April is National Car Care Month, and for good reason. After a long winter, it’s time to wash off the season’s road sludge, stow the ice scraper, and get your car geared up for spring (did someone say road trip?) National Car Care Month reminds drivers to take care of any issues that may have popped up or been ignored throughout the winter, particularly before the heat of summer really takes off. Doing so can help keep you safe and your vehicle on the road longer, no matter the season. Summer, winter, spring or fall, check out these tips for keeping your engine alive and well for as long as possible, and see how you’re saving a little money while you’re at it!
Lighten up. Think about how long it takes you to run down the street (not in your car, but on your own two feet). Now, imagine how much slower you’d run with a heavy backpack. Not as fast, right? Turns out, your car is pretty similar!
“The more weight you ask your car to carry, the more fuel it burns, and the more wear and tear you put on every one of the mechanical components responsible for setting it in motion and stopping it again,” says Autobytel. Leave the extra weight at home, like those boxes of clothes you’ve been meaning to donate, the kids’ cold weather gear, and that set of long forgotten golf clubs.
Under pressure. Your tires have a lot to do with the rate at which your car consumes fuel and your overall safety. If they’re not at the optimal pressure, you could find yourself at the gas pump more often and be putting undue stress on the engine. Plus, your tires may wear prematurely, meaning they won’t last as long as the manufacturer intended.
As it turns out, the average driver ends up spending $500 or more a year on gasoline than they would if they kept their tires properly inflated, says DoItYourself.com. For a maintenance tip that costs next to nothing to stay on top of, you could end up saving a pretty good chunk of change!
Keep it moving. An idle car burns out your engine without even going anywhere. Not only does it waste fuel, but it also strips oil from critical components that help your engine run smoothly, like the cylinders and pistons. Less oil equals more friction between engine parts, more wear and tear, and a shorter life for your engine.
Plus, less idling means you may be able to stretch the time between fill ups. According to EcoWatch‘s math, if you idle for 5 minutes warming up your car in the morning, 3 minutes at the fast food drive-thru, and 4 minutes listening to your favorite song in the driveway, you’ve burned enough gas to drive 24 miles.
Stay on schedule. A car that’s not regularly serviced won’t last as long as one that is, says Kiplinger. In fact, it might not even make it to 100,000 miles. Keep up with the small stuff, like changing air filters, changing your oil, and checking up on the engine, and your car will reward you. Stay on track by following the maintenance schedule specified in your owner’s manual and don’t ignore strange sights, smells, or sounds coming from your vehicle. Your car may be trying to communicate with you! Letting little problems turn into big ones could end up costing you in the long run.
Be gentle. Unlike J.J. Hightail’s ride, your car is not a race car and probably wasn’t intended to be driven like one. Hard stops and fast accelerations can put unnecessary stress on the braking system and prematurely wear out brake pads and rotors. Ease up on the acceleration and avoid slamming on the brakes if you can help it. And doughnuts? Leave ’em for the breakfast table, not the roads.
You can help your car last longer and run smoother by staying on top of preventative maintenance services, but also by adjusting your driving habits. Going the speed limit, double checking your blind spots, using your blinker, sticking to smooth acceleration and braking can not only help prevent accidents and auto insurance claims, but help keep your car in tip-top shape. Safe driving could also lead to big savings on car insurance at Direct Auto & Life Insurance with a safe driver discount of up to 10%. When you can help your car last longer AND save money on car insurance, it’s a win-win!