Bad Habits

When it comes to your car’s “health”, you may be have some bad habits that seem perfectly safe (and smart), but can actually hurt your car in the long run.

Most vehicles are designed to have long lifespans when properly taken care of. But sometimes you may not even be aware that what you’re doing may actually be hurting your car, reducing its lifespan and decreasing its value.

Carrying too much weight.

Just like carrying extra weight around the midsection is bad for your health, hauling too much weight in your car is bad for its suspension, braking and exhaust systems. Having too much weight in your car can put unnecessary stress on some of its critical systems, leading to premature wear. Too much weight makes your engine work harder than it should.

What you can do: Take a look at what’s in your car. Can you remove some of it? Does that cargo carrier really need to stay on your car on a day-to-day basis, or can it be removed until needed? If there are items that can be removed to decrease the weight (and stress) on your car, do it now.

Ignoring a tiny chip in the windshield.

You notice a tiny, speck-like chip in the corner of your windshield. It’s not in your line of sight, so it’s no big deal to ignore it. Right? Wrong. That tiny speck can easily turn into a giant crack – and the need for a full windshield replacement – if it’s ignored. Not to mention the cost of repairing a small windshield chip is usually much lower than the cost to replace an entire windshield.

What you can do: Get the chip repaired immediately.

Never replacing your tires.

Keeping an eye on your tires is critical to the health of your car. But don’t just look at your tire tread – also pay attention to your car’s tire pressure. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that underinflated tires are up to 25 percent more likely to overheat, fail and cause an accident. Tire tread is also important, since not having enough tread can cause skidding, shaky steering and vibrations. Even if your tires look fine to the naked eye, it doesn’t mean they are.

What you can do: Check your tire pressure and tread depth every so often. You can use a penny to check depth by inserting the ‘heads’ side down into the tread. If the entire head is visible, you don’t have enough tread. A good rule of thumb is keeping your tires at 2/32” tread depth minimum.

Keeping your car in a heated garage.

You’d think that keeping your vehicle toasty warm during the cold winters is a good thing – and it is for your car’s engine. But not so much for your vehicle’s exterior. When you park your snow or ice-covered car in a warm garage, the heat melts the fluids, which mix with salt from the roads. This combination then sits in puddles on or near your car, and this increases risk of oxidation (rusting).

What you can do: Instead of keeping your car in a heated garage, opt for a non-temperature controlled garage or covered space. Your vehicle will still be protected from harsh winter winds and snow, but it won’t succumb to melting salt, ice and rust.

Not doing research before an auto repair.

Your car’s maintenance is so much like the maintenance of your own health – it’s always smart to be informed. If you have no idea what’s going on with your car, how do you know how serious the repair will be? You also won’t know how long the repair will take or how much the bill will be. Being proactive with your car’s “health” is the best way to take care of it.

What you can do: Do your own research about symptoms of problems before you visit an auto mechanic. This way you’re somewhat prepared for the diagnosis and repair plan, you’re not caught off guard and most importantly, you’re not taken advantage of. Studies have shown that some auto mechanics take advantage of ignorance by charging more than they would for a more educated customer.

Your car’s health is similar to your own – so much so that you might be committing a few bad habits that you think are fine. The first step is to become educated, and the next is to scratch those old bad habits by forming new, better ones. Your car’s lifespan will surely benefit from the changes.

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