Cars Are People Too
By: Technical Editor, AJ Huffines
Being a mechanic I always get asked, “What’s the key to keeping a car and making it last”. Its simple, treat your car as you would treat yourself. If you take care of your body, your body will take care of you. It’s the same principal for vehicles. A clean and maintained vehicle is a happy vehicle. The older you get in life you find it takes a little longer to do things, and you have to take it easier on yourself. Vehicles are no different, the more miles they get, the more care they need. Do you take of running when you first wake up? You have to ease into the day, so treat your vehicle the same way. Let it warm/loosen up before you pour the coal to it. Vehicles are vocal and will let you know when something isnt right. When it starts talking to you, don’t ignore it, listen. Here’s a few things to keep in mind to keep your vehicle happy.
Oil, the life blood of the engine.
Check your oil regularly. Oil leaks can lead to catastrophic effects. If there’s no blood in engine, it wont live very long, just like a person. Staying up on oil change intervals is often over looked, but important to maintaining a healthy car. Think of dirty oil as cholesterol for your car, if its not flowing good bad things can happen. Me personally, I stick with the old 3,000 miles or 3 months rule for oil change. May be a little over kill but id rather do it early than too late. Oil breaks down overtime even if you don’t put a lot of miles on your vehicle.
Tires, the shoes of your car.
Tires are very important for keeping a vehicle safe. It not only effects the handling of the vehicle but also the brakes. Have you ever tried to run or stop with a wore out pair of shoes? You won’t get very far until you slip and fall. So check your tires often.
- Tread depth is important to keep your tires performing well. Check your tread depth. If you don’t have a tread depth gauge you can use good ole Abraham Lincoln. Take a penny and turn it upside down to where Lincolns head is going into the tread. If it covers his head then your still above 2/32” of depth which is the absolute minimum.
- Proper inflation is important in maintaining tire life along with keeping the vehicle safe. How much tire pressure should you run? Simple, almost all of your vehicles will have a sticker on the inside door jam of drivers door. Here you will find the gross vehicle weight along with the manufactures recommended tire pressure for the vehicle.
- Check your tires age. Many people don’t know this but your tires birthday is stamped in the side wall. It’s a 4 digit number and indicates the week and year it was made. The first two numers are the week, and the last two are the year.
Brakes are safety item that needs to be checked. Stopping your car is essential, if your brakes don’t do it something else will which is what you don’t want. Brakes have a wear indicator built into the pad. It’s a metal tab that will hit the rotor and squeal to let you know “Hey its time to change me”. Listen for any strange noises, vibrations, or pulling to one side. If you feel a vibration in steering wheel when braking its coming from the front. If you feel it in your butt, it’s the back.
Steering and Suspension
Steering and suspension are key to keeping your vehicle stable on the road. It wears over time, and loses the ability to keep you planted on the road. You don’t want to Dukes of Hazard it when you hit a bump. Any odd noises turning or hitting a bump is your vehicle telling you something isnt right. Pay attention to the way your vehicle steers. Make sure it drives straight and doesn’t pull to one side.
Make sure your vehicle is properly tuned up. If it can’t breathe or fart properly it wont perform as it should. It’s like running a marathon breathing through a straw on one lung dragging a weight behind you. Your fuel mileage will suffer and will lead to more problems done the road. It’s always better to be pro-active rather than re-active. Changing your air filter, spark plugs, plug wires, fuel filter, and even oxygen sensors will keep your engine running at its optimum.