Owning a car has several perks. For instance, it can get you and your friends from one place to another while providing entertainment during the journey through music or podcasts. However, like any other machine, your vehicle requires periodic upkeep to work best. While it might seem easy, many make errors while performing maintenance, which worsens the automobile’s performance. Here are nine such common car maintenance mistakes to avoid at any cost.
Ignoring the check engine light
Many often overlook the check engine light because their car appears to be operating normally. However, it is a big mistake that could affect your vehicle’s health in the long term. The light is a clear indicator that something is wrong with the engine, and not addressing the issue may result in the vehicle breaking down in the middle of a trip. Furthermore, the more you wait, the worse the internal damage could get, costing you a significant amount to repair in the future.
Neglecting tire pressure
This is one of the most common car maintenance mistakes to avoid. Many drivers glance at their tires before entering the vehicle and assume they are inflated. However, a mere look cannot help you determine whether the tires have sufficient air. It is essential to check the pressure with a dedicated tool or use the car’s inbuilt sensor if available. This practice must be followed regularly, as tires can quickly lose pressure when running over potholes. Even the temperature outside could affect the pressure, causing a 1 to 2-lb loss for every ten-degree drop outside. Driving with low tire pressure could result in poor fuel efficiency and other problems.
Delaying oil changes
The engine oil keeps all engine components lubricated to minimize friction and damage. However, it breaks down with time, forming a sludge. Instead of cooling and lubricating the parts, the liquid could now damage them. So, ensure you change the oil on time to prevent the components from deteriorating. It usually requires replacement between 3,000 to 7,000 miles, but the exact figure can change based on the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Not accounting for other fluid inspections
Like engine oil, the other liquids in the vehicle also require inspection. These include brake fluid, engine coolant, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid. Vehicle manufacturers recommend all these liquids be inspected, replaced, or topped off based on their condition. Doing so helps avoid leaks and keeps the car functioning efficiently.
Forgetting to inspect the brakes
A squeaking noise coming from one of the brakes may require immediate inspection. It could be a sign that a part has worn out. Not addressing the issue could result in the brakes not working correctly, risking your safety when cruising down roads and highways. So, if you hear a squeak while stepping on the brakes or get other unusual feedback, get the vehicle inspected, repaired, or replaced immediately. Ignoring the problem is one of the riskiest car maintenance mistakes to avoid.
Maintaining a vehicle without professional inputs
Everyone wants to save money on vehicle maintenance. And it is true that many car owners can easily and safely change specific parts, such as the tires, without heading to the garage. However, other elements, like the sensors that regulate idle speed, fuel injectors, and spark plugs, may require an expert’s intervention. You may permanently damage these components trying to repair or fix them without proper knowledge. Any mistake may also void the warranty given by the manufacturer. So, it is best to hand your ride over to a professional, especially when dealing with more complex parts.
Using home glass cleaner on the rear windshield
If you own a car, you must perform even the tiniest of maintenance tasks, like cleaning the rear windshield, with great care. People often use home cleaners on this glass to save a few bucks. But doing so causes the gradual breakdown of the thin red lines in the rear windshield. These red lines are actually tiny wires designed to bring heat to the windshield to help with defrosting during winter. If damaged, you will eventually have to pay more to replace them, so stick to a window cleaner designed for automotive glass.
Not rotating the tires
Tire rotation is one of the most simple maintenance requirements that most people overlook. Today, tires can go without replacements for up to 50,000 miles. However, they may not last long if you do not rotate them every 5,000 to 8,000 miles. Tires usually have varied patterns depending on their position in the car. Therefore, the frequent rotation could ensure they wear more evenly and last longer.
Using alternative spare parts
Many use alternative spare parts for maintenance as they are much cheaper than the original. Third-party spares people usually purchase spark plugs, filters, and other off-brand components advertised to fit a car’s make and model. While they may work, they might not perform as well and could also reduce the vehicle’s life. So, it is essential to use the right parts as indicated by your manufacturer. Using branded components during repairs will cost more but ensure you get the most out of your vehicle.