Keeping your car running right means keeping it well-maintained. This often means spending a little money now to avoid spending a lot of money later. To keep your car well-maintained, you must be aware of what is happening to it, inside and out. One of the best ways to do this is by giving your car a regular hand wash, which offers an opportunity to visually inspect the vehicle for any changes since the last inspection. While the car is drying, a quick look under the hood to check the vehicle’s fluids and make sure they’re adequately filled, and that hoses and belts are not cut, loose, or frayed, can also ward off common troubles. Common troubles can be commonly avoided, if you’re aware of what to prepare. To keep your car from leaving you and your ride share passengers stranded, investigate these top car problems to be aware of:
Dead or Dying Battery
Battery problems can quickly turn a short trip into a minor headache, and they are among the most common causes of breakdown as stated in various defensive driving courses, especially during cold winter months. Check (or have your mechanic check) to make sure your battery is within the service date (you can usually find or determine this date by checking the sticker on the battery). Most batteries will perform after the recommended service date, but the farther it is past, the less reliable the battery becomes. You can also ensure a good connection between your battery and your car by keeping the battery posts clean (remove corrosion with a wire brush and coat the terminals in petroleum jelly to inhibit future corrosion), and checking to make sure the connecting wires are tightly fixed and not frayed.
You can’t always avoid a flat tire, but there are things you can do to make a flat tire less likely. First, check the tread depth regularly. A penny placed in the tread can tell you whether your tires may need replacing. With the top of Lincoln’s head toward the tire, the tread should reach his forehead. If not, start planning for new tires soon. Also, check for even tire wear, proper inflation and any nicks or blemishes in the sidewall that might signal weak spots. If your car has a spare, make sure it is in good shape and properly inflated, so you can change a flat quickly and get back on the road. One flat tire is bad enough. Two is an absolute no-go. You may want to keep a can of tire inflator and sealer handy as well, which can get you safely to a place where your tires can be swapped. Remember to also inspect the wheel rims for dents and dings that can break tire’s air seal and lead to a flat or tire damage. It may be legal to text and drive in Arizona, but it is really difficult to drive with a flat tire.
This is one of the most minor problems, yet also one of the most common. It can easily be avoided by keeping a spare handy—either in the house, or hidden in a magnetic box somewhere within easy reach, like under a bumper or in a wheel well. Modern keys often include a microchip that prevents your car from being stolen, so always having the backup that came with your car means you won’t have to make an emergency trip to an authorized dealer for a speedy replacement. Many roadside services also offer key assistance, but calling them means additional costs and additional time waiting. Be prepared with a spare! It will come in handy, and probably when you least expect it.