Cars experience general wear and tear over the course of their use.
But specific actions can lead to further issues — possibly even shortening the life of your car and its parts.
Below are mistakes to sidestep if you want to keep your car in tip-top shape:
1. Avoiding Recommended Oil and Fluid Changes
Your vehicle’s fluids, like engine oil and brake fluid, are essential for maintaining car performance.
Driving with low fluid levels can lead to issues like overheating, hastened wear and tear (read: engine damage), or even accidents. It’s vital to check your car’s fluid levels as recommended in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
2. Ignoring Tire & Wheel Care
Tires need specific care, like maintaining tire pressure, tire rotation, and wheel alignment, to ensure they wear evenly and last longer.
This protects you and your car from tire failure or accidents and saves fuel.
3. Neglecting Brake Issues
Over time (or about 20,000 to 70,000 miles), the brake pads wear out.
However, this can happen faster when you slam the brakes often. And ignoring the issue can lead to damaged brake rotors or even accidents.
4. Using Incorrect Parts
Your car has specific components, like platinum or iridium spark plugs and paper or gauze air filters. These parts are cleaned, repaired, and replaced as needed during regular maintenance. These processes can cost a bit for specific part types or brands.
But here’s the thing:
Switching to off-brand, cheap, or incorrect parts can cost more in the long run.
5. Opting for Cheap Gas
Cheap fuel can save you a few cents when you need a refill, but it can cost dearly in the long run, especially if it’s the wrong octane for your car.
Plus, premium gas brands have additives that protect your engine from carbon deposits that lead to rough idling, acceleration issues, knocking/pinging, and reduced fuel economy.
That’s not to say that premium gas is always right for your vehicle. The best practice is to follow the recommended fuel from your car manufacturer.
6. Ignoring Car Care
Essential maintenance like regular checkups and cleaning protects your car against malfunctions, rust, and debris.
Checkups are vital, especially when you hear strange noises. As for cleaning, ensure you clean the exteriors, undercarriage, interiors, and even under the hood to help your car parts last longer.
Avoiding this standard car care can lead to reduced efficiency of parts and long-term damage.
7. Not Driving Your Car
Leaving your car unused for too long can kill your battery, misshape your tires, and leave you with a rodent infestation and damaged wiring (depending on where it’s left).
Ideally, you should start the car once a week and drive it once a month to keep it running optimally.
It’s also harmful to leave the engine on idle when starting the car in winter or drive with a near-empty fuel tank. These acts can lead to expensive engine damage.