Simple, Economical Car Maintenance
The saying goes that a stitch in time saves nine. When it comes to car maintenance, that saying couldn't be truer. Investing just a little time and a few dollars can help avoid major, expensive repairs down the road.
Let's start with oil. Not only is the right amount of oil important but also the right grade, especially during the winter, when cold weather makes oil thicken. Thicker oil in the crank case during winter weather can affect several different systems and lead to excess wear in the engine, and perhaps in the extreme, catastrophic failure. To keep oil flowing in cold weather, opt for a lower number. Change out 10W40 for 0W10 or spend a bit more for a synthetic, which works even better. Average costs range from $29.95 to $59.95 at a professional shop. That's not a lot of money, when you consider the potential cost of a new engine...
It is no longer necessary to change oil every 3,000 miles. Thanks to more efficient products and engines, AAA now recommends an oil change every five to seven thousand miles, and in some cases up to 15,000.
Another simple chore that many people forget is checking their vehicle's tire pressure. In winter months, check as often as once a week. Cold weather leads to under-inflated tires which can lead to blowouts. The correct tire inflation also results in your gas going further. Gas won't go nearly as far when tire pressure is low. For every pound per square inch that your tire is under-inflated, you're losing one or two percent of your fuel economy per tire. Multiply that times four tires and that could add up to a chunk of change.
Also check the treads, using a quarter instead of a penny. If the treads don't reach Washington's head, it's time to buy new tires, a purchase that most technicians say its best not to skimp on.
Next to tires, the most common calls to AAA involve batteries. Make sure to keep connections clean, and rather than find out the hard way that your battery is on its last legs, have your mechanic perform a load test after three years. People who live in the hot, arid southwest also know that heat is very hard on batteries and theirs will need to be evaluated more often. Perhaps even once per year.
Take care of your car and it will take care of you.
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