As a proud car owner, you want your vehicle to last as long as possible. In looking after it, the first rule is ‘do no harm’. Here are some blunders to avoid:
Riding your brakes down a long hill
Brake pads wear faster when they heat up, and a sure way to get them super-hot is to ride them all the way down a long hill. A better method is to alternate between braking and letting off the brake.
This is much easier on your brake pads, which won’t keep you safe if they’re worn down to nothing.
Forgetting to change your oil
This must be the most common mental lapse for car owners – leaving their oil change until the engine’s lubricant looks something like sludgy black molasses.
Old engine oil does your car no good at all, so you should change your oil as often as your car manual suggests (and this frequency varies between models). And don’t forget to change the oil filter now and then too.
Neglecting to use the parking brake
Whether you’re parked on a steep hill or reasonably flat ground, you should always use the parking brake.
Aside from obvious safety reasons, using the park brake takes the strain off your transmission – which is not designed to hold your car steady. Something as simple as getting into the habit of using your park brake can potentially add years to the life of your car.
Ignoring those funny sounds
If you let it, your car can talk to you. And if you listen carefully, you can work out what it’s trying to say. That squeak every time you open the passenger door means you need to oil the door hinges. That thumping sound can mean a loose exhaust pipe.
That whining noise can indicate a worn transmission. And that high-pitched squeal you hear when you put on the brakes is serious – it’s a sure sign your brake pads need replacing. Always listen to your car – it will often give you a clue when something isn’t working right.
Always listen to your car – it will often give you a clue when something isn’t working right.
Shifting from Reverse to Drive before you’ve come to a full stop
What’s one of the best ways to add months of unnecessary wear to your transmission within just a few seconds? It’s by being in too much of a hurry and switching from Reverse to Drive (or vice versa) while your car is still slowly moving.
You’re basically putting an incredible amount of strain on your gears by asking them to perform the same function as a brake. This can lead to a worn transmission, damaged drive shafts and sloppy suspension handling.
Putting stress on your car engine when you start it
When you start your car, you should ideally have your windscreen wipers, radio, air conditioning and any other accessories off. That way, your engine doesn’t have to work so hard to get going.
The maximum wear on a car engine occurs when you start it, so give it a break when you’re turning the ignition key. Also, don’t rev your engine to ‘warm up the car’ in winter.
This does more harm than good, because it doesn’t give the engine oil time to work its way through the system.
Instead, just idle the car normally for a minute or two before heading off. Car engines, like people, don’t respond well to quick, extreme temperature changes.
Continuing to drive when the car is overheating
Here’s the scenario: you’re driving along the road and notice your temperature gauge has climbed into ‘HOT’. You could stop right then and there and call a tow truck, but you keep driving in the hope that the car will be okay until you can get to a repair shop.
Before you know it, coolant is gushing out of the overflow tank and the engine overheats so much that the vehicle stalls and won’t go any further. So you end up having to ring a towing service anyway.
When your car suddenly overheats, stop ASAP, because the longer you keep going, the more damage you can cause and the more it will cost you.
So, it turns out you’ve got a cracked cylinder head and a blown head gasket. If you had stopped at the first sign of overheating, you might have just had to pay for the installation of a new thermostat. Instead, you end up having to pay a bill of over $1000.
The moral of the story: when your car suddenly overheats, stop ASAP, because the longer you keep going, the more damage you can cause and the more it will cost you.
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