Thanks to technological advancements and mobile connectivity the world seems to be moving at a faster pace than ever before. According to a Gallup data collected from 2013 and 2014 nearly the average full-time employee works 47 hours a week. Chalk up another 3.7 hours each day spent on social media, along with all the time spent running errands, eating, sleeping, hanging out with family/friends and countless other things going on day after day…and suddenly we’re surprised when our vehicle develops an odd noise, blows out a tire or the check-engine light comes on.
Does any of this sound familiar? Don’t be too hard on yourself if it does. Life is legitimately busy and full of distractions that constantly compete for our attention, so we often adopt the mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Unfortunately, when it comes to automobiles, neglecting routine maintenance can turn into an expensive game. For example, on average, vehicles need 3-4 oil changes annually to maintain optimal engine performance. At $30 per change, we could expect to spend $90-120 per year on this service alone. If, on the other hand, we just drove the vehicle until the engine burned up (no oil changes), our $100-200 short-term savings would suddenly become either a $4,000-6,000 expense to swap out the engine or a $250 monthly payment toward a new ride. Ouch, right?
Our suggestion: If you own any type of vehicle, set aside a little time to become familiar with more than just the fuel tank. Here are 10 things you can do to help extend the life of your vehicle.
- Check the tire pressure. Most pressure gauges are the size of a pen and fit conveniently in the glove box. This 5 minute task will help your tires wear evenly, extending their useful life and giving you better stopping distances.
- Check for pooling oil and other fluids on the driveway or in the garage where you park. Really, this is a daily type of thing and doesn’t require you to do anything other than be observant.
- Pay attention to the trouble-lights. Vehicles today are set up with some pretty awesome technology that is programmed to notify you when something is not working properly. When your check-engine light or any other trouble light comes on, get it checked out by a professional asap.
- Check/Top off windshield fluid. Driver visibility is a vital component to safe driving and while we can’t speak for every windshield, ours certainly seem to collect dust, pollen and bug guts that all need to be washed off. Checking the windshield fluid should take less than 2 minutes once you know what you are looking for under the hood.
- Clean out the interior. Did you know that clean vehicles can last 25-30% longer than messy ones? Drivers who take time to de-clutter their vehicle are more likely to notice when things do not sound, smell or feel right…like having enhanced “spider senses.”
- Check your oil once a month. Even though that sticker says you don’t have to get an oil change for another 8 weeks, go ahead and check your engine oil anyway. It only takes 4-5 minutes and can let you know if your engine is burning oil or how serious a leak may be. The dipstick handle to check this is typically yellow.
- Check transmission fluid levels. Next time you go for a drive, try counting how many times your vehicle shifts gears. In order to work properly, those gears require a specific type of transmission fluid. The transmission dipstick handle is typically red and not always convenient, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic to point you in the right direction.
- Check coolant levels. Just like people, engines don’t run for very long when temperatures get too high. Metal expands when it gets hot, and at about 245 degrees Fahrenheit different parts of an engine can begin to distort. Coolant, also called anti-freeze helps to regulate temperatures inside the engine so you cave dependable performance.
- Visually inspect turn signals and other exterior lighting. External lighting doesn’t have an impact on engine performance, but it can increase your visibility to other drivers and they only take a minute or two to check.
- Give your vehicle a bath at least once a month depending on the season. Dirt, debris and especially salt buildup on your vehicle create an ideal environment for corrosion to take root. And by corrosion, we mean rust, which could easily be prevented with a 10 minute trip to the local car wash.
We’ve noticed that if these simple things don’t get put on the ‘To do’ list, they just won’t happen. So what we’re suggesting is, put down your smart phone or your tablet and take 20-30 minutes, once a week to become a little more familiar with your car, truck, Jeep, SUV, boat, motorcycle, train or whatever you drive. Social media and the internet will still be there when you get back (maybe)…and this will give you something interesting to share with all your Facebook friends. Brb gtg chk my oil, u shd chk urs 2.