Simple Ways To Maintain Your New Car Purchase

One of the reassuring qualities of contemporary cars is that they need much less-frequent service to keep them running well. Changing the spark plugs, breaker points, and condenser used to be a seasonal exercise, and body rust was accepted as a normal if unfortunate hazard of aging. Now many spark plugs can go 100,000 miles between changes. Electronic ignition has done away with the points and condenser. Chassis, suspensions, and even some transmissions are lubed for life. And factory rust-through warranties typically run six years or longer. What’s more, reliability has improved significantly. The result is that most late-model cars and trucks should be able to go 200,000 miles with regular upkeep.

Here are a few simple, periodic checks and procedures you can do that will help you get there.

Check the Engine Oil

Do it regularly—monthly for a vehicle in good condition; more often if you notice an oil leak or find you need to add oil routinely. The car should be parked on level ground so you can get an accurate dipstick reading. Don’t overfill. And if you do have a leak, find and fix it soon.

Check Tire Air Pressure

Once a month and before any extended road trips, use an accurate tire-pressure gauge to check the inflation pressure in each tire, including the spare. Do this when the tires are cold (before the vehicle has been driven or after no more than a couple of miles of driving). Use the inflation pressure recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer, not the maximum pressure embossed on the tire’s sidewall. The recommended pressure is usually found on a placard on a front doorjamb, in the glove compartment, or in the owner’s manual. Also be sure to inspect tires for abnormal or uneven wear, cuts, and any sidewall bulges you can see.

CR advises that digital tire-pressure gauges (which cost about $15 to $25) are probably the best bet overall because they will give an accurate reading or none at all. Many pencil-type gauges (typically $10 to $15) are good as well. Note that to check the pressure in a temporary spare tire, which is often 60 psi, you will need a gauge that goes higher than that—say from 0 up to 90 pounds.Wash the Car

Try to wash the car every week, if you can. Wash the body and, if necessary, hose out the fender wells and undercarriage to remove dirt and road salt. It’s time to wax the finish when water beads become larger than a quarter.

Other Checks at Each Oil Change

For normal driving, many automakers recommend changing the engine oil and filter every 7,500 miles or six months, whichever comes first. This is sufficient for the majority of motorists. For “severe” driving—with frequent, very cold starts and short trips, dusty conditions, or trailer towing—the change interval should be shortened to every 3,000 miles or three months. (Check your owner’s manual for the specific intervals recommended for your vehicle.) Special engines such as diesels and turbocharged engines may need more-frequent oil changes.

Check the Air Filter
Remove the air-filter element and hold it up to a strong light. If you don’t see light, replace it. Regardless, follow the recommended service intervals.

Check the Constant-Velocity-Joint Boots
On front-wheel-drive and some four-wheel-drive vehicles, examine these bellowslike rubber boots, also known as CV boots, on the drive axles. Immediately replace any that are cut, cracked, or leaking. If dirt contaminates the CV joint it can quickly lead to an expensive fix.

Inspect the Exhaust System
If you’re willing to make under-car inspections, check for rusted-through exhaust parts that need replacing. Also tighten loose clamps. Do this while the car is up on ramps. If a shop changes your oil, have them make these checks. Listen for changes in the exhaust sound while driving. It’s usually advisable to replace the entire exhaust system all at once rather than to repair sections at different times.

Look at the Brakes
For most people it makes sense to have a shop check and service the brakes. If you handle your own brake work, remove all wheels and examine the brake system. Replace excessively worn pads or linings, and have badly scored rotors or drums machined or replaced. The brakes should be checked at least twice per year; more often if you drive a lot of miles.

Check the Fluids
On many newer cars, the automatic transmission is sealed. On cars where it is not sealed, check the transmission dipstick with the engine warmed up and running (see the owner’s manual for details). Also check the power-steering-pump dipstick (it’s usually attached to the fluid-reservoir cap) and the level in the brake-fluid reservoir. If the brake-fluid level is low, top it up and have the system checked for leaks.

