Like people, machines that are taken care of tend to do a better job. Here are some broad strokes as to how to improve the your vehicle’s overall health.
10. Keep your car clean. This doesn’t really help with healthiness, but it does demonstrate to you that the car’s worth taking care of. If it looks well cared for, you’ll probably go ahead and take better care of it.
9. Get a vehicle that makes sense for your life. Let’s face it, kids and Corvettes don’t mix. Get a vehicle that fits with what you do, not what you’d like to do.
8. Invest in good tires. Everything that happens to a car while it’s driving can only be as good as the little patch of tires that is touching the road. Watch tire wear and don’t buy tires a knowledgeable friend won’t recommend.
7. Maintain your car. If something breaks, fix it. If you’re going to keep the car more than three years, find a good mechanic and develop a relationship with his shop. There’s not a lot of work on modern cars, so mechanics want long-term customers.
6. Change your oil regularly. Not often, regularly. My car tells me when to change it – once so far and I’ve got 14,000 miles on it. I figure it’s smarter than I am about it. Don’t get silly here, there’s really no reason to change your oil every couple of thousands of miles. Sure, if you live in West Texas and love to drive in dust storms, go ahead and change it. Normal driving doesn’t “hurt” oil. You need to keep it filtered, and replace the additives.
5. Use synthetic oil. It isn’t really synthetic if comes from oil wells too. But it is run through a process that leaves only the hydrocarbons that the engineers want rather than the 60 or so different hydrocarbons that make up “regular” oil. Synthetic oil is simply so much better than “regular” oil that I’d never consider putting old-fashioned oil in my car.
4. Warm up the car for at least a minute before throwing it in gear and heading off. You don’t have to warm the car up to normal driving temperature; they’re designed to do that while you drive. But giving it a minute to get all the fluids to where they’re supposed to be is important. The liquids in your engine, except for the fuel, are there to protect the engine. Let them do their job. Plus that minute lets you transition from being a pedestrian to being in control of a two-ton vehicle in the middle of fragile human bodies.
3. Combine tasks and trips to reduce the number of start and stop outings. These
are really hard on a car as it takes more time for everything in a car to get to operating temperature than it does to get down the street to the drug store. That trip is close to being as hard on your car as a trip of a couple hundred miles.
2. Get off that cell phone. This is one of the better ways to take care of your vehicle, because without carrying on a conversation, you might actually pay attention to the act of driving a deadly piece of machinery. The accident rate for cell-phone related crashes is just about the same as for drunk driving. Texting while driving should be a felony.
1. Don’t drive so much. It solves several problems. If everyone that could would reduce their annual mileage by 10 percent, we’d improve national fuel mileage savings and environmental evil by that much. We’d bring down the price of fuel as well as reducing our dependence on evil foreign oil. We’d walk more, so be in better shape and therefore healthier, reducing national medical care costs. We’d live longer, perform better at work, get promotions and raises, and then spend that money to improve the economy. Jeez, we’ve taken care of everything that politicians talk about — a reducing all that hot air might just help with global warming.