How to Take Care of Your Car Properly

Modern vehicles are complex machines with thousands of parts. Caring for your vehicle properly can save you money and keep you safe.

Nipping problems in the bud is key. That rattle might not be a big deal today, but it could become an expensive problem in the future.

Winter is on its way, bringing snow, slush, and salt to the roads. Here are some simple ways to take care of your car this season:

Check the Tires

Your tires are your only point of contact with the road, and they're responsible for everything from handling to braking. Watch this video to see how important it is to take care of them.

Inspecting your tires regularly can help you save money and extend their life by catching problems before they become costly or dangerous. You should do a visual inspection of your tires at least once a month and before any long trips.

Check the tread depth for signs of wear and tear. If the treads are worn down to one-sixteenth of an inch, it's time for new tires. You can use a tire tread depth gauge to check the tread depth, or simply insert your finger in the grooves to see how deep they are.

You should also look for cuts, cracks and punctures in the tire's sidewall. If you notice a bulge in the tire, it's likely that there is a leak, which could cause the tires to deflate. Also, if you feel vibrations in the steering wheel or seat, this could indicate that your tires are out of balance.

Make sure that your tires are inflated to the recommended pressure. If they're underinflated, it will cause the contact patch to wear unevenly and accelerate the tire's wear. On the other hand, if your tires are overinflated, it will create excessive heat, increase fuel consumption and make your car harder to handle.

Your tires' age and conditions are another factor that needs to be taken into account. Older tires can lose their grip and be unsafe for driving, especially on wet or snowy roads. You can determine how old your tires are by looking at the DOT code on them. The first two numbers indicate the week and the last two represent the year; for example, a tire with a DOT code of 1208 was made in the 12th week of 2008.

If you're not comfortable checking your tires' condition at home, enlist the help of Kolby's Auto Spa to perform a thorough inspection just click this link  for more details. It's essential to keep your tires in good condition to ensure safety on roads.

Check the Brakes

The brakes are one of the most important parts of your car, and it is crucial that you take the time to check on the condition of your pads and rotors. If you don’t, you might not be able to stop the car when you need to and that could lead to an accident. There are a few different ways you can check on the brakes, but the easiest is to just listen to them when you drive. Generally, when the pads are starting to wear thin they will make a noise that lets you know it’s time for new ones.

You should also pay attention to how the brakes feel when you use them. A pulsating feeling in the brake pedal or steering wheel can be an indication that the rotors are warped and need to be machined or replaced. Another sign that your brakes need attention is if you notice that the braking distance is getting longer. The weather and driving conditions will play a role in how long it takes to come to a complete stop, but if you are consistently having to stamp on the brakes hard to bring the car to a halt, then your brakes are probably in need of replacement.

It is also important to look at the brake disc (or rotor) to see if it has any pitting, grooves, or high spots. Those can cause the metal to contact with each other, which can cause even more damage in your braking system and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Before you do a visual inspection, it’s important to let the brakes cool down, so that they aren’t hot when you touch them. You can remove the wheels to get a better view of the caliper and brake disc. You should be able to peek through the inspection hole in the caliper to see the pad linings, and if they are down to the metal it’s definitely time for them to be replaced. You can also use a piece of straw to test the pad lining thickness without removing the wheels.

Check the Lights

The lights on your car are important for more than just making it easier for you to see, they help other road users see your vehicle. If one of these lights goes out it could be a serious safety issue, particularly at night or in bad weather. Luckily, it's pretty easy to check all the lights on your vehicle if you know what you're looking for.

Warning lights illuminate every time you turn your engine on and briefly let you know all the systems are ready to go, but if one of them stays on for longer than it should it's a sign that something is wrong. These warnings range from an indication that you need to tighten the gas cap to a dangerous engine misfire. Ignoring that light means you'll be putting your engine at risk and potentially ruining a valuable component like the catalytic converter.

Other warning lights will tell you when it's time to change the air filter or when to replace the windshield wipers. There are also light indicators for things like dipped headlights, full beams, and turn signal function. Checking these lights is relatively easy, but it should be done in a dark environment where you won't dazzle other drivers.

For the most accurate assessment of the condition of your car, you'll need to be a little more hands-on. Start by parking your vehicle on level ground about 10m away from a dark wall or garage door. Turn the engine off and leave the handbrake on. Use a spirit level or measuring tape to confirm the vehicle is on level ground. Check the rubber seals on the hood and trunk lid for signs of deterioration and the body for blistered paint, which may indicate it has been patched with filler.

Now that the car is parked, turn on each of the lights and go around to visually inspect them. The headlights should be in good condition and aimed correctly. A broken bulb can cause the headlights to glare and distract other drivers. Also, make sure that the sidemarker lights are working and not reflecting on the road. If the lights are dim or broken, they will need to be replaced.

Clean the Engine

If you want to add a little more shine and resale value to your car, it’s important to regularly clean the engine bay. Keeping the under-the-hood area as clean as possible will also help prevent corrosion and other problems.

Before you begin cleaning, make sure that the car is turned off and cooled down. Also, cover any electrical components like the alternator or distributor with plastic bags or tape. The last thing you want is to accidentally short-circuit your engine while you’re trying to scrub off the greasy gunk.

With the car cool and covered, flip open the hood and begin washing the grime off of the engine and surrounding components. Depending on how gnarly your car is, you may need to apply multiple rounds of degreaser and scrub with a brush. When you’re finished, rinse with a hose at its lowest pressure setting (or, if available, a foam cannon). Start at a safe distance to avoid spraying any components that you’ve covered up — like the carburator — and dry off with a clean towel.

While you’re under the hood, be sure to check the battery and other components like the power brake fluid and cruise control system. If they’re old or worn out, replacing them is a good idea. Also, be sure to inspect the hoses under your hood for bulges or cracks. If you notice that any of them are hard to squeeze or make a crunching sound, it’s time to replace them.

If you’re able to remove the components and wash them in a washing machine, that’s even better. This will save you a lot of time and effort. However, if you don’t have the ability to disassemble and wash these parts, you can use a sponge with some car wash soap and water to gently scrub them clean. Once you’re done, it’s important to rinse them well to make sure that any remaining soap doesn’t damage the underside of your car. It’s best to do this step on a warm day so that the underside of your car can naturally dry off.

Modern vehicles are complex machines with thousands of parts. Caring for your vehicle properly can save you money and keep you safe. Nipping problems in the bud is key. That rattle might not be a big deal today, but it could become an expensive problem in the future. Winter is on its way, bringing snow,…