Owner abuse and lack of maintenance play major roles in car breakdowns, but good maintenance does help considerably. Remember this simple formula: Good driving + preventive maintenance = dependability. You must be aware that some vehicles will cost more to maintain properly. It is very important that you know up front what it is going to cost to own and maintain the car you are considering buying.
1.Driving with badly maintained brakes
The most important part of your brake system, in most cases, is the most neglected: the brake fluid. This fluid should be replaced every two years, as it attracts moisture. Most automotive manufacturers do not have a replacement interval for this fluid, which is kind of scary.
Brake pads should be inspected annually for freedom of movement. If the brake pads do not move freely in the brackets, as they are designed to, this can cause your brakes to overheat. This is especially not good if your brake fluid has a high content of moisture in it. When the brake pads are stuck in the brackets, it is like driving around with your foot on the brake pedal. Needless to say, this does not help your fuel mileage at all!
2.Buying cheap tires
The most important thing between you and the road is your tires. Most people, if they are on a budget, will purchase the cheapest tires they can. Sometimes you can luck out and get a set of cheap tires that are actually round! Another common problem with cheap tires is that sometimes the steel belt is not centered perfectly within the tire. This can cause the vehicle to pull to the left or right. Oh sure, you could rotate the tires to the rear and the pulling may go away. However, the pulling will return when you rotate the tires back to the front. The only way to correct this permanently is to replace the defective tire.
3.Ignoring the bad suspension health
You should pay attention to any new noises when driving over bumps. Also, you should take notice of differences in handling characteristics when you are on the road. As you drive your car, no one will know the car like you do; you will know when something does not feel right. You should have your car looked at if something does not feel right with it, even if it just passed state inspection the month before!
4.Not replacing battery on time
A battery that tests good one day could fail the following day, if exposed to excessive heat or cold. Also, a battery that may test good could still be weak. A weak battery will cause your starter to work harder, because the battery does not have the cranking amperage that it once had. Your alternator will also have to work harder to try to replenish or keep the battery charged fully. A weak battery can cause premature failure of your starter, alternator, and other electrical components in your car. If your battery is four to five years old, I recommend that it be replaced to provide you with maximum reliability.
5.Not keeping a watchful eye on engine oil
Oil is as important to your car as blood is to your body. Unfortunately, your car can’t maintain its oil level all alone. By keeping a watchful eye on the level and cleanliness of oil in your engine, you can make sure your car runs healthy and strong for years.
6. Not Protecting The Car Paint
At least twice a year, try to use a high-quality wax on your vehicle to protect the paint. If you have a bird leave a deposit on your car, hose it off as soon as you can. This nasty stuff can burn and bake into your paint, causing permanent damage. After you wax your car and it rains on your car, you will notice that the water beads up nicely and rolls off, but not all of it does. When the sky clears and the sun comes out, these remaining beads of water are heated by the sun, acting like little magnifying glasses. They can burn little water spot circles into your paint. This can also cause permanent damage. Get yourself a drying chamois; you can purchase them at almost any parts store or department store.
7.Driving with low coolant levels
Most coolant reservoirs have a minimum and maximum level. If the reservoir is empty, this may indicate that the engine is burning up the antifreeze. If your coolant reservoir is not getting topped off, when you get your car serviced, an air pocket can form in your engine’s cooling system. When this happens, it does not allow the coolant to flow as it should. Your engine can overheat as a result, causing engine damage.
8.Using deteriorated wiper blades
If you haven’t devoted much time or energy to car maintenance, chances are you have a streaky windshield. This is usually caused by deterioration of the wiper blades due to aging and the environment. If the wipers are really damaged, metal might be scraping your windshield, in which case you should not use the wipers until you have replaced the blades. If you see your blades need changing, you should take care of it right away.
9.Using bad fuses
Every car has fuses installed in its electrical system in order to protect components from an over-current situation that could cause damage or electrical fires. A fuse’s job is to fail if too much current goes through the line for any reason. Once the fuse fails, electricity cannot get to the components in the line that are past the fuse. This ensures that having too much current on a line will only blow a fuse that costs a few cents instead of your pricey stereo system or electronic gauges. It also prevents your systems from drawing too much current and overheating, which could result in melted wires or a fire.
10.Driving with a bad axle
Next, you should drive the vehicle to a big paved parking lot that is fairly empty. Come to a complete stop and turn the steering wheel all the way to the right until the steering wheel stops. Now accelerate the vehicle and drive it in a complete circle and come to a stop. Now do the same thing, but steer the car to the left in a complete circle and come to a stop. When doing this, if you notice a loud clicking noise from the front end, it indicates that the vehicle has bad axles or bad constant velocity joints. All vehicles today with front-wheel drive have constant velocity joints, usually called CV joints for short.
Nothing lasts forever, but by following the advice given in this article, you can have your vehicle last as long as possible, while staying dependable.
Domenic is a passionate blogger and works as a distributor of Caterpillar parts in Australia.
Photo Credit: Masao Hirasawa
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