicle, and it will be good to you!