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Regular washing will help maintain your cars finish. To prevent scratches, thoroughly hose the vehicle off before using a sponge or cloth to remove dirt that could scratch the finish.
Wash your car in the shade to prevent water spots.
Have your car washed weekly during winter to remove road salt before it can cause rust.
Remember to hose out wheel wells to remove dirt and debris that can trap moisture and cause rust.
Don't forget to wash the lower edges of your doors, dirt and salt build up can cause rust where the inner and outer door panels are welded together.
Many of today's new cars come with a "clear coat" or "crystal coat" finish for extra shine and a deeper looking finish. NEVER use a cleaning wax containing abrasives on these finishes, it will result in a dulling of the finish and you'll notice fine scratches when the sun reflects off the paint.
Unfortunately, many tires wear out before their time due to lack of tire and vehicle maintenance. Regular inspection and care of your tires will increase their life and give you a better handling, safer car.
Investing in a high quality tire pressure gage and regularly checking tire pressure is the simplest thing you can do to improve tire life and keep your car or truck handling the way you want. Under-inflated tires seriously degrade handling and present real safety hazards. You should consult your vehicle owners manual for the proper recommended inflation. Most cars and trucks also post this information on a sticker in the driver's door jamb.
Don't forget to check the spare for air! A tire puncture is a headache, without a spare it can ruin your entire day.
Under-inflation causes the outer ribs and shoulder areas of the tire to wear prematurely while the center section of the tread receives little wear.
Over-inflation produces the opposite effect with the center tread areas wearing before the outer ribs and shoulders.
Tire inflation is also affected by temperature. Check your tire pressure when significant changes in temperature occur.
Out of balance tires cause "shimmy" and a rough ride. More importantly, tires wear quickly and unevenly while wearing out steering and suspension components in short order. Out of balance tires produce a "cupping" wear pattern at the spot where the heaviest portion of the tire slams into the pavement.
After checking tire pressure, rotation is the easiest way to get the most from your tires and, at Schaner Goodyear, only takes a few minutes of your time. Front tires wear more on the outer ribs and shoulders due to steering and cornering forces. Regular tire rotation (every 5,000 miles) balances the wear on all tires. More importantly, rotation keeps the tires contact patch (where the rubber meets the road) equal on all four tires increasing stability and providing consistent handling.
Nothing will tear up your tires faster than wheels that are out of alignment. That's why it's always a good idea to have an alignment performed when you purchase new tires. By inspecting your tires regularly you can spot wear patterns that indicate an alignment problem, and since an alignment costs far less than new tires, it's a great way to save money. Many of today's new front wheel drive cars also require alignment of the rear axle.
Wheel alignment problems can be caused from driving on rough roads, hitting potholes and curbs. Normal wear of your vehicles suspension and steering systems, such as ball joints and tie rods, also cause wheel alignment problems.
The three elements of wheel alignment are caster, camber and toe-in. Misalignment of any of these elements produces a visible, unique wear pattern. By regularly inspecting your tires you can see spot an alignment problem before your tires become seriously worn.
Proper camber assures that the tire tread stays as flat as possible to the road under all driving maneuvers. Camber is the inward or outward tilt of the top of a wheel. Outward tilt is positive camber, inward tilt is negative camber. Too much positive camber causes tires to wear excessively on the outside edge, conversely, too much negative camber causes wear on the inside edge of the tire.
Your vehicle was not designed to have the tires point perfectly straight down the road. This setting is refereed to as toe. Toe-in is when the front edge of the wheels are closer together than the rear edges. Toe-out is the opposite condition, the front edges of the wheels are further apart than the rear edges. The purpose of toe is to provide for proper cornering and to provide steering stability under acceleration.
Improper toe settings, like improper camber settings, result in excessive wear on one side of the tire. Too much toe-in causing outer edge wear and too much toe-out resulting in wear on the inner edges. Improper toe results in a wear pattern described as "feathering", the worn edge of the tire has a feathered look.
The easiest way to understand caster to to look at a motorcycle or bike. You will notice that the front fork is usually leaning backward. This is an example of positive caster. On a car or truck the main purposes of caster are to produce steering feel, give the car a tendency to return to a straight direction after cornering and to provide directional stability.
Too little caster results in a tendency for the vehicle to wander along with a very light "feel" to the steering. Too much caster causes the car to shimmy and and steer hard. When one wheel has less caster than another the car will tend to pull to that side. In extreme cases, incorrect camber results in excessive tire wear.
In today's self-serve world it's all too easy to be too busy or to forget to check your oil level. You should make it a habit to check the oil weekly. When on a trip, especially in hilly or mountainous terrain or while trailering, you should check your oil every time you fill up. When your engine oil level drops, the remaining oil works harder and gets hotter, it lubricating ability starts to breakdown causing wear and tear on internal engine parts.
Have your oil and filter changed regularly according to the schedule in your vehicle owner's manual. Dirty oil causes more wear on your engine and, over time, will result in costly repairs. When you have your oil changed you should also have your air filter checked. A dirty air filter is a sure fire way to reduce performance and fuel economy.
Following the vehicle manufacturer's schedule for tune-ups will insure that your engine delivers peak performance and the best possible fuel economy. More importantly, it makes your car run more reliably and reduces the chances of you or your family being stranded on the road.
When was the last time you checked your transmission fluid level? While most people check the engine oil level, very few check the transmission fluid level. Like the oil in your engine, transmission fluid lubricates the transmission - run the engine without oil and you ruin the engine, run the transmission without fluid and you ruin the transmission.
Check your vehicle owner's manual for the proper method to check the fluid level.
After major engine repairs, transmission rebuilds are the most costly repairs you can make to your vehicle. To help avoid these repairs, you should follow the recommendations for transmission fluid and filter changes found in your owner's manual. Your transmission filter serves the same purpose for the transmission as the oil filter does on your engine, it filters out harmful debris to prevent damage to the internal moving parts. Regular fluid and filter changes are inexpensive ways to prevent avoidable, major repair expenses.
Checking your antifreeze level is simple and can help prevent overheating in the summer and freezing in the winter. Virtually all cars built in the last ten years have an antifreeze reservoir in the engine compartment mark with the minimum and maximum antifreeze levels. If you need to add antifreeze, add it to the reservoir and then check the level again after driving the car.
Never, under any circumstances, should you remove the radiator cap if the radiator is hot to the touch.
Antifreeze will lose its ability to prevent freezing over time. At the first sign of freezing weather you should have your antifreeze checked to make sure it will adequately protect your engine against freezing.
Lack of maintenance is a common cause of engine overheating. Dirt and debris build up in your cooling system and can eventually lead to blockages in your engine and radiator that can result in overheating. To keep your cooling system clean you should have the system drained and flushed at least every two years.
A quick inspection of your cooling system hoses for wear and cracks, and belts for fray and tightness, will help prevent problems on the road.
Always inspect these items with the vehicle off and the engine cool.