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6 Costly Car Repairs That Are Totally Avoidable

Little Mistakes That Can Lead To Big Car Repair Bills

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be taken as a replacement for following your owners manual or the advice of a certified mechanic. These tips are a culmination from various sources widely available on the internet.

As anyone who’s ever owned a car knows, they are a huge financial responsibility. Aside from the initial purchase price, there’s insurance, gasoline, and of course, repairs and maintenance.

While some car repairs are unavoidable, there are others that are totally avoidable if you take proper care of your vehicle. Here are a few of the most costly car repairs that are avoidable with some simple preventive maintenance.

Never Ignore The Check Engine Light

Ignoring the check engine can lead to major engine damage that could have easily been avoided had the problem been addressed immediately. There are many reasons the light comes on such as a loose gas cap, bad oxygen sensor, or failed catalytic converter.

Failing To Replace The Batter When Needed

Depending on the battery's condition, most last anywhere from three to five years. If you're still driving on the original battery that came with the car, chances are it needs to be replaced. Modern vehicles are full of electronic features that put a strain on the electrical system, and an old battery will struggle to keep up.

If your battery is drained, it will take longer for your starter to turn over. Your vehicle now draws more electricity, and the alternator kicks in to throw additional amps at the battery in order to recharge it. All those things drawing current can be affected by the spikes and lows over time.

It's easy to eliminate a lot of electrical problems by replacing the battery when needed

Not Maintaining Proper Fuel Level.

Electric fuel pumps are located in the fuel tank. Running the pump dry can damage it. The debris from the bottom of the tank will also get into the fuel filter and clog it. This will reduce fuel flow to the engine and cause all sorts of drivability problems.

If you allow the fuel level to constantly run lower than a quarter tank full, you run the risk of having  to replace the fuel pump sooner than necessary. It sounds weird but gasoline has a cooling effect on the fuel pump, and running low all the time could potentially shorten its lifespan

Unnecessary Transmission Flushes

If you know the history of your car, it may be okay to do transmission flushes just as your preventative maintenance suggests. However If you don't know the history and the car is running fine, then you might reconsider getting it done.

When you fill your car with new transmission fluid, it has specially designed detergent in it to keep a transmission clean. The issue is that it can break loose debris already present in the transmission resulting in a clogged filter. If the filter gets clogged, it will restrict fluid flow and cause all sorts of problems.

Not Using The Proper Tire Size

Whether it's a spare tire or just buying tires not rated for your vehicle, putting the wrong size tire on your car will cause problems. The spare tire is rated for a limited amount of miles and speed, so you should only use it in an emergency situation.

When you drive with mismatched tire sizes, it can cause the vehicle's differential to think that the smaller tires are slipping. It then tries to compensate by sending more power to the wheels, which can cause even more tire slippage and eventually lead to differential failure.

Kicking Ice & Sludge To The Curb

You may just do it without thinking but kicking ice and sludge off your car's bumper, fender and doors can cause cracks or damage to plastic moldings. Think about it this way. When the temperature gets below freezing plastic can become very brittle.

So if you're tempted to kick your bumper, Don't. It could easily crack and need to be replaced. The same goes for plastic moldings and door handles. If possible wait for warmer temperatures, spray it off with a high pressure water nozzle at a car wash or just gently use a soft bristle brush.

Diary Of A Car - Don't Bug Me

A Tough Day In The Neighborhood

I'm just a car trying to get from Point A to Point B minding my own business. The next thing you know a swarm of bugs come out of nowhere and start running into me. Now I'm covered in bugs. Aren't bugs supposed to be attracted to light, so why are they attacking me during the day.?

I try to shake them off, but they just keep coming. I honk my horn and swerve from side to side, but nothing seems to deter them. Finally, I pull into a parking lot and come to a stop.

I really hate bugs. They're always getting in my way and ruining my day. I wish they would just leave me alone. But no, they just keep coming and coming. I can't even go for a drive without them attacking me.

It's not fair. There's a big mess to clean up. I don't know why they did it, but it was really annoying.

Good thing my owner knows how to get rid of them.

How To Remove Bugs From Your Car

Keeping a car washed and clean can help some to prevent bugs from sticking to the paint and making a mess. Waxing the car will also make it harder for bugs to stick.

If your car is already covered in bugs, here are a few ways you can remove them:

  • Try to remove them as soon as possible. If they are left to dry, they will be harder to remove.

  • Use a garden hose or a high pressure sprayer to rinse off as many of the bugs as possible.

  • Apply a commercial bug remover that you can find at most auto stores. Typically you apply the solution to the bugs with a sponge and scrub until they come off.

Preventative Measures

It's always best to take preventive measures to avoid bugs in the first place. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Regularly clean your windshield and front of the car so that bugs are less likely to stick.

  • Keep your car waxed so that bugs have a harder time sticking to the paint.

  • Install a bug deflector on the front of your car.

How To Clean Your Car - It's All In The Details!

Top Hacks To Clean Your Car Inside & Out

Does your car feel old and tired? The upholstery appears a little tattered, and the formerly gleaming windows are now…well, not so shiny. Sure, you could pay someone to clean your car—or save money by cleaning it yourself.

