Costly Car Maintenance Mistakes That Are Killing Your Bank Account
It’s so exciting when you purchase a new car. But then, you have to think about how to take care of it and everything that could possibly go wrong. That’s not to mention all of the money you end up spending to run it. All of this can be very overwhelming.
But don’t worry. It's all about preventing damage by avoiding harmful, unnecessary habits that cause wear and tear to your car and taking care of minor issues before they become big problems.
Constantly Resting Your Hand on the Gear Shift
Although manual cars aren't as common anymore, people who still have them should know that they’re risking damage to their vehicles when they rest their hands on the gear shift.
Not Checking Fluids
Engine oil, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid are things you need to be mindful of to take good care of your car. The most important of those are engine oil and coolant, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the others.
Slamming on the Brakes
If you’re trying to avoid an accident, you slam on the brakes to avoid the collision. But when you’re just driving around, try to avoid hitting the brakes too hard. You can do this by paying attention to fast-changing traffic lights and being aware of your surroundings.
Driving With Low Tire Pressure or Not Checking the Tire Pressure
When tires aren't inflated properly, they’re more likely to wear down faster. When that tire pressure light comes on or when you suspect that your tires aren’t inflated properly, take care of it immediately. Check the pressure using a gauge when the tires are cool, not when you’ve just finished driving somewhere.
Not Using Your Emergency Brake
Sometimes, only people who drive manual transmission vehicles use their parking brakes regularly, but really, everyone should. Using the emergency brake when you park relieves pressure on your transmission, drive shaft joints, parking pawl and the clutch (if you’re driving a manual vehicle).
Ignoring Strange Sounds Coming From Your Vehicle
Weird noises coming from your vehicle are your car's way of telling you that it’s "sick." It most likely needs "treatment" in the form of some kind of repairs before even more serious issues have a chance to develop.
Using the Entire Gas Tank Before Filling It Again
Playing guessing games and pushing the gas tank to its limit aren’t things you want to do. Not only could you end up stuck somewhere with no gas, but there’s also an even bigger problem that you want to avoid.
Riding the Clutch
Do you drive a manual? Please don't forget to release that clutch pedal when you change gears. Riding on the clutch causes the clutch disk to slip, which damages it. Clutch replacement is quite costly.
Loading the Roof Like You're in a Cartoon
While it was always funny to see cartoon characters or people in comedy shows overload their cars by putting ridiculous numbers of things on the roofs (and even though it was funny when those items subsequently broke free of the straps and tumbled off the roof) if that happened to you, you wouldn’t be laughing.
Putting Water Instead of Coolant in the Radiator
If you have no other option, it’s fine to temporarily put water in the radiator so that you can drive to the store to get coolant. But don't think you can just let the water be and wait to change it back.
Putting Off Scheduled Maintenance
It’s not always pleasant to realize that, after you buy this expensive machine, you have to keep spending money on it to maintain it. But it is money well spent. You know the saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? You’re investing some money to keep yourself from having to spend an even larger amount of money later on.
Ignoring Those Dashboard Warning Lights
It’s not a good feeling when those lights turn on. You start to panic about the possibly huge bill you’re about to get from the repair shop. But ignoring those signs only makes those bad feelings even worse.
Putting the Wrong Oil in the Car
Keeping the oil levels up in between changes is essential, but don't just guess at what kind of oil your car uses. Check your owner's manual. Every type of car has a specific viscosity of oil that it needs.
Not Washing Your Car Often
The general rule of thumb is to wash your car every two weeks, depending on how often you drive it. That may sound extreme, but it’s especially important if you live in an area where your vehicle is constantly exposed to harsh elements. This can include everything from snow, sand and tree sap to bird droppings and salty air.
Driving Through Deep Water
It looks impressive on TV and in commercials when the speeding car driving through the mountains hits that big puddle of water and splashes it everywhere. But it's not that cool in real life.
Putting Off or Skipping Oil Changes
Oil for a car is like blood for a human being. You need blood to live, and you need that blood to flow freely through your body, just like the oil in a car needs to be full and flowing freely. The only way that happens is if you get your oil changed when you're supposed to.
Shifting Into Reverse When the Car Is Still Moving Forward
We’ve all had those days when we’re running late and are having trouble finding parking. Then, a spot opens up on the street. We try to parallel park as fast as we possibly can. This might lead some of us to accidentally put the car in reverse when it is still rolling forward.
Defrosting the Windshield With Hot Water
Scraping the ice off the windshield in the winter is not a fun job, but it’s a necessary one. If you’re in a hurry, it can seem like a waste of time, leading you to try out seemingly faster options. But pouring hot water on your windshield isn’t going to defrost the window any faster. Hot water isn't actually that effective at removing the ice.
Pumping the Wrong Fuel Into Your Car
Pay close attention to the type of fuel you’re putting in the car. If you have a diesel-fueled vehicle, don’t ever put gasoline in it. If you do, the damage will be almost immediate and result in repairs in the thousands of dollars.
Not Reading the Owner's Manual
The first thing you should do — that not a lot of people bother to do — when you purchase a new vehicle is read the owner's manual. Reading the owner's manual of a car is like learning how to keep the car from falling apart.
Forgetting to Change the Interior Air Filters
Mechanics usually take care of the engine filter, but you need to be aware of the filters in the cabin of the car. Air filters keep out dust, dirt, allergens, bad odors and anything else that's funky and coming from the air outside the car.
Keeping Winter Tires on the Car All Year
There’s a reason why they’re called winter tires. They’re effective and helpful during winter, but they’re terrible for the rest of the year. Due to their composition, they’re squishier and not very good at maneuvering in dry weather. They also don’t last as long and get poor fuel economy (which means you’re spending more money on gas).
Speeding Over Potholes and Speed Bumps
In total, potholes cost Americans $3 billion in damage every single year. Most of that damage happens when bulging tires roll over these road hazards. Next is damage to the wheels, exhaust, suspension and, for cars that are low to the ground, the undercarriage.
Using Unqualified Shops to Fix Your Car
You wouldn't allow someone who didn’t go to medical school to perform surgery on you, right? So why would you let an unqualified mechanic work on your car?
Paying for Services You Can Do on Your Own
There are complex services your car requires that are best handled by a professional. But there are also simple tasks that you can do yourself to save some money.
Using the Wrong Cleaning Products
Make sure to get cleaning products that are actually meant for cars. There’s a reason why they’re sold in auto-supply shops. Don't think you can use dish soap from the kitchen and get it to do the same job.
Neglecting Tire Rotations
Taking care of your car tires is very important for overall car maintenance. One part of tire maintenance that people often forget to handle is rotating the tires. It’s important because rotating the tires ensures that the tire treads wear down evenly, keeping you safer.
Forgetting to Lubricate Hinges on the Trunk and Doors
The hinges on both the trunk and the car doors require grease to work properly. It’s recommended to apply grease to all of the hinges at least once a year.
Driving the Car Too Hot or Too Cold
Newer cars are better at adjusting to cold temperatures, but until the engine is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, either wait it out or drive slowly to give the engine a chance to warm up.
Not Doing At-home Inspections
Even if none of the above tasks are things you can remember to do right away, try to at least do regular at-home inspections of your car. The best way to take care of your car is to find problems and fix them before they become even messier — and more expensive.