Put the brakes on these common mistakes to help keep your car on the road and out of the shop.
“Your car’s suspension is great at soaking up imperfections in the road, but it has a breaking point. Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid potholes, but driving through them at any speed faster than a crawl can bend wheel rims and brake struts.” —Matt Smith, senior editor at Car Gurus.
“Penny-pinching by using less than top-tier-rated fuels can result in expensive engine damage down the road. Filling with regular grade when the engine requires premium can create drivability problems and warning lights.” —Richard Reina, product-training director at CARiD.
“Too much time without exercise will kill your car’s battery, misshape its tyres, and can leave it with a tank full of stale gasoline. If you want to store a car for a long period of time, be sure to find a suitable (and preferably indoor) location. Then give it a good wash to protect the paint, overfill its tyres to help keep them round, use some peppermint-oil-soaked mothballs to protect it from rodents, and hook the battery up to a trickle charger to keep it alive.” —Matt Smith.
“This commonly neglected issue can wear down your tyres, increase your chances of an accident, and hurt your car’s fuel economy.” —David Ambrogio, a consultant with Superior Honda.
“It’s easy to wonder why you should keep your car’s exterior clean. After all, it’s just going to get dirty again, right? Well, washing your car regularly will protect its paint and reduce the likelihood of rust. Giving your car’s underside a good spray is particularly important in the winter, when salt can quickly eat away at your chassis’s bare metal.” —Matt Smith. Try these 13 weird tricks to clean your car.
“We tend to focus on keeping our car’s exterior clean, but not under the hood. This is a mistake. Periodic cleaning of your car engine’s exterior can remove built-up sludge and debris that is shortening the life of your engine.” —David Ambrogio. Keeping your engine clean is incredibly important, unlike the worst car tips mechanics have ever heard.
“This one’s for those few remaining manual-transmission drivers: Don’t rest your hand on the gear shifter! While it may feel natural to keep your hand on the stick shift, doing so will result in premature wear to the transmission’s components.” —Matt Smith.
“You might be keeping up with maintenance, but going cheap by using substandard or incorrect parts and fluids is bad. Regular oil changes require the use of the correct-viscosity oil, not just the least expensive stuff you can find in a big-box store. Spark plugs should have the correct heat range. Fuel and air filters should be name-brand, original-equipment-equivalent or better, not just the lowest-priced item you can find.” —Richard Reina.
“Changing your oil more often than recommended keeps corrosive materials out of the engine and helps you keep your car on the road longer. This is especially true if you mainly do city driving.” —David Ambrogio.
“A cold engine needs time to get up to temperature. Avoid full-throttle acceleration until the temperature gauge reads ‘normal.’” —Richard Reina.
“A heavy foot on the brake pedal creates abnormal wear to pads and rotors, resulting in more-frequent replacements.” —Richard Reina.
“Running your car until the fuel light comes on—and then driving another ten kilometres —moves debris and dirt that has settled to the bottom of your tank through your engine.” —Valerie Coleman, sales director at 5miles.