A car is an expensive investment, and it is a vital part of getting you where you need to go. Part of the expenses that go along with owning a car is proper caring for it. If you are not an experienced mechanic, you may be confused about what to do and what not to do when it comes to car maintenance. Learning a few of the common mistakes to avoid however, can save you plenty of time, money and hassle.
Failing to Check Tyre Pressure
Most people do not keep an eye on their tyre pressure unless they notice the tyre getting low. While avoiding a flat tyre is reason enough to check the tyre pressure on a regular basis, the fact that it can improve your fuel economy makes it even more important. Having under-inflated tyres can increase petrol use. This can also lead to more wear, which results in replacing tyres more frequently.
Not Getting Regular Oil Changes
While some new cars do not need oil changes every 4 800 km, you should never go more than 12 500 to 16 000 km between changes. After this many kilometres, the oil begins to break down and can damage your engine. While oil changes are not always cheap, they sure beat replacing the engine.
Failing to Check the Brakes
Brakes are a vital part of ensuring your car is safe for the road, but if you do not have them checked periodically, you run the risk of the brakes wearing down completely and failing you. Once the pads wear down to a certain point, the rotors become damaged, which will cost you more in the long run. Keeping an eye on the condition of the pads is always your best bet.
Not Knowing the Basics
Knowing how to make small repairs to your vehicle can save plenty of money that you would normally spend at the local repair shop. Some of the things you can learn include how to jumpstart a car, how to change a tyre, how to check the fluid levels and how to check tyre pressure.
Not Checking Your Fluids
Checking the fluids in a vehicle is vital to ensuring it runs right. If any of the fluids get low, it can hinder performance and possibly cause safety issues. A thorough check does not end with the oil. Check the transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid and coolant levels on a regular basis. If you are continuously topping any of these off, it might be a good idea to get the vehicle checked by a mechanic.
Not Replacing the Air Filter
Air filters are in place to collect dust, dirt and debris. When an air filter becomes clogged completely, it can cause your car to run rough, or in the worst case, not start at all. Air filters are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, so when you have your oil changed, ask for a new one.
Attempting Major Fixes on Your Own
There are basic fixes every car owner should know. However, there are major fixes that requires the proper tools and lots of car knowledge. If you are facing one of these major repairs, having a certified mechanic do it can save money, especially if you will have to end up paying them anyway.
Buying Generic Parts
In some cases, purchasing generic parts can save tons of money. When it comes to your car though, you need to ensure those generic parts are going to hold up as well as name brand ones. Even if the generics are cheaper, replacing them more often than you would brand name parts can really add up, making them more expensive in the long run. Do a cost comparison before purchasing any vehicle parts and accessories.
Ignoring Check Engine Lights
Some check engine lights come on for very minor issues. There are other times when the light comes on and indicates a serious problem. Because it is impossible to tell sometimes what the issue is, you should always have the engine light diagnosed to see if the repair needs to take place immediately. Ignoring the light when a serious problem is present can cost you.
Driving While Overheating
An overheating vehicle is a serious problem and if not taken care of, it can lead to serious engine damage. If the vehicle is overheating, pull over immediately and check the coolant level after the car cools down. Determining the cause of the low coolant levels is necessary to prevent more problems. Having a mechanic check the radiator and other coolant system components might just end up saving you from having to replace the engine.
Car maintenance can be expensive, but there are ways you can save. Doing regular checks and learning how to make minor repairs yourself not only keeps your car up and running, but it keeps more money in your pocket as well.