Take several moments to listen to your car while in the driveway or on a spirited ride .. yes you can turn down those jams and open up the windows. Perform a visual car inspection the next time you park. It will tell you all you need to know. Whether the car inspection is for a vehicle you’ve had for years or a pre purchase inspection for that next vehicle, a little diligence goes miles!
As we all come out of our shells post-COVID, you should take stock of your car’s health as you will likely be driving more for work or leisure. Check out a NY Times article recently posted about what to inspect on your car post-pandemic: Driving Less? Make Sure Your Car Hasn’t Deteriorated During Lockdown
Without further ado, here are some complaints your car may be trying to tell you ….
1. Your Paint Is Under Attack
If you drive in the daylight your clearcoat is under attack from harmful UV radiation. One way to mitigate that threat is to have your car cleaned and waxed regularly. The thin layer of wax on top of a clear coat does far more than you may think! Not only does it help your clearcoat resist damage from the sun, but it also helps water, dirt, and other harmful deposits wash off of the paint with ease. Most experts suggest getting your car waxed twice a year or at least once every six months. Doing so in the spring will protect the car from the harsh summer sun and then in fall, it will protect it from cold and icy condition. One quick tip though .. those drive-through car washes don’t feature the kind of wax that will protect your car. In some cases, drive-through car washes can actually damage the finish on your paint since many of the components used aren’t thoroughly cleaned between each wash, so some of the dirt, debris, and grime from the cars that came before you can end up catching a ride on your vehicle!
2. Extend Your Tires Lifespan
Rotating your tires is a vital practice that can help you get every mile out of the warranty provided by your tire manufacturer. Front tires are subjected to different stresses when compared to the back. For front-wheel-drive vehicles especially, those different forces are extreme. Still, regardless of your drivetrain, rotating tires is a simple and effective way of getting the most life out of your tires. The simplest way to ensure a long life is to rotate tires every time you change your oil. This will result in uniform wear and consistent checks to spot issues before they grow.
3. Keep That Leather Healthy
Most cars have some leather inside whether it’s on the dash, on the doors, or the seats themselves. Protecting that surface is vital to maintain a car’s value and its comfort. Thanks to modern products, it’s easy to keep leather from drying out and cracking. Some products are even capable of bringing a leather surface back once some of that drying out has started. Look for a leather conditioner with Lanolin. This compound is the same one that MLB players use to keep their gloves soft, healthy, and pliable for daily use.
Bonus Tip:Tinting your windows can actually help you keep your entire interior in even better shape since it will reduce exposure from damaging ultraviolet light to all interior components including leather, vinyl, and plastic.
4. Record Everything
Many of us have experienced that moment. A few months after an oil change we look up at the sticker in the window only to realize that the sunlight has caused the ink to fade away into history. One way to be certain of when you need to change your oil, or really any regular maintenance, is to keep a consistent record of everything that happens with your vehicle. The benefits are numerous. First, recording maintenance will improve resale value. Second, issues like poorly performing fuel injectors or clogged air filters can be spotted ahead of time by recording things like actual miles per gallon each time you fuel up. Third, keeping a record of sounds, behaviors, and issues related to your vehicle allows you to pinpoint causes much more effectively.
5. That Squeal Helps You Stop
Perhaps one of the most effective passive communication devices on the modern car is the “Squealer” on your brake pads. This small piece of metal is precisely positioned to touch your brake rotor and cause a high-pitched audible squeal. The best part about it is that it only does it when your pad is worn down to the point that it needs replacement. When you hear the squeal don’t wait. Drivers who ignore the signal typically end up costing themselves hundreds of dollars more because a brake pad that wears all the way down to the backing plate can damage the rotor or worse, the caliper itself.
6. Nip It in The Bud
In line with our last tip, don’t wait for problems to get really bad before addressing them. Have you noticed a strange vibration, an odd steering issue, or a lack of power during acceleration? Each and every one of these issues can be something simple but they can also balloon into incredibly expensive territory if not addresses immediately upon discovery. Most cars have redundancies built into each system for safety but catching an issue as soon as it starts typically saves drivers money and stress. When in doubt check it out.
7. Bright Eyes Shine
Over time our lighting grows dimmer and dimmer but since it’s a very slow process we often don’t recognize how degraded that glow really is. It is good practice to review the performance of your headlights every two years. That’s true regardless of bulb type whether LED, HID, or Halogen. Keep in mind that technology is always improving as well, so even when your bulbs are functioning effectively, there might be a newer type that may better suit your needs. Finally, whenever replacing bulbs, try to replace them in pairs. This will ensure an even beam pattern across your field of vision.
8. Lenses Matter Too
It’s possible that your headlight bulbs are in perfect working order but you’re still not getting much light. The culprit? Hazy headlight lenses. Over the years, UV rays from the sun as well as from headlight bulbs themselves can cause the lenses to yellow, thus obstructing light output. The vast majority of the damage is caused to the outer surface and so removing the haze there can dramatically improve output. Multiple solutions are available to address the problem from over-the-counter kits anyone can use at home to professional services that carry a guarantee of clear lenses for a year or more.
