Guest Post: How To Keep Your Car In Tip-Top Shape

This is a guest post from Sean Gray, a student at Grossmont College in El Cajon, CA.

You have just bought a car and now have a huge investment in your new mode of transportation. Being a vehicle owner means a little more than just putting gas in the car, cranking it up and driving away. You have to maintain the vehicle if you want to get the best performance out of it.

If the vehicle you bought is brand new, it is highly recommended to take it to the dealership for regular maintenance. If you attempt to do any advanced maintenance on a new vehicle, it could possibly nullify the warranty. If your vehicle is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, take it to the dealership or a certified dealer mechanic for maintenance and tune-up’s.

If your vehicle is not under any kind of warranty, you are solely responsible for its maintenance. The first and most important item you need to purchase is the repair manual for your vehicle’s make and model. This book is a valuable guide and will have information specifically about the make and model of your vehicle that you will need in order to perform advanced maintenance and repairs. You can find these manuals on the internet, but you can also find it at your nearest auto parts store. If you are in doubt, refer to your repair manual for instructions and other important information.

Starting with the exterior of your vehicle, it is very important to take good care of your vehicle’s paint job. Using quality soaps and waxes will extend the life of your car’s paint job. You will also need to use good applicators that will not scratch or haze the clear coat on your car. Use quality microfiber cloths to remove the excess wax. Microfiber cloth is lint free and very soft and will not harm your vehicle’s paint.

Your car will get you nowhere without good tires. Making sure your tire air pressure is equal in all four tires will not only extend their life, but will also affect your gas mileage and how your vehicle handles on the road. If you purchase new tires, ask if your tire service station can fill your tires with nitrogen gas instead of compressed air. Nitrogen gas will allow your tires to run at a cooler temperature, which extends the life of the tire’s rubber. Purchase a quality air gauge and check your tires’ air pressure on a regular basis to ensure that they are equally filled with air. Always fill and keep the tires at the recommended air pressure. This information can be found on the tires themselves.

Making sure that your engine’s fluids are at proper levels will also extend the life of your vehicle. Always check the engine oil when the engine is cool. This will ensure that all the oil is in the oil pan and will give you a correct reading. Check your transmission fluid when the engine is warm and running. Never overfill any fluids, as it could possibly harm the engine. Never check coolant levels when the engine is hot. This is very dangerous and could scald you very easily. Refer to the repair manual and learn how to properly check coolant levels, as this varies with different models. Refer to your owner’s manual to learn how to properly check your brake fluid and power steering fluid levels. The process to check these level varies with different models, but are very important to the life of your car.

Basic maintenance of your vehicle will keep your vehicle running properly for a long time. Performing regular maintenance checks on your car will not only save you a lot of money in the long run, but will keep your investment in good working order for years to come.

Sean is a student at Grossmont college.

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