Memorial Day is the historical marker for the beginning of summer driving season. Before you head out on that trip, it’d be wise to read up on these preventative maintenance and driving tips.
Don’t ignore them, especially the orange, yellow, or red ones that read “check engine.” Or you can, if you want, and chance that what could have been a simple fix turns into a blown head gasket and thus, several thousand dollars in repairs. If you get a light on the dash, have it checked out, it could be something really simple like a loose gas cap.
We all take car batteries for granted, expecting them to just work, all the time, every time, and in every situation. So if you’ve had a busy, or an extremely not busy winter, the changing seasons may have an effect on your battery.
•Terminals: Those red and black battery clamps are fastened onto metal nub things. Those are the terminals. If you see chalky growth formations that resemble Mount Rushmore or the Starship Enterprise, then you need to clean your connections.
•Charging: If you need to wake your slumbering auto from a winter beauty rest, it’s possible you may have an undercharged or fully discharged battery. So, don’t do that. Instead, next winter, consider connecting your battery to charger or simply unplugging the battery for the period of inactivity/inebriation.
•Noises: Panic. Or, just take your battery to a trained specialist. Especially if it is older than three years, or shows signs of being weak or undercharged.
You want to stop, right? This is a no-brainer. You can’t be lazy on this one. Most dealerships and repair facilities will do a free brake inspection. Of course, many places are going to try to get you to buy new pads, and you really should—if your pads are screeching and have no life left.
You really should rotate them often. If one part of the tread is more worn than another side—which WILL impact handling in inclement weather like rain and snow, and conditions like sand and debris—consider ponying up for new rubber. If you do that, and even if you don’t, consider getting your tires balanced and your suspension aligned. It’s important for safety to have the all of the tire’s tread have even contact upon the road surface.
Gas is expensive
Drive smoothly and in your highest fuel-efficient gear (usually fourth, fifth, or sixth gears), and at a steady pace. Time your stoplights and stop signs with gradual braking and acceleration.
•Windows, not A/C: I’m a fan of windows down around town when safe. Enjoy the weather. That said, if conditions permit, use the fan and not the A/C while driving. It’ll save load on the engine, but if you have to use A/C, use the “recirculation” instead of drawing in outside ambient air. Experts say this increases your fuel economy, so there’s that, too.
•Utilize technology: Most new cars are equipped with on-board computers that track your vehicle’s MPG in real-time. Studies by smart people in white coats show that monitoring these devices while driving makes you more conscious of increasing your mileage, but there are other things, too, like mobile apps, like Gas Buddy, Cheap Gas!, and Beat the Traffic, to help you plan your route. Really, you can save time and money! Pay close attention at different speeds. You will be shocked how your gas mileage will rise as you slow from 75 miles per hour to 65.