If auto repair bills are building up and you’re thinking about selling your car because it’s on its last leg, you may want to consider why it’s falling apart before you buy a new ride and start a new round of trips to the shop.
Now nobody expects a “new” car to develop problems right away and if it does it’s usually covered by a warranty. However, there are certain driving behaviors that can hasten a mechanical failure, even a catastrophic failure, before you’ve made the last payment.
For a lot of us, “out of sight, out of mind” is our approach to vehicle maintenance. You can see when a tire is flat, or somebody put a new ding in a fender and you can feel when the car is pulling to the right or the brakes are mushy but if there isn’t some kind of physical or monetary stimulus many of us will not consider the health of the car’s components.
Check out the list below and see if you are guilty of a driving style or “auto abuse” that can lead to damaging your car.
- Parking Brake. Unless you are parking on a pancake flat surface you should engage the parking brake before you turn the engine off. If you are on any kind of incline you’ll feel the car roll a bit and then go clunk when you turn off the engine. What’s happened is the entire weight of the auto is now being supported by the transmission. Using the parking brake (a simple task) gives the transmission a break allowing it to perform better and longer. Not a big deal but like most of these items it takes its toll over time.
- Riding the brake. If you are one of those people that drive with one foot on the brake and one on the accelerator you are not only putting undue pressure, stress and heat on the brake pads and drums but you are dangerously frustrating the people behind you. Don’t be surprised when you hear the squeal of a worn pad and the mechanic says he can’t turn the drums because they are worn out.
- Hard stops. Are you the kind of driver who just has to be first in line at the next red light? If you routinely wait until the last possible moment to brake you are doing a number on your braking system, shocks and greatly enhance the opportunity to be rear-ended. Production cars are not designed for extreme performance; that’s what aftermarket products like Big Brake and super stiff suspension systems are for.
- Neglecting you fluids. Did you know the average vehicle uses six types of fluids (excluding fuel)? Each of these relatively cheap fluids is essential to the operation of some very expensive components including the engine, transmission, power steering, cooling system, brakes and differential. If the fluid fails the component can fail and that can be a very costly repair. The takeaway is to change the fluids at the recommended mileage intervals.
- Tires, poor old tires. You know when they are flat but do you know if they are properly inflated, unevenly worn, suffering from dry rot or the depth of the tread. Unless you are testing the pressure on a regular basis and having a mechanic inspect them at tire rotation time (every other oil change) the answer is probably no. Your tires get enough abuse from Mother Nature, don’t add to it.
If you found these tips helpful be sure to check out the blog at Broken Vehicles for more interesting info on owning an auto.