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Car Care Tips You Should Know to Improve the Life of Your Vehicle
Your car is expensive and presumably you don’t want to waste money on extra service visits or having to buy a new car sooner than expected. It’s important to treat your car well and perform ongoing maintenance. Fortunately caring properly for your car isn’t challenging and will keep it in tip-top shape.
Drive with Lights On
Many cars now come with daytime running lights, but if your does not, turn on your lights. Driving with your lights on can reduce your risk of accidents and keep you visible even in poor weather.
Don’t Ride the Clutch
If your car is a standard, don’t keep the clutch engaged as you anticipate shifts and stops. Treat your clutch as an expensive part of your vehicle that needs to be used as sparingly as possible.
Left, Right, Left Again
Almost half of car accidents happen at intersections. Before you turn or go, look left and then right. Then glance left again. Don’t forget to look for pedestrians and bike riders as well as oncoming vehicles.
Rest Your Engine
Shift your engine into neutral at traffic lights. This reduces the amount of heat generated, can improve gas mileage slightly and gives your engine a bit of a break.
You should be replacing your windshield wipers every few months. Consider adding a rainproof coating to your windshield to minimize the work of the wipers and improve visibility.
Close Your Windows
While driving with the windows down at a low rate of speed can lower fuel consumption, leaving them down as you drive faster lowers gas mileage because of the additional drag created. Roll up the windows and recirculate your air conditioning.
Defrost with Your Air Conditioner
Run air conditioning while you defrost your windshield. The A/C will remove moisture from the air and help remove frost or condensation faster. Remember that you can turn the temperature up on the A/C if you’re cold.
Use the Car Wash
Washing your car at home may seem cheaper, but you’re using up to 20 times more water than you would in a professional car wash. You’re also more likely to leave scratches in your paint.
Your hands follow your eyes on the road. That means looking at the radio or your phone can take your eyes off the road for long stretches of time and your hands will likely steer your car the direction of your eyes. So put phones away and find a good playlist before you even start the car.
Avoid Changing Lanes
The center lane on a busy freeway is the safest. Every time you change lanes you increase your risk of a collision, so get as close to center and possible and stay there.
Use Your Cruise Control
When you’re on a long drive, turn on your cruise control. It will reduce fuel consumption, increase gas mileage and give your right foot a break. Just don’t use cruise control in the rain for safety reasons.
Replace Your Oil Filter
You should replacing your oil filter every time you replace your oil. The filter is keeping dirt and particles as small as 10 microns, and you want to keep your new oil clean.
Clean and Moisturize
Cleaning and moisturizing your interior will extend the life of the car. Clean leather seats and moisturize them up to four times annually. Stick to leather products and avoid poorly reviewed cleaners as they may do more harm than good.
Keep Your Tank Full
The fuller your gas tank is, especially in the winter, the better for your car. In the winter months, the empty space in your tank can develop condensation which may settle into your gas tank and cause engine troubles.
Use Heat to Fight Overheating
If your car engine is getting too hot, turn on the heater. You’ll probably want to open the windows, but turning on the heater will draw heat away from the engine.
Fill a Spreading Crack
If your windshield gets a ding, take it to a glass shop to be filled. Once filled with resin, the crack shouldn’t spread and require a $200-$500 replacement windshield. Usually your insurance will waive a deductible and cover the repair as well.
How to Make a Car Environmentally Friendly
While it might be nice to buy the latest Tesla, expensive electric cars just aren’t in the budget for most of us. Fortunately, there are ways to improve the carbon footprint of your current car without spending a small fortune.
Your driving can do more damage than your car if you’re not driving wisely. Driving aggressively, rapid acceleration and idling your engine all burns unnecessary fuel – a great deal of it. Maintain a steady pace on the most direct pathway to your destination. If you’re going longer distances, use cruise control to help maintain speed and minimize fuel consumption.
Don’t Top Off
If you regularly top off your tank, you may be harming your gas tank and causing environmental concerns. Modern cars have an emissions canister that prevents fuel vapors from leaking into the environment. Topping off damages that canister and can even destroy it. Topping off can also lead to spilled fuel, which evaporates into the atmosphere as well.
Keep Emissions in Check
Modern cars have an emissions system to clean and minimize exhaust fumes. If something in the system goes wrong, greenhouse gases multiply. You can check for issues, however, by being sure you always take your car in to be serviced when the check engine light comes on. This is the first sign that something may be amiss in your emissions system.
Remove Extra Weight
The more your car weighs, the more fuel it uses. So remove all of the unnecessary stuff that may be traveling around with you in the vehicle. This is true on trips as well – bring what is necessary, but leave heavy optional items at home.
Turn Off Your Air Conditioning
Air conditioning is a luxury that begins to feel like a necessity in the heat of the summer. It may be hard to turn off your air conditioning on a hot afternoon in July, but consider running just a vent or opening the windows on the cooler mornings and evenings and during the times when you don’t strictly need the A/C to avoid overheating. Using your air conditioning increases the strain on your electrical system and engine, which requires burning more fuel.
