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.