Some cars you really don’t have to worry about. Case-in-point: the bland, silver four-door rental. But the car you own and count on is different. After all, you have a capital investment in the thing. It wasn’t exactly cheap to buy, so it’s a no-brainer to protect it. But falling into a maintenance rut can be expensive (in some situations, really expensive). Let’s face it: Lazy never works. But here are 10 easy ways to ruin your car’s reliability by being auto-maintenance lethargic:
1. Too Little Tire Pressure
Upwards of 90 percent of all the vehicles on the road are driven with improperly inflated tires, and the majority are under-inflated. Tire pressure changes constantly. Should tire pressure be too low, friction between the road and the tire increases, overheating the tire (which usually ends in catastrophic failure). It also wastes gas.
2. Not Checking Engine Oil Level
Checking oil level should be a no-brainer. If it’s down, the engine is burning oil or leaks. Checking oil level isn’t difficult and barely takes a couple of minutes. How much trouble can it be? You’ll find it if you ignore this simple step.
3. Neglecting Fluid and Filter Changes
How many people postpone fluid and filter changes (we’re talking engine oil, engine oil filters and coolant as well)? Plenty, we’ll bet. When it comes to oil filters, the words cheap and good usually cannot be used in the same sentence. Ditto with coolant. Coolant, does, in fact, wear out.
4. Putting Off Brake Pad Replacement
Once worn, brake pads emit constant squawks and squeals. That’s your notice to getting the pads replaced ASAP. If you don’t then the rotors will eventually be destroyed (read that as expensive. Way more expensive.
5. Running the Wrong Tires During the Wrong Season
Unlike the fortunate fair-weather folks, many of us live in snow country. Proper tires are mandatory—or you won’t go far. The same applies to summer driving. Tires engineered for cold-weather use don’t last long in the summer and wear out in a heartbeat, which also translates into wasted money.
6. Burned Out Lamps
How many times do you take a walk around your car or truck and check the lights? You’re not alone. Plenty of folks neglect vehicle lights. If any bulbs are burned out, replace them immediately. Keep in mind repairs are usually easy and cheap and they could save you from an accident.
7. Overloading Your Ride
Drive down any road, in any part of the country and you’ll see an overwhelmed car or truck filled to the brim with someone’s “load” and/or yanking a trailer. All vehicles have a load placard. Check it—and if the load is too big, reduce the size or rent something more capable of handling it.
8. Forgetting Fresh Wiper Blades
Sunlight, ozone, cold weather and other factors contribute to wiper blade deterioration. Once the deterioration begins, wiper blades lose the ability to flex and flip over during use. They also crack. There’s only one fix: Replace the blades on a regular basis.
9. Driving with a Damaged Windshield
Driving with a cracked windshield is an invitation for trouble. Little cracks soon become big cracks and, before long, it’s difficult to see out of the thing. Chips can be fixed. Cracks can’t and only get bigger with time.
10. Running the Wrong Octane Gas
Plenty of drivers OD on octane. The reality is higher-than-required octane doesn’t improve mileage nor does it yield more power. It only costs you more money. Using poor quality fuel in a vehicle that calls for high-octane gas isn’t a good idea either. It can lead to outright engine failure. Use the right gas—the one your model’s manufacturer recommends. Your engine will be happier.