9. Hit The Target
Open the fuel door of nearly any vehicle made today and you’ll note a specific type and octane rating of fuel that the manufacturer recommends. That’s there because it’s the most optimal rating for your engine in particular. For example, many turbocharged and supercharged engines require higher octane ratings to produce the power they’re rated for while also reducing the chance for a damaging occurrence called “knock”. Still, most owner’s manuals will provide detail about your vehicle in particular and alert you if a lower octane rating is safe to use.
10. Be Your Own Roadside Assistance
We all hate being stranded on the side of the road and having to wait for help. One way to lessen that possibility is to carry a roadside emergency kit with you at all times. Include in the kit some coolant, oil, and power steering fluid for your vehicle. Common tools are also a good choice in addition to gloves and towels. In addition, always have an emergency kit for yourself that includes thermal blankets, water, and some small energy-dense foods that can be kept there for 6 months or so. Some have even gone so far as to include over-the-counter medications, two-way radios, and flares just in case they are ever needed.
11. Breathe A Little Easier
Modern vehicles come with at least two air filters, one for the engine and one for the cabin. Swapping both out on a regular basis will allow you and your car to breathe more easily. For you and your passengers, that means breathing air that isn’t polluted with all sorts of road debris, and for your car, that means allowing it to be more efficient. How’s that possible? Old clogged up air filters allow less air flow into the engine. Without the right balance of air and fuel, less fuel will be converted into power. That dip in power means that your engine will need more fuel to go the same distance as it would with a clean filter that allowed more air and thusly a more efficient combustion cycle.
12. Have A Gander
One of the most important things you can do is to make a regular habit of doing a walk around of your vehicle regularly. During the walk-around, turn on the vehicle and all the lights. If possible, place something on your brake light so that you can check it as well. This is also a good time to look for any new body damage, smoke coming from the exhaust, odd noises from the engine, and to check the condition of your tires.
13. Some Things Can Get Better
Regardless of how well we care for our cars, some things will wear out naturally. One thing that can improve is car insurance rates. Be sure to regularly compare different companies and the rates they’re offering to ensure you’re getting the best coverage and the best rates available. You never know when that extra money saved will come in handy. That rate you continue to pay since you purchased your ride may be substantially less at another insurer so shop around every once in a while.
14. Stay On Track
One tip to help you maintain the health of your suspension is to drive in a figure-eight pattern on a large open parking lot every few months. While turning be sure to notice any unusual sounds or strange feedback in the steering wheel and pedals. Sure, you might notice issues while on public roads but it’s also easy to get tricked into thinking there’s an issue when the road itself is simply in poor condition. In addition, by doing this test in an open parking lot you remove the potential danger of other motorists and unexpected obstacles on the road itself. Plus it’s fun.
15. Check Battery Before Engine
Many modern cars utilize incredibly complex computer systems throughout the vehicle. For many of those models, check engine lights can be triggered by a battery that is falling just below the expected voltage. The battery itself may still start the car and maintain a charge during most driving but the slight dip in power can cause some components to report issues. If you’ve experienced a check engine light that returns even after addressing the reported code, get your battery and alternator tested to ensure that they’re not an issue. Most auto parts stores and many automotive repair shops will test a battery and alternator for free so be sure to take full advantage if you want.
You can go ahead and take care of some of those repairs yourself without paying a premium to a mechanic for labor. Some simple repairs include replacing air filters and wiper blades. CarTalk mentions several DIY tips on how you can Service Your Car.
We have summarized your car’s talking points below. Again, take time to perform that solid used car or pre purchase inspection. At POMCAR, pre purchase car inspections are all we do. Our experienced techs can inspect that used car you are considering or the one sitting in your driveway Check us out at
www.pomcar.com as well as the benefits of having an inspection performed … The POMCAR Pre Purchase Inspection: What a Trained Inspector can Tell You About a Vehicle
CAR TALK CHECKLIST
|Paint Condition||Wax and detail||Once every six months|
|Tire Lifespan||Rotate Tires||At each oil change|
|Leather Upholstery||Condition with Lanolin Products||Each month|
|Maintenance Records||Chart all notable events||In accordance with work|
|Brake Replacement||Listen for a brake squeal||Change when squeal first starts|
|Compounding suspension issues||Fix suspension problems immediately||Upon first discovery of a problem|
|Dim Headlight Bulbs||New bulbs||Check performance every 2 years|
|Hazy Headlight Lenses||Lens Restoration||As needed|
|Correct Fuel Usage||Check owner’s manual||As needed|
|Roadside Assistance||Create and keep emergency kit in car||Always, replenish as needed.|
|Breathe Easier||Replace Cabin & Engine Air Filters||As needed|
|Walkaround||Visually inspect car||Weekly|
|Checking Steering||Figure-eight driving in an open parking lot||Quarterly or when something feels off.|
|Check Engine Light||Check Battery first||As needed.|