You try to stay in good shape. Get as much exercise as possible, eat right kinds of foods and stretch for flexibility at every opportunity because you know that your health is not a debt you can just cancel, any time you want. Your body collects no matter what.
But what about that car that moves your body around to the furthest reaches of your local environment, with hardly a complaint? When was the last time you took the old family chariot in for a check-up? You do realize that traveling along the expressways and interstates, either by yourself or with your whole family, at speeds upwards of 65 mph, means that you’re putting a tremendous strain on your car – and entrusting you and your family’s lives to its ability to handle those incredible stresses.
Tip #1: Get a Tune-Up
The proverbial auto tune-up has changed a great deal over the course of automotive history. The term has almost become outdated by today’s standards, but is still widely used, by consumers, to describe a service procedure that’s intended to make your car’s engine run better, cleaner and provide the best mileage.
But since the invention of the crank-angle sensor, electronic ignition and the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) engine control program, the list of engine components one normally replaces at proscribed intervals has been completely overhauled. These days, mechanics perform an “engine performance analysis” when a customer complains of irregularities in a car motor’s performance.
This analysis usually identifies sensors that are no longer performing to specifications, and, just like the “tune-ups” of yesteryear, these components need to be replaced. What were “points, plugs and condenser” have become MAP, ESS, O, and MAF sensors that need to read your engine conditions accurately for it to perform at maximum efficiency. Get all of these sensors checked every 30-thousand miles, and be sure to replace them before they fail.
Tip #2: Check Your Wheel Alignment
Today’s cars have much more sophisticated suspension systems that can have as many as six different adjustments for controlling the exact positioning of each of the four wheels on your car, independently. These adjustments involve upright tire angle, or ‘camber’, and ‘toe-in’ and ‘toe out’, which control the tracking angle of the steering tires, along with ‘caster’ for determining steering angle.
The smallest deflection in these angles can affect your car’s handling in a big way. According to Service Director Jeff Rush at a top Hutchinson car repair facility, “Proper wheel alignment is vital to your car’s handling. Apart from preventing potential accidents, it minimizes severe damage as well as expensive auto repairs that improper alignment can cause.”
The bottom-line here is that, along with handling irregularities, alignment problems can make your tires wear out faster, significantly reduce your fuel mileage and cause suspension components to deteriorate. You should have an alignment performed at least once every thirty thousand miles.
Tip #3: Keep It Clean
Today’s cars are more resistant to oxidation and rust from the elements because of the sturdier paint and protection techniques that have been developed over years of research. Paint processes have transformed from one-step enamel or lacquer finishes into two, three or even four step acrylic painting techniques.
Your car’s sheet metal body is first coated with primer, then color coats and then, finally with a very hard clearcoat paint that has protective elements and resins mixed into it to protect it from ‘baking-out’ in the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light.
This is an extremely hard and durable finish but can still be weakened by a combination of dirt and grime that, when mixed with the affects of UV radiation, can break down the molecules in the surface hardeners. The more you keep the dirt and grime to a minimum, the better the clearcoat can protect. So wash your car at least once per month and the clearcoat should protect it for many years.
Tip #4: Be Gentle
Exercising sound driving habits will certainly minimize wear and tear to your vehicle. Try to refrain from jackrabbit starts, where you push the accelerator pedal almost all the way to the floor when you first accelerate from a stop. You’re not only putting tremendous strain on all of your car’s components, but you’re burning a ton of extra fuel, as well.
Also, slow down when you approach speed bumps and go over them gently – and just slow down, in general. Your car and its various components sustain much more wear at higher speeds, and over time this causes premature mechanical aging.