Neglecting the Tires
You probably think little about your car’s tires on a day to day basis. As long as you don’t have an obvious flat, checking the tire pressure is likely the last thing on your mind as you head out to work or school. Yet even a fairly low tire can look normal at a glance. Low tire pressure drastically reduces fuel economy and greatly increases the risk of a blowout, so it is important to check your tire pressure at least once per month. This is especially important in wintry weather, as tires lose one to two pounds of pressure for every 10-degree F drop in ambient temperature.
Even worse, some people ignore their TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) light. This warning system lets you know when a tire’s pressure has dropped below safe limits. You must drive slowly but safely to a nearby gas station with an air hose. Check the air pressure and add air if needed. If your TPMS light illuminates but your tires are fine, you may need a new TMPS sensor.
Skipping Oil Changes and Fluid Checks
Although some manufacturers are now recommending longer intervals between oil changes, 3,000 miles is still an excellent rule of thumb. Old, dirty oil breaks down, leaving sludge in your engine that can cause costly damage. Likewise, running out of oil will cause the engine to seize, forcing you to pay for an expensive replacement.
Having your oil changed every 3,000 miles also allows your auto technician to check the other fluids in a timely manner. From transmission fluid to engine coolant, your car relies on its fluids for proper operation. Likewise, having your tires rotated at every oil change ensures even wear and allows your auto technician to inspect the tires for any unusual wear patterns. The small investment of time and money for regular oil changes can save you literally thousands of dollars in the long run.
Driving with a Known Problem
If your car seems to be handling normally, it can be awfully tempting to keep driving after you are alerted to a problem. Overheating and an illuminated Check Engine light seem to be the most common problems for drivers to ignore, but this can be a costly mistake. If your engine is overheating, it is crucial to pull over right away and let it cool. Once the engine is cool, you can try to determine the source of the problem and get it under control enough to get to a repair shop, or simply call a tow truck.
An illuminated Check Engine light could mean many things, but is often an early warning sign of a potentially serious problem. Although the car might be running fine now, continuing to drive with the light on could lead to extensive repairs. Take the car in for service as soon as possible.
Cars have gotten progressively more complex in recent years, thanks to sophisticated onboard computer systems. Although those with some basic knowledge can still perform minor repairs, such as changing spark plugs or topping off fluids, DIY service is extremely difficult without specialized diagnostic equipment, tools, and knowledge. Rather than guessing at what might be wrong, take your car to a trusted professional. The peace of mind is priceless.
Proper maintenance is vital for preventing expensive and time-consuming car repairs, but navigating the ins and outs of keeping your car maintained can be confusing. Take your auto technician’s advice, be careful to avoid these rookie mistakes, and never be afraid to question anything you don’t understand.
If you are tired of getting the runaround and being treated like you haven’t got a clue, we invite you to try Colchin Automotive
instead. Give us a call at 303-431-5421 for all of your automotive needs!