Maintain Your Radiator
Engines have an ideal temperature and the radiator and cooling system maintain that ideal. If the temperature runs as less than ideal, it can lead to reduced efficiency and excess emissions. If your engine runs hot, it can lead to overheating. Keep an eye on the engine temperature gauge in your vehicle and if it is anywhere but dead center, take your car in for radiator maintenance.
Fill Up Your Tires
One of the easiest things you can do to improve fuel economy and therefore be greener is to fill up your tires to the correct tire pressure. Underinflated tires require the engine to work harder, causing excess fuel burn. Keeping your tires filled properly also improves the life of your tires, delaying new purchases and reducing the amount of old tires in landfills.
11 Tips for Buying a Used Car
Buying a used car is smart financially, but it can be a bit of a treasure hunt as well. Brand new cars can lose as much as 20 percent of their value the moment you take possession, so buying used is more cost effective – if you buy a vehicle that won’t cost you more down the road.
The trick is finding a used car that fits your needs, fits your budget and also will need limited maintenance. This is where the hunting for treasure comes in. Fortunately, there is not a single prize out there. Instead, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cars that will fit your needs. It’s just a matter of searching wisely.
1. Know What You Need
It’s easy to get lost on your wants when you’re buying a car, but it is more important to focus on your needs. Adequate seating, safety and trouble-free maintenance all rank a bit higher in importance than a cherry red exterior.
2. Anticipate Emotional Decisions
When you step onto the car lot, it’s common to succumb to emotional decision-making. Your eyes skip right over the practical minivan and land on the muscle car or off-road vehicle that costs twice as much and aren’t right for you or your family.
What sounds like great deals, shiny paint and a few teenage dreams can make car-buying tricky, so anticipate the problem ahead of time. Consider bringing a buying partner to help keep you on track.
3. Arrange Financing Ahead of Time
Before you even walk on to the car lot, you should know what the bank will loan you and at what interest rate.
Having the funds ready to go will make the process smoother if you’re buying from a private party. If you’re buying from a dealership, the dealership can try and beat the financing deal you already have, but you’re set either way.
4. Watch Your Budget
Having a loan isn’t always the same as knowing what you can afford to purchase. Again, before any emotions come into play, check your savings and your budget to know what you can put down for a down payment, what you can afford to pay in cash and what you can comfortably afford as a monthly payment. Don’t forget to include insurance payments, fuel and maintenance as part of the ongoing costs of car ownership.
5. Negotiate a Cash Price
If you’ve already arranged a loan or you’re actually paying in cash, you’re a cash buyer and you should only be concerned about the price of the car.
Dealers like to negotiate based on monthly payment because they can hide more profit and cost in the payments. You should stick to your guns and worry only about the price of the car, and using cash should help you negotiate that price even lower.
6. Do Your Car Research
Do you know which cars are the most reliable? Do you know which retain value or have the best warranties? You should. Research reliability, value, warranties and read reviews on the types of cars you’re considering.
This is a large purchase, and knowing what experts and other owners say is valuable information to have. Consider a list of the cars you’ve researched carefully to use as a guide when actually shopping.
7. Check Car Resale Values
There are several websites that will show you the price range you should expect to pay for a new car. With your researched list of cars, pull up those values ahead of time and make some notes. Dealers will try and maximize profits – you should go in armed with information about what is reasonable to pay a private party or dealer.
8. Expect Negotiations
Car dealerships are in the business of making money. That means they are going to try and make you pay as much as possible. You are trying to pay as little as possible. After researching a fair price for the vehicle, start negotiations with a low offer in the reasonable range. Increase your acceptable price in small amounts under $300 until you find a common ground.
Remember that salesmen are professionals in this area and will use every trick in the book (and out of it) to get the best deal for them. Work slowly and carefully to avoid getting confused or falling into an expensive agreement before you’re ready.
9. Look at Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles
You can expect to pay more, but a certified pre-owned vehicle has been rigorously inspected, reconditioned and assured by the dealership. Buying a CPO is as close to new as you can get, but you won’t get hit with the instant depreciation as you drive off.
10. Use a Vehicle History Report
The Vehicle Identification Number, of VIN, can be used to find out the history of a vehicle you’re considering. A vehicle history report will spot things like previous flooding, hail damage, major collisions and other potential problems that may cause trouble down the road.
11. Get an Expert Opinion
As a mechanic to come with you to the dealership or bring your used car to the mechanic to check it out during an approved grace period. An experienced mechanic will help you identify previous damage, find items that need repair and check for an overall condition of the vehicle.
Buying a new or new-to-you car is exciting, but is also a prime opportunity to pay more than you want for a car that is less than you want. Approach the situation as a major investment – which it is – and you’ll be much more likely to come out ahead.