Clean the Radiator
Prevent overheating by removing debris with a soft brush and washing the outside of the radiator with a detergent solution.

Check the Battery
Inspect the battery’s terminals and cables to make sure they are securely attached, with no corrosion. If the battery has removable caps, check its fluid level every few months—especially in warmer climates.

Regular Maintenance For Every Two to Four Years

Drain and Flush the Cooling System
Considering the hassle of collecting and safely disposing of old antifreeze, you may want to leave this to a shop.

Change the Automatic-Transmission Fluid
Many models require that you replace the fluid and filter every 36,000 miles—sooner if the normally pink fluid takes on a brownish tint. With some cars the fluid and, if applicable, the filter can go 100,000 miles or more. With other late models, the transmission fluid never needs to be changed. Check your owner’s manual for this information.

Replace the Drive Belts and Hoses
Do this every two to three years, even if they don’t show any wear. If a belt becomes noisy, have it adjusted.

Change the Timing Belt
If your vehicle has a belt instead of a chain, stick to the manufacturer’s recommended replacement interval—usually every 60,000 to 80,000 miles. Check the owner’s manual or consult a dealer. Failure to change the timing belt can result in a very expensive engine repair if the belt should break.

Spring Time Is Clean Your Car Time!

Many of us live a significant portion of our lives in the car, so we might as well consider it a mobile living room. Except it’s a living room that comes in constant contact with the germs and grit of the outside world. When considered as an extension of your home, you’d hope it would benefit from the same cleaning routine. But, we know this isn’t always the case.

If it’s been a while since the inside of car has seen a vacuum, there is evidence to suggest that your car may be carrying some unwanted passengers – of the microscopic variety. Freshen up the inside of your ride by trying out some of our clean-car tips below.

Conquer clutter.

It’s difficult to do a deep-clean of your vehicle with a vacuum and scrub brush when clutter is in the way. Clutter not only gives dirt and bacteria more surfaces to live on, but it can be distracting to drivers. And stressful. Removing excess clutter is the very first step to taking pride in your ride.

Resist the road snacks.

We can all appreciate the value of a good car snack. And with your eyes on the road, you may not notice just how many crumbs are getting lost in your car. These crumbs, and yesterday’s half-finished coffee (it’s ok, you don’t have to admit it), fuel the growth of bacteria. If you can’t resist the road snacks, try to minimize the evidence. Remove food wrappers or trash right away, make sure drink containers are spill-proof, and vacuum in the deep cracks and crevices with a thin, telescoping vacuum attachment.

Keep your child seats clean.

Fun fact: those iconic fish-shaped crackers are the number one item found in children’s car seats. On a smaller scale, car seats also carry an average of 100 different types of microscopic passengers. Always check with the car seat manufacturer prior to cleaning, and pick a time when it won’t be needed for 12-24 hours, so it has ample time to dry. Take a picture of the set-up before removing from your vehicle, and rely on the manufacturer’s guide and your picture to be sure the car seat is re-installed correctly.

Let the fresh air in.

When your cabin air filter is dirty or clogged, it actually makes the air quality inside your car worse than the air outside. A dirty filter traps dust, pollen, and exhaust fumes inside your vehicle. What’s more, over time a restricted air filter can cause issues with the vehicle’s HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) system. Ask your dealership or take a look at your owner’s manual to determine how often your cabin air filter should be replaced. Most should function well for 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Make an appointment with your dealership to get a new filter installed.

Tips On Buying A Car With Bad Credit

If you have previous credit problems on your record and need to purchase a car, you may need to apply for what is called a bad credit used car loan. A bad credit used car loan will allow you to purchase a vehicle, but you will usually be expected to pay it off in a shorter time frame and at a higher rate of interest.

Today many traditional car lenders are offering extended payment terms; some allow you up to seven years to pay off the vehicle. A bad credit used car loan usually must be repaid within a 48-month time frame. Since the vehicle you are buying is used and your amount financed will be less, the lender expects the loan to be paid off in a shorter amount of time.

