Regular preventative maintenance, good driving habits, and knowing your vehicle are some of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle roadworthy, maximally-operational, and safe. Regular inspections give your automotive repair experts at JCo Auto the chance to catch a serious issue long before it becomes a major or catastrophic problem. Not sure about any of this? Just call JCo!
Follow your VEHICLE manufacturer’s instructions
Your owner’s manual is your handbook for regular preventative maintenance. It will tell you the mileage at which to change the oil, filters (oil, engine, cabin air etc), drive or timing belts or chains etc in your vehicle. It will also tell you the correct oil to use for your vehicle, and the correct tire pressure. At JCo Auto, we will show you where to find this information in your owner’s manual, and we will follow your manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.
Are they really necessary? Depends. If you have had one done recently, and your automotive service technician is aware of the findings, you probably do not need one now. However, if you have not had one for a long time, or your automotive service technician does not have your vehicle’s maintenance history, it is money well spent. At JCo Auto, we recommend the Vehicle Condition Inspection the first time we see you. We affectionately call this one the getting-to-know-your-vehicle inspection. We will assess your vehicle, and make recommendations about how, when, and why to schedule the requisite repairs. Our inspections include (but are not limited to):
· Reviewing your vehicle’s owner’s manual for OEM scheduled preventative maintenance, and major work
· Checking your vehicle’s oil
· Checking your vehicle’s fluids (such as antifreeze, power steering, transmission, differential, brake etc)
· Checking your vehicle’s battery and contacts
· Checking your vehicle for leaks (no leak should ever be ignored)
· Checking your vehicle’s windshield wipers
· Checking your vehicle’s cabin air filter, and maybe even your engine air filter
· Assessing your vehicle’s timing belts/chains, serpentine belts etc
· Assessing your vehicle’s wheels, tires, and brakes (an alignment, or perhaps a tire rotation, may be in order)
· Assessing the remaining tread in your vehicle’s tires, and how much life remains in your vehicle’s brakes
· Assessing your vehicle’s spark plugs (the engine will not work efficiently if spark plugs are worn, or have buildup)
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Get regular oil changes
Think of the oil as your vehicle’s blood (the engine would then be considered the heart). Your vehicle needs oil that is optimal in order to operate efficiently and correctly. There is a huge performance differential between clean oil, and murky or dirty oil. Nothing will destroy an engine faster than the wrong oil, or oil that is no longer optimal. Use the right oil for your vehicle – you can improve your vehicle’s gas mileage, and reduce damage to your vehicle, by following what the manufacturer recommends. It is beneficial to have your vehicle’s engine air filter checked during an oil change. Your JCo Auto technician will know just what to do!
Get regular tune-ups
One of the most important services for your vehicle is the basic tune-up. A timely tune-up can extend your vehicle’s life, and can prevent costly repairs in the future. In the long run, you will enjoy benefits such as fewer and less costly repairs, better gas mileage, and improved safety. Normally, spark plugs are changed during a tune-up (this is a manufacturer recommendation). Spark plugs that are not operating at maximal efficiency can cause other problems, such as higher fuel consumption and poor driveability resulting from misfiring. Dirty filters (such as engine air filter, fuel filter) are also changed as a routine part of a regular tune-up. Dirty filters do not allow for the uninterrupted passage of air; air is necessary for optimal engine efficiency, and insufficient amounts of air can cause the engine to perform sluggishly on acceleration. Improper engine performance can lead to more complicated and costly repairs down-the-road. At the very least, a dirty filter will cause lower fuel efficiency. (https://www.shadetreeautomotive.net/blog/benefits-of-regular-vehicle-tune-ups).
Do not ignore leaks or warning lights/lamps
These things may seem innocuous, or may be annoying, but there is a reason for them, and ignoring them could lead to catastrophic failure of your vehicle’s components. When in doubt, just call JCo!
Do not use home glass cleaner to clean rear windshield
Ammonia is often an ingredient in the glass cleaners that are mass-produced for use inside your home. However, the ammonia can cause breakdown of the rear windshield’s heating elements.
