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Car Maintenance Tips – tire rotation, radiator flushes and more!

March 18, 2010 · 29 comments

in Car/Driving, Misc Tips

If you are like me, you take your car for granted.  That is, until something goes wrong.

A few years ago, I was trying to go up a small hill in my subdivision after a snowstorm, and I got stuck.  I was so surprised, because my car was only 18 months old, so I never thought the tires would be a problem for the winter. I went to my local Discount Tire store, and lo and behold, my tires were garbage.  Of course, manufacturers tires are not always the best, but I figured I should get more miles out of my tires than I did.  The salesman pointed out all the uneven wear on my tires, and I realized that I had not even rotated my tires once since I got the car.  I got stuck buying four tires and it didn’t have to be that way!   I was so mad at myself because we originally decided to lease the car with the intent of not having to pay for things like new tires (it was a 2 year lease).  It was on that day I swore I would get my tires rotated whenever I got my oil changed, and I have stuck to it ever since.  I have to say it has made a difference in my tires too.

Besides rotating your tires with every oil change (or every other oil change if you get an oil change at 3000 miles), there are a few other things you can do to extend the life of your car.

1.  Most of the stress on your car occurs in the first few minutes of driving.  So if the store isn’t far away, plan ahead and walk instead.  Or, try to combine your short trips together in one long trip.

2.  Flush that radiator.  It isn’t something you have to do often, every 2 years or so.  (This varies greatly, so check your owners manual.)  If the system is not flushed and it needs to be, a lot of damage can be done to the water pump, radiator, and heater core.  I know I personally never want to be stuck  on the side of the expressway with steam pouring out from the hood.  I had enough of that when I was a kid.

3.  Its a little late for this tip, but remember it when November rolls around:  Run your Air Conditioner a few times during the winter.  This will keep the parts in the compressor from seizing up.  I found this out a year ago when I turned on my AC on a hot spring day only to get warm air blowing in my face.

4.  Keep that car clean, especially in the winter months!  I know how frustrating it is to get a nice car wash and then end up with a salt-white car (literally) the next day because an inch of snow fell.   But, that salt and slush mess is exactly what causes rust.  Now that it is getting nicer out, get out there and spray that undercarriage and inside the wheel wells.  Get the floor mats out and wash the salt out of them (or mud, or whatever the winter brings you).

5.  Park your car in a covered garage or the shade whenever possible.  Sunlight is terrible for paint and causes it to fade.

6.  If you buy your car at the dealership, see if there is touch-up paint you can buy for your car right then and there.  That way, if you get a small nick or scratch one day, you can address it immediately.  If you wait to fix that scratch or ding until you remember to make that special trip to get the paint, you may end up with a nice stripe of rust.

7.  If you can afford it, consider having a professional perform most maintenance tasks.  They have all the tools and experience.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

S April 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

Kris, I am shocked that you rotate your tires every oil change. I try to have mine changed about every third or fourth oil change (which is longer than I should go since 6000 – 7500 is recommended for most and I go around 9,000 – 12,000). I don’t rotate mine everytime because my dealership charges and it gets expensive on top of the oil change and other maintenance. I drive about 3,000 miles a month, so I have to have an oil change almost every month…. and yes, now that I am responsible for the car upkeep and payments and it’s not a company car, I DO change the oil instead of driving with the oil light flashing!


Mileage Correction January 10, 2011 at 4:36 pm

I always ended up leaving my tyre changes to the last minute and I too would always end up paying for it. I’d get two at a time done, front or back depending. And usually at different places so the tyres on my car were always different brands.


Brake Disc January 18, 2011 at 11:13 pm

A car owner is responsible for the well being of his/her car. It is good that you touched this subject. It is a good list. I would like to add one–check car brakes. You do not need to take the wheel out to do this. It should be visible around the wheel area. Inspect the brake discs. If you see rough spots or grooves, they will have to be replaced.

I think it is important to have that mentioned as the brakes are important for safety.


Kris January 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

This is very true, thank you for commenting. I don’t think I would have the brains to know when my brakes need to be replaced by eyeballing though, so many should probably have brake inspections done by a professional periodically.

Thanks for commenting.


Used Car For Sale June 17, 2011 at 2:46 am

Turn off the ignition if the traffic light is going to stay put for more than 30 seconds. Before this interval if you turn off your car or bike, then you would be burning more fuel than saving. Moreover, avoid riding the clutch under all circumstances except for when the situation demands it.


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