Research the Prices of Used Cars

Before making an offer on a used car, you should research the average price value. By doing this you will know if a dealer has inflated the price in order to make an excessive profit. You will want to make sure you are purchasing the car from a reputable dealership.

There are a lot of companies who do most of their business with customers who have less than perfect credit scores. Some of these dealers may try to take advantage of customers. Just because you have had credit problems in the past, this does not mean you should pay an outrageous amount in interest rates or other fees.

Shop Online For a Lender

Online auto loan lenders make applying for a loan quick and convenient. By applying online you will have access to several lenders and their rates. Applications for online auto loans can be filled out in just a short time and the approval is almost always granted the same day.

An important point to remember when applying for a used car loan on bad credit is that banks have limits to how old of a vehicle you can purchase. The majority of banks will not grant loans to vehicles more than four or five years old. You should also try to make a substantial down payment when purchasing a used car. This will lower both the interest rate you are charged and the length of the loan.

Ultimate Checklist for Buying A New Car

If you are thinking about buying a new car you need to know what to look for so you don’t buy a lemon. Buying a used car should be easy and a pleasant experience. Below is a quick checklist of things you should look for when you buy a new or used car.

 

☐ Electrical components- Check the AC, radio, heat, and other components in the vehicle. That way there are no surprises when you get it home.

 

☐ Engine Oil Cap -Open the engine oil cap and look inside for oil sludge-the thick black build-up on internal parts.

 

☐ Battery- Check for acid wear and tear around the battery as this indicates that the car has not been maintained properly.

 

☐ Leaks – After the test drive, park the car on a clean surface for at least 30 minutes. Check that there are no oil leaks from the engine or gearbox.

 

☐ Engine- The engine should purr and not make any spluttering or knocking noises, especially while changing gears.

☐ Brakes- Apply brakes at the speed of 30-40 mph to check that the car stops in a straight line. Take the car on a slope and apply the handbrake to ensure that it’s working properly.

☐ Tires- Look for wear and tear as well as the alignment. If tyres are not in a good condition, there is a chance of bargaining for up to Rs 1,000.

☐ Exhaust- Emission of blue smoke when you start the car may indicate engine problems. Black smoke means the engine consumes too much fuel, which could be due to a problem with the fuel injection.

☐ Paint – Any deviation in the paint work of the body of the car indicates that it had been in an accident and had required repair work.

Make sure to print out this checklist and take it to the dealership with you. It is easy to get caught up in the moment and forget important details.

Why Is The Batter Light On?

If the battery warning light (a light in the shape of a battery) comes on while you’re driving, that means the charging system isn’t working, but the fault may lie in something other than the battery.

The cause could be a loose or corroded battery cable or other wire connecting components of the charging system, or it might be a problem with the alternator or voltage regulator. The alternator generates the power that is stored in the battery. If the alternator fails, or the accessory belt that drives the alternator is loose or broken, then your battery isn’t being recharged.

The battery itself may be the cause if it has corroded cable terminals, damaged cells or plates inside or if it is leaking electrolyte.

The charging system warning light should come on for a few seconds when you start the car, but if it turns on while you’re driving, that signals a problem. Among other signs that the charging system isn’t working are dim headlights or if the clock loses time.

If the light comes on, you might be able to make it home or to a service facility. The car will continue running as long as some juice is left in the battery, but if the charging system isn’t working, your car will stop running once the battery is drained. If you turn off the engine, you won’t be able to restart it if the battery doesn’t have enough power left to run the starter motor.

If the light is on, and you’re still driving, turn off as many electrical accessories as you can, such as the stereo, air conditioning or heater, and avoid using electrically operated controls such as power windows. Reducing the amount of electricity the car is consuming will increase the distance you can drive before the battery is discharged. Get to a mechanic as quickly as possible, and have the charging system checked out to find the cause of your problem.