Every other fillup, do these things:
· Clean windshield (a dirty windshield is a safety hazard)
· Clean headlights (dirty headlights can appear very dim)
· Check tire pressure (incorrect tire pressure can damage tires and alignment, and can cause a dip in fuel efficiency; tire pressure drops as air temperature drops)
· Take a look at your tires’ tread pattern (bald or balding tires are a safety hazard, and may affect fuel efficiency negatively; underinflated tires wear unevenly)
· Check oil level (top it up if necessary)
· Check your fluids (oil, washer etc)
· Check windshield wipers (if they streak or scrape the windshield consistently, it is time for a new set)
· Try to clean your vehicle inside and out (dirt, salt, tree sap, the acidity in bird droppings, etc can erode your vehicle’s exterior, and may enter your vehicle on your shoes, where it could begin to break down the integrity of your vehicle’s interior)
How to save on fuel
By using the correct grade of gasoline for your vehicle (as determined by the vehicle manufacturer), you are maximizing your vehicle’s lifespan. Gasoline with higher octane content may boost your vehicle’s gas mileage. Always refer to your owner’s manual.
There is a fantastic article at https://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-save-money-on-gas/. It gives the following as some ways to save on gas:
· Drive less
· Take less time to warm vehicle up
· Buy fuel when air temperature is cooler (early morning or late night)
· Buy fuel from Sunday to Tuesday
· Drive smoothly, and slower
· Brake earlier
· Turn engine off to avoid idling
· Reduce drag (eg, close windows)
· Turn AC off
· Maintain correct tire pressure (tires that are properly inflated reduce friction, and abnormal wear-and-tear; they also result in better gas mileage)
More money-saving fuel tips!
Check tire pressure regularly
According to the Car Care Council, “For every 10 degree drop in temp, tire pressure decreases one to two PSI”, and “Checking the tire pressure is important for vehicle safety, tire life and gas mileage.” (http://www.carcare.org/temperatures-drop-check-tire-pressure-often/). Underinflated tires also wear unevenly.
Do not overfill fuel tank
Stop filling when the automatic nozzle on the pump disengages. If you try to fill more, it may end up on your hands, your shoes, down the outside of your vehicle – all of which amount to waste that you still have to pay for.
Make sure the gas cap is tightened properly
If it has an escape route, fuel will evaporate from the tank, causing it to become yet another air pollutant, and increasing gas consumption unnecessarily. “A broken or missing gas cap can reduce your fuel efficiency by 1% to 2%. You see, the gas cap keeps evaporates and –believe it or not–gas in its proper place. Those evaporates will get used by your car, but if there is no cap, the evaporates will pollute the air with no benefit to you or anyone really.” (https://auto.howstuffworks.com/under-the-hood/vehicle-maintenance/broken-missing-gas-cap.htm).
Park in the shade
By parking in the shade, or using a good windshield shade, you may be able to mitigate excessive unnecessary fuel consumption. You will have less need for air conditioning if your vehicle’s interior temperature does not spike – air conditioning increases fuel consumption considerably, and therefore reduces fuel efficiency. (https://community.cartalk.com/t/myth-or-real-hot-day-and-full-tank-of-gas/72874/3).
Park in your garage!
Your garage is not an extension of your home’s storage space! If you have a garage, park your vehicle(s) in it. Your garage will help you save valuable fuel dollars by maintaining a reasonable interior temperature in your vehicle(s), thereby eliminating excessive use of the air conditioning or defrost features (assuming, of course, you are not intending to drive in extreme ambient temperatures like 30˚C or -25˚C). Air conditioning and defrost are not fuel-efficient.
THE ultimate car care tip – do not neglect maintenance
Your vehicle relies on you to keep it properly maintained – you perform the manufacturer-recommended maintenance, and your vehicle should take good care of you. At JCo Auto, we firmly believe in following all manufacturer-recommended maintenance timetables, as outlined in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. How does that old Benjamin Franklin axiom go? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The vehicle manufacturers know how true this is! And so do we.