Car Maintenance Tips, Tricks & Considerations

With the purchase of a large ticket item such as a car, truck or van, you may be asking yourself how you can get the most out of your money.

The best way to prolong the life of your vehicle is to keep on top of regular maintenance. Let’s be honest, you likely aren’t a trained mechanic. Don’t worry because there are plenty of things you can do to keep the maintenance costs to a minimum.

Today we are going to explore our top tips, tricks and considerations.

Mechanical Tips

The engine does the vast majority of the work in your car; it’s responsible for just about everything, including diverting power from its battery to make the electronics function. To top it off, it does all of this while operating at blisteringly high temperatures, meaning the importance of catering to your engine is paramount to the reliability and extended life of your vehicle.

  • Change the oil, first and foremost. About ever 3,000 to 5,000 kilometers, changing your engine oil and filter will help protect against wear and tear and will improve your fuel economy. Different oils are meant for different types of engines, so be sure to consult with your mechanic to make sure you’re replacing it with the right product. Synthetic oils are generally more expensive, but do a better job of protecting in harsh climates and for much longer.
  • Change your air filter properly to ensure that clean, cold air is making its way from your engine’s air intake to the combustion chamber. The filter’s purpose is to prevent dirt and other particles from entering the fuel system or engine. Air filters are relatively inexpensive, and slightly increase engine horsepower and fuel efficiency.
  • Flush and replace your engine liquids every two years. This includes transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid and coolant. Transmission fluid helps keep your car’s gears moving smoothly, and unlike motor oil, is part of a closed system. The fluid should appear red, and not smell burnt. If it’s brown and has a burnet smell, it’s time to replace. Coolant, aka antifreeze, keeps your car running cool. When removing your radiator cap to check the coolant level, make sure the engine is cold, and look for the line where the coolant level should be. A neglected coolant system can lead to engine damage due to sediment and rust. Brake fluid sounds pretty important, and that’s because it is. This should be checked every time your engine oil is changed (roughly every 5K) This fluid should be a golden colour – if it’s brown, it’s time to replace. Finally, power steering fluid; it ensures your steering is smooth and unrestricted. You should routinely check the level of your power steering fluid reservoir under the hood, but you’ll really only have to replace it every 50,000 kilometers.
  • Use your parking brake regularly to keep it in good working order. Occasional use will help the braking system well-adjusted in the rear of the vehicle, and will help it last longer. However, do not use if you’re planning on storing your vehicle for longer than three months. The pads can cease and fuse on the drums or calipers, warranting a big repair.


Keep It Clean

Washing your car is extremely important for good reason. Further than keeping it shiny and new looking, you’ll be helping to stop dirt, grime and dust from adhering to the finish of your vehicle which can lead to rust and corrosion problems down the road. Try to not wash your car in the sun, as you’ll create water spots and leave harsh detergents on the finish as well.

  • Wax your car when you’re done washing and drying the paint. Waxing is designed to leave a transparent layer of protective coating over the paint to bead and shy away dirt and water. Waxes containing carnauba are generally suggested for paint because they provide a good solid layer of protection from your vehicle and the elements. Remember to wax in the shade, and only do a few panels at a time. If the cars surface is too hot, the wax will dry too quickly and will be hard to remove, leaving streaks and blemishes. Apply in small circles with a damp clean cloth, and wait for a few minutes until the wax dries. Wipe with a separate clean cloth.
  • Don’t forget to wash your wheels, and tires as well. Using a power washer will help to remove any brake dust and road grime. If you feel like really treating your ride, use a vinyl conditioner on your tires to provide a wet, gleaming shine. Apply with a cloth and wipe off the excess after a couple of minutes.


Rust Protection

  • Protecting your cars’ metal surface from rust and corrosion is a very beneficial expense, especially in snowy or wet regions. Products that include tar and wax based properties can, at times, seal in moisture against the metal panels of your vehicle resulting in rust-prone sections of your car, notably wheel wells, running boards, and truck beds. This means that washing your car and thoroughly inspecting these hot spots is key to keeping rust at bay. Clean any mud that can act in a similar fashion to wax or tar based products in wheel wells, and be sure to keep your interior car carpets dry; moisture anywhere can rot your car floor panels from the inside out.