Have records available on everything you do to
maintain your car ? and keep them in the car if possible. Well-kept records can
be instrumental in correctly diagnosing a vehicle problem the first time.
Incomplete records can lead to redundant auto repairs that waste your time and
money. A vehicle with a well-documented repair service history also tells, that
you value first-rate work at the recommended intervals, and have done your part
to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.
Whenever parts need to be replaced, be sure to request genuine OEM components rather than generic pieces. Maintaining exact manufacturer specifications is important in achieving optimum performance. The low-price allure of aftermarket parts often prompts customers to forgo OEM quality, but spending the extra dollars on factory-approved equipment now can make a big difference down the road, especially in terms of vehicle longevity.
If you are in the habit of leaving loose items on top of the dash, you may want to reconsider the practice. Should the passenger-side airbag deploy in a collision, a loose item in the path of an exploding airbag could aggravate injuries. For the same reason, clean junk out from under the seats and in the trunk. Leaving heavy, unsecured items like an old battery in the trunk is a bad idea. In a collision an old battery that is stored in the trunk can become a projectile, crashing through the rear seatback and injuring rear seat occupants.
· Do not race your car's engine during start-up.This is a quick way to add years of wear to your engine, especially if it's cold outside. Accelerate slowly when you begin your drive.The most wear to the engine and drive train occurs in the first ten to twenty minutes of operation.
· When turning your steering wheel, don't hold it in an extreme right or left position for more than a few seconds. Doing so can damage the power-steering pump or steering STOPS.
· Ask whether the gas you buy is filtered at the pump and if the station has a policy about changing the pump filters regularly. If you get a song and dance, find another gas station. Some stations don't have pump filters, making you more vulnerable to dirty gasoline. Other stations may not mix alcohol and fuel properly ? or worse, water down their product. Find a station you trust and stick to it. This practice could prevent costly repairs to fuel injected systems.
· When stuck in mud or snow, don't make the problem worse by damaging an expensive component in your vehicle. Gently rocking forward and back in an attempt to free the car is fine. But if it looks as though you're really stuck, don't keep at it. Throwing your car from forward to reverse repeatedly, as well as spinning tires at high speeds, can generate lots of heat and spell trouble for transmissions, clutches, and differentials. It may be cheaper in the long run to call the tow truck rather than risk big repair bills down the road. It's a good idea to carry a traction aid in the trunk, such as sand, gravel, or cat litter.
If you are not going to use your car for more than a month, store it properly to prevent unnecessary damage and repairs upon your return.
· Fill the gas tank to help prevent condensation from accumulating in the tank. Add a fuel stabilizer and drive the car around a bit to distribute the additive.
· Wash and wax the car thoroughly to protect the finish.
· Place a vapor barrier on your garage floor. A 4-mil polyethylene drop cloth will do.
· Disengage the parking brake to help avoid brake corrosion.
· Put the car on jack stands to take the weight of the vehicle off the wheels and tires.
· Place the battery on a trickletype charger.
· Plug the tailpipe with a rag to prevent moist air from getting into it.
· Inspect wheel-well splashguards
These guards, however flimsy on many of today's cars, help keep water and winter's salty slush from splashing up into the engine and wheel well compartment, where it can damage sensitive electrical components. Unfortunately, these guards tear off easily ? sometimes without the driver knowing it. Check for damage to these guards when you wash your car. Re-secure with the appropriate fasteners or replace as needed. As added protection from splashed-up muck, slush, and debris, install mud flaps (also called splash guards) on your vehicle.
· Give your car a new skin
New self-adhering urethane films have been developed to protect the most vulnerable painted areas on your car from stone chips and other minor abrasions. You can wash and wax these surfaces, just as you would the rest of the paint job. While it's best to have these films professionally installed, you can peel them off yourself.
· Don't forget to flush
Coolant-antifreeze eventually degrades and becomes contaminated. Flush it from your cooling system as recommended in your owners manual.. Failing to do so can damage your radiator, clog your heater core, and cause the thermostat and water pump to fail
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