Maintain Your Car before New Year
It’s going to be here before you know it. It’s time to start making some resolutions for your car, truck or SUV in the New Year. Not sure where to start with your car maintenance checklist? Here are some of the best commitments you can make to keep your vehicle in better condition, enjoy a better ride, and even save a few dollars:
1. Commit to Organizing Your Paperwork. Ever been flustered when stopped on the road and asked for your registration? Or had a heart-pounding moment when you couldn’t find the title? Take the opportunity to get all of your driver paperwork, including service records and insurance cards, where it needs to be, and where you can easily find it when it’s needed. Keep everything organized in one folder so you’re never stuck scrambling for those documents again.
2. Clean Out Your Vehicle. You might not think about it much during the year, but if you’re motoring around with dozens of pounds of unnecessary tools, books, work-related materials and equipment, or anything else, you’re burning a little fuel needlessly. Cleaning out your car will maximize your miles per gallon and give you more room for the important stuff.
3. Tackle Those Tricky ‘Debris Areas’. Over time, your car accumulates dead leaf bits, dirt, and bugs that clog the top of your hood, air grates, the lining of your trunk and the weather stripping around doors. It’s easy to glance over these areas during regular car washes, so make a resolution to spend some time deep cleaning these areas to keep your vehicle clean, sealed and running well.
4. Change the Oil and Air Filter. This is one that almost goes without saying: oil changes tend to be on a per-mile basis, not an annual schedule, but many people procrastinate this task, or do it on an inconsistent basis. Your New Year’s car maintenance resolution could be to change filters more consistently, rather than scrambling to get an appointment each time your odometer rolls up. Commit to making this a habit, and your car will thank you.
5. Give your car a tire check-up. People often only think about their car tires when something has gone wrong with them. Pay attention to your tires, especially during major weather changes like dropping temperatures in the winter. Measure tire pressure regularly — operating a vehicle with just one tire under-inflated can reduce the life of the tires and decrease the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. It’s also important to check the tread on tires. If your tires have worn out, this can cause excess stress on certain car parts which could mean a trip to the car-repair shop in your future.
6. Drive Smarter, Not Harder. With speed limits going up, more drivers are tempted to zoom in between stops and starts and hit speeds above 70 or 80 mph – but these practices generally burn a lot of gas. Take the pledge for the New Year to accelerate slowly, stay below the optimal fuel saver speed (50-60mph) and get a lot more out of a gallon.
Whether working on cars is a hobby or a cost-driven necessity, most DIYers and backyard mechanics are better off with inexpensive alternatives to expensive professional tools. There are some good tools that can interface with your computer, phone, or tablet.