Car Care Tips
- Add years to the life of your ignition switch by cutting down on the number of keys on your keyring. The weight of a heavy keychain or many keys can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition and eventually lead to ignition switch failure.
- Make sure to keep a checklist of all the things that need to be done to maintain your car. These little things, like topping off your fluids, checking your belts and hoses, testing your headlights and checking your oil, may seem minor but can really make a difference in the life of your car. Keep a memo pad in your console to keep track, or try an app for your phone.
- Get your car washed! This simple step can help keep the paint looking newer by removing dirt or debris from your car's surface. At this time of year, make a point to get a car wash that includes an undercarriage wash to help remove the salt mix that causes rust!
- Trust your instincts. If something smells, sounds, feels or looks funny, it's probably a good idea to get it checked. Even if it ends up being nothing, it's better to know than find out it's a serious problem in the making.
- Replace your wipers. If your blades are streaking or chattering, it's time for a new pair, because they're not going to help you when you really need them. Visibility is key for safe driving!
- Pick up the clutter! Bottles or other trash rolling around on the floor could be a safety issue if they roll under the accelerator or brake pedal. Take 5 minutes once a week to clean out trash and straighten up your vehicle.
- Drive it! One of the best things for a car is for it to be driven regularly. Excessive sitting can cause rust buildup on rotors and other parts, so make sure to take your car for a spin around the block if you haven't had a chance in a few days.
- Check your oil at every fill-up. If it's low or it's been too long between changes, you could cause serious damage to your car. Check with your service advisor or your owner's manual to find your recommended oil change interval.
- Take a minute to check the due dates on your inspection, registration and insurance policy. These dates are easy to let slip since they only happen once a year. Add them into your calendar to make sure you don't miss them!
- Make sure your tires have enough air! Keeping your tires at their proper inflation helps improve your gas mileage and extend the life of your tires.
- Don't ignore your check engine light. If it's on, there is a reason, and not paying attention could lead to more serious damage down the road. Having a check engine light scanned is a quick process, well worth making sure your car gets the life it deserves.
- Keep your interior clean. Take 5 minutes to wipe the dash, console, cupholders and door handles. You can do this with your normal cleaning products and a rag, or you can get some of the pre-moistened car care wipes to keep right in the car.
- Watch out for potholes, especially this time of year. Hitting a pothole at the wrong speed, or any pothole if it's too big or too deep, can cause serious wheel and tire issues, including flats and blowouts. Slow down and try to avoid them as much as possible.
- Invest in a good set of summer and winter floor mats. These keep dirt, debris, water, mud, snow, ice, salt and other things off your carpet and keep your car looking new longer.
- Take the time to put together an emergency kit for your vehicle. Include things like a tire pressure gauge, extra bottled water, granola bars and a blanket.
- If you have pets, make sure to protect your seats, leather and trim, using blankets or other products. If your dog doesn't ride well, consider a kennel or harness that attaches to a seatbelt - this will help prevent accidents due to distraction and keeps you and your pet safe in case of an accident.
- Check your air filter! It's designed to keep dust and dirt out of your engine, and at this time of year, it can get particularly dusty or clogged with the debris from winter drying up and becoming airborne. A clean air filter can help improve the performance of your vehicle and can help gas mileage.
- Clear out your trunk! Not only does clutter kicking around keep you from putting things in it when you need the space, but it can also decrease your gas mileage from extra weight. Take a few minutes to clean out any items you don't need.
- If possible, try to keep your car parked in a garage or in a cool, shady place when possible. Leaving it in the sun can expose the paint to the environment and cause it to wear faster.
- Try to run the air conditioner and the heater in their respective off seasons for a few minutes at a time. This keeps the systems moving and functioning smoothly.
- Vacuum regularly. Carrying salt and dirt into your vehicle's carpet could cause rust to the frame from the inside out. Take a few minutes regularly to vacuum your interior.
- Check your gas cap when you fill up. If you have a loose fitting or a missing gas cap, you could be losing gas as it evaporates.
- Unplug your extra accessories. Any time you plug your phone charger, iPod or iPad charger, GPS or other gear in, you may be draining the life from you car. If you're not using them, unplug them, especially when the car is off. This will help prevent dead batteries.
- Replace your tires regularly, when the tread gets close to 2/32” or the wear pattern is unusual. At this time of year, consider swapping your snow or studded snow tires for all season. This will improve the life of both sets of tires, improve your gas mileage and in the state of Maine, it is illegal to run studded snows after May 1st.
- If you have children, check to make sure they are in the proper safety seat for their age and weight and that their safety seat is secured properly. These simple steps can make all the difference in keeping your child safe in case of an accident.
- Fill up! Try to keep your tank no less than half full. Keeping it between half and full ensures that you are never stranded because you run out of gas, but also prevents dirt and other impurities from being sucked into the fuel systems because the gas level is low.
- Keep it clean! Keep a small bag or can in your car for trash, especially if you eat in the car or have small children. This keeps the mess contained and can keep your interior fresh and clean longer.
- Check your lights! Regularly checking your headlights, tail lights, blinkers and brake lights can help you avoid costly tickets. Most often, a light that is out is just a burnt bulb - which typically costs less than a few dollars!
- Don't wait! If you notice something off - a hard start, rough idling, stalling, less power, lower gas mileage - it's time to take your vehicle in for diagnostics. Something as simple as replacing filters can make a huge difference and can prevent more costly problems down the road.
- Check your insurance cards! Take a minute to verify the expiration dates of your insurance cards and make sure you have the newest copy in your vehicle. Many people forget to replace the expired card with the replacement card when their policy renews.
- Wax it! Keeping your paint waxed can help keep it in showroom condition, protecting it from environmental hazards, and also makes it easier to wash. Car waxing should be done every 2-3 months for the best protection and appearance.