Weekly auto rail, with car-care tips, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
By doing the little things to maintain your car on a day-to-day basis, you can do everything in your power to make your car last long past the day you make your final payment on that car loan.
"Time and miles are the two forces fighting to destroy every car," says Tom Taylor, engineer and vice president of RockAuto.com. "Giving the car an occasional wash and wax is nice but really not as important as regular maintenance. Driving and maintaining your car as if it needs to last for at least 200,000 miles or 20 years is a smart way to preserve the value of an expensive asset."
- Storage: If you have a garage, make it your car's permanent home. Reserving a garage space for your car instead of household items that could be stored elsewhere will help you avoid the accelerated wear and tear caused by prolonged exposure to the elements.
If you store your car in a partially protected carport or use a car cover, regularly inspect underneath your hood for signs of vermin. "I recently needed to replace a fuel injector connector that a rat gnawed off our 20-year-old family van after it was left unattended in a carport for just a few days," says Taylor. "Rats and mice like a nice warm engine bay and they chew constantly to wear down their ever-growing teeth."
- Scheduled maintenance: Your car's maintenance, engine oil, radiator antifreeze and other components might differ significantly from your last car. Following the maintenance schedule laid out in your owner's manual is important to protect your vehicle. Making sure items like filters, struts and brake pads are replaced when needed will help protect other components, saving you money and unnecessary wear.
- Drive smart: Occasionally kicking up your heels is fine, but consistently accelerating too fast can put unnecessary strain on your engine and other moving parts. Stopping or cornering too quickly can prematurely wear out your brakes and suspension. If you're starting your car in the cold, take it easy at first - letting your car idle won't help protect your car, but driving a little more methodically than usual while your car warms up will.
- Drive less: You don't need to cut out the annual family road trip - highway miles are among the easiest miles you can put on your car. But eliminating unnecessary trips in everyday life can have noticeable results since the starting and stopping associated with short trips can be tough on your car. Take care of all your errands in one trip, walk with your kids to school if it's close to home or ride the bus to and from work. If you can cut down on driving by five miles per day for 10 years, you'll save 18,000 miles of driving. Taylor estimates that those miles are worth $4,000 in parts, depreciation and gas. Not only will you save money, but you'll also put less stress on your vehicle, which should extend its lifespan.
According to Forbes, here are the safest cars of 2012:
BMW 5 Series
Infiniti EX 35
Did You Know
Ford’s white collar workers will get pay raises and bonuses this year, the first time that’s happened since 2008.
Q: What is your opinion on gasoline and oil additives for cleaning the fuel system and extra oil protection from the oil additives?
A: There are some applications when additives can be used and beneficial. For the majority of car owners there is no reason to add any additives to either gas or oil. If there is a problem with a vehicle, additives may help. For instance an engine that burns oil and has a tapping sound can benefit from an oil additive. As for gas additives, there are more than enough additives in today’s fuel without buying additional additives.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service