The Tips BankTips to make your vehiclego the distanceAdapted from "Drive the Best..."© 2001 by Kyle BuschIf you are living on a budget, or even on an unlimited budget,you know how important it is to make the most of what youhave.Getting More Miles Out of Your CarThe following are some tips that will help you to get more milesout of your vehicle.- First, consider, does your vehicle actually have theability to run many miles without incurring costlyrepairs? An easy way to find out is to visit a publiclibrary to consult the frequency- of-repair informationin the April magazine issue of Consumer Reports.If the vehicle that you are driving has a reasonablerepair history, it is worthwhile to drive it until yourheart is content. However, if it has a very poor repairhistory, it might be time to consider buying avehicle that has better ratings, and fuel efficiency.- Assuming that you want to extend the life of yourvehicle, at the beginning of each month, have theengine oil level checked to make certain that it isat the full-level mark on the dipstick. Today'sengines have extremely close tolerances thusmaking liberation as impotent as ever. This isapparent when marquee names such as Porscheand BMW are building engines with multiple oilpumps to insure engine liberation regardless of ifthe vehicle is charging up a steep hill or throwninto a banked turn. Buy two liters of oil that areon sale and keep them in the boot. Then, if theengine needs oil, you will not get stuck payingthree times what the oil should cost.Note: Be certain to only use the type of oil and otherfluids as specified in the vehicle owner's manual. If youneed assistance to understand the owner's manual, visitthe dealership that sells your make of vehicle, and writedown the type of oil and other fluids to be used in yourvehicle.- Every three months (more often, however, if specifiedby your vehicle owner's manual) and before leaving forand upon returning from a trip, check (or have a servicestation attendant check) the tire pressure and the otherfluids that include:
- Transmission fluid
- Brake fluid
- Power steering fluid
- Radiator coolant (check the clear plastic bottle)
- Windshield washer fluidBe certain to observe what the service station attendantdoes and ask questions, because you can likely checkthese items.Why is it so important to keep the fluids at their full-levelmarks? Because the fluids lubricate moving parts toreduce fiction, heat, and wear. Therefore, If a part wearsbecause of a lack of fluid, providing all the fluid in futurewill not repair the damaged part.- If you drive 16,000 km (10,000 miles) or more peryear, have the engine oil and oil filter changed every4,800 to 5,600 km (3,000 to 3,500 miles) or aboutevery four months. If you drive 9,600 km (6,000miles) or less per year, have the engine oil and oil filterchanged at the beginning of spring and near the end offall. Condensation (water) will build-up in the oil of acar that is sitting. Therefore, even if the vehicle is onlydriven a few thousand miles per year, the oil shouldbe changed in the spring and in the fall. An easy wayto remember oil changes is to mark a new calendarat the beginning of a year with "oil change" reminders(i.e., March, July, and November or May andNovember).Note: Service stations run specials in the newspaperfor oil changes (i.e., $10.99 - $13.99 (UK Pounds 9.50 - 10.00 )).However, make certain that the station is reputable.Some service stations have been known to skipchanging the oil or to do part of the job by changingthe oil but not the oil filter. Consider using a blackmarker to put an X on the oil filter after an oil change.When the next oil change has been completed, a newlyinstalled filter should not include an X.- Before the cold of winter sets in, have a service stationattendant check the antifreeze in the clear plastic coolantbottle with a hydrometer (a device that takes a sample ofantifreeze and specifies how cold the temperature canbecome before the antifreeze freezes). The antifreeze inyour vehicle should be able to withstand (i.e., not freeze)temperatures of at least 17 Celsius (30 degrees) "belowthe coldest" winter temperature.Note: There should be no cost to have the antifreezechecked with a hydrometer. If the antifreeze in yourvehicle is too weak, have additional antifreeze addedto the coolant bottle. Antifreeze can be purchased atmany department stores. Purchase the type of antifreezeas specified in the vehicle owner's manual (i.e., usually atype that is suitable for "aluminum and all types of metals"that are used today's engines).Why is it important for the antifreeze not to freezeduring the winter? Because frozen antifreeze can crackan engine's block which could result in possibly thousandsof pounds for the repair.- If you drive over 10,000 miles (16,000 km) per year,have the engine air filter changed once a year in thespring. If you drive about 6,000 miles (9,600 km) orless per year, have the engine air filter changed onceevery two years. Note: Discount stores sometimes runsales on vehicle air filters. If necessary, ask the clerkwho works in the auto department to help you to lookup the number (remember to write it down for futurereference) of the correct air filter for your specificvehicle (take the vehicle owner's manual with you intothe store to reference the size of the engine, but becertain that you do not forget it and thus leave thestore without it).- In the spring and the fall give the vehicle a thoroughwash, tar removal, and wax. When washing the vehiclein-between the seasonal waxes, use a car wash productthat is safe for clear coat and waxed finishes.- Basic vehicle maintenance is an ongoing process.The secret to making it "easy" and keeping a vehicle"looking great" involves two components. First,maintaining regular vehicle involvement and second,only doing a little at a time.Each week throughout the year (in addition to themaintenance suggested above) take only about10-15 minutes to focus on a small aspect of thevehicle. For example, one week wash the windows.The next week, vacuum the carpet, and the followingweek, treat the dash and the door panels etc.,etc. After about three months, one of the "small jobs"will be ready to be repeated. However, the vehiclewill never be in rough shape. Doing a "small butthorough" job on one specific aspect of the vehicleeach week, requires very little time or energy. Havinga vehicle that continually "looks great" makes itworthwhile.The tips provided above are the most basic maintenancerequirements that will help your vehicle to run longer.Remember to reference the vehicle owner's manual forany additional maintenance required on your vehicle.Basic vehicle maintenance involves a minimal investment oftime and money, but it can provide major benefits in vehicleperformance and lower repair costs. Additionally, your vehiclewill be in better condition when it becomes time to sell.Buy the book. Kyle's book, "Drive the Best..." is the source of these articles and many of the invaluable motoring tips to be found on our Websites. Saving money, improving reliability and having a more attractive automobile are just some of the things you can have if you read and apply some of the gems found in his book.
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