So you finally purchased a new car. Now what? Unfortunately, for many car owners, that question never gets answered. Bad maintenance habits alarmingly depreciate the value of cars. Not to mention, purchasing a car, especially if opting for a new car, generally falls second only to a home in investment purchases. However, waiting for something to go wrong on a car before examining it makes it one of the worst investments a consumer can make. Here are a few signs that you’re sending your vehicle six feet under:
Not Performing Oil Checks and Changes
Oil changes are a relatively cheap security measure for your car, ranging anywhere between ten to forty dollars, with many auto repair shops offering frequent discounts or coupons. However, one of the most common and costliest mistakes drivers make is to extend an oil change past the recommended date. The ultimate guide to reference is your owner’s manual, which provides exact mileage or monthly estimates for oil changes. Ignoring the manual’s guidelines could mean permanent engine damage, and replacing an engine often straddles the cost line of replacing the car entirely.
Beyond regular oil changes, checking oil level every few weeks also proves essential for damage control. If you notice your engine is burning up or losing oil rapidly, you should immediately take your car to a mechanic. Engines require lubrication, and a dried out engine either from worn out oil or low oil is a surefire way to ruin a car.
Ignoring Brake Damage
If braking emits a loud squeal, there’s definitely a problem. To be precise, it’s time to replace your disc-brake pads. Worn brake pads make driving dangerous through lowered effectiveness while enabling rotor damage from the friction. Replacing brake pads can cost up to $250. Most pads last about 20-25,000 miles. When you take your car for tire rotation (important for full tread life), ask the mechanic to check your brake pads, as well.
Not Checking Tire Pressure
Another place where your owner’s manual comes in handy is for tire pressure checking rates. Tires potentially lose a few pounds of pressure a month so it’s advised to check tires each month, and even check earlier than the owner manual’s recommended check times. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your car at all times, and especially check prior to any long trips.
Low tire pressure not only causes dangerous blowouts, requiring a new tire purchase, but decreases fuel economy, shortens a tire’s lifespan, and inhibits handling.
Driving in Grime
It’s easy for dirt, salt, and the natural elements to erode the finish of a car, once again compromising the car’s value quickly. Besides a necessary paint job, dirt affects visibility and clogs or deteriorates window seals, sometimes causing internal flooding. If you don’t want to spend money on a car wash, invest in a good car sponge and soap from an auto retail store to self-clean your vehicle at least once every month or as needed.
The interior requires just as mention hygienic attention. Leaving garbage and food wrappers in a car allow for fungi and insect breeding. Opt for a detailing job bi-weekly or monthly or wipe down, lather, and vacuum the interior yourself. It’s an easy practice that ensures a pleasant driving environment and maintains a higher selling value.
Whether chalking it up to first-time ownership, or simply forgetting car needs in the tangle of daily multiple responsibilities, it’s essential not to let car maintenance fall to the wayside. Keep your car’s value high and make the most of what you pay for transportation.