You can use these tried and true cleaning hacks to get your car clean, both inside and out. After researching we found some great websites that go into great detail. Be sure to visit them for more great tips

How to Clean and Restore Car Headlights

After a few years of usage, the plastic in car headlights oxidizes, causing them to become hazy and yellowish. That film can cause you not to see as well when driving at night. You can use this headlight restoration technique to clean and restore your headlights.

According to Family Handyman there is an easy 4 step process that will restore your headlights

Step 1 - Wash and Sand Horizontally

  • Wash the cloudy headlight with warm soapy water.

  • Rinse with plenty of clear water, then let it dry.

  • Then mask the area around the lens so you don't scratch the paint.

  • Soak the sheets of sandpaper in water, then start with the grit that suits your situation.

Sand in one direction.

With sandpaper, the higher the number, the finer the grit. If the headlight is just dull or yellowed, start with the 1,500 grit and work up to the 2,500 grit. If there are light scratches, start with the 1,000-grit paper.

Step 2 - Rinse and Sand Vertically

Rinse and change direction with the next grit. Keep doing this until you're finished with the 2,500-grit paper.

Step 3 - Buff the Lens with Polish

  • Wash the headlight with plenty of clear, cool water and dry.

  • Wet one corner of the flannel cloth with the polishing compound.

  • Using firm pressure, polish the headlight in a circular pattern until it becomes smooth and clear.

Step 4 - Polish the Lens

  • Allow the polish to dry, then use the clean end of the cloth to buff off any polish residue.

  • Repeat the polishing process.

  • Depending on the damage to the headlamp, small areas may still appear foggy. Try re-polishing only those spots with a polishing compound. Buff the area again and inspect. The lens should look perfectly clear!

  • To keep foggy headlights clear, wash often with a mild detergent and a soft-bristle brush or sponge, flush with plenty of water and dry.

Never clean clear plastic with wax, polish or any chemical that's not formulated for the task. And that is how to clean headlights yourself!

Credit: Family Handyman

 

How To Clean Your Car Windows Streak Free

The key to getting your car windows clean and streak free is all about the tools and techniques you use. The great news is that it's not difficult to do, and once you learn how, you'll be able to get your car windows looking amazing in no time.

  1. Use a clean, soft microfiber cloth or towel to avoid scratches.

  2. When using a cleaning solution, make sure work in small sections

  3. Start at the top and work your way down

  4. Use a quality glass cleaner

  5. Wipe in a circular motion

  6. Use a second clean microfiber cloth to dry

  7. Polish with a third clean microfiber cloth

How To Clean The Dashboard

The best things to clean your car dashboard according to DetailCentralAve are.

  • Vacuum with Attachment

  • Soft Microfiber Cloth

  • Water and Mild Soap

  • Toothbrush or Soft Paint Brush

  • Polish

To begin, use your vacuum with brush attachments to vacuum the dash. Attempt to pick up any dust or debris on the dash.

Next, take a soft microfiber cloth, dipped in water, to wipe down your dash. If the interior of your car is particularly grimy, fill a bowl with warm water and mild soap. Use this to wipe the dashboard, steering wheel, hand brake, and interior plastic of your vehicle.

Likely, it will be difficult to clean in the small crevices and vents. Use a toothbrush, soft paintbrush, or designated dash brush to gently remove dirt. Be careful so you don’t scratch the delicate parts of your car.

Once your dash is clean and dry – you can use another dry microfiber cloth to rub down the dash if needed – you can add shine by polishing it. You can pick up a wide variety of polishes at automotive parts stores. Pick the polish of your choice and put a small amount onto a clean and dry cloth, then rub the cloth over the dash. Repeat until the entire dashboard is polished. You can polish the center console as well. If there is excess polish when you’ve finished, remove with a dry cloth.

Credit: DetailCentralAve

How To Remove Dead Bugs From Your Car's Exterior

The paint on your car's exterior is delicate. When you drive, bugs hit your car and can leave behind stains or etchings in the paint. You may not notice them right away, but over time these can become more visible and difficult to remove.

To remove dead bugs from your car's exterior, start by washing the area with soap and water. Then, using a soft cloth or sponge, gently scrub the affected area in a circular motion. If the stain is still visible, you can try using a mild abrasive cleaner or rubbing alcohol. Be sure to test any cleaner on an inconspicuous area of your car's exterior first to avoid damaging the paint.

Once you've removed the dead bug stains, be sure to wash and wax your car regularly to protect the paint and keep your car looking its best.



Stuck On The Side Of The Road - You're Not Alone

Emergency Roadside Kits - A Friend When You Need One

We've all been there before. You're driving along, minding your own business, when suddenly you get a flat tire. Or your engine starts making strange noises. Whatever the problem is, it's a pain - and it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient time.

That's where emergency roadside kits come in. A good roadside kit can help you get out of a bind, no matter what kind of trouble you find yourself in. Whether you're on a road trip or just driving to work, it's important to have all of the supplies you need in case of an emergency.

It's not just you who will benefit from an emergency roadside kit. if you ever have to help another driver who is stranded, you'll be glad you have a kit to lend them. They will appreciate the fact that you were prepared and able to help them in their time of need.

What should you include in your emergency roadside kit?

  • Flashlight, flares, and reflective triangles will help other motorists see your car

  • A first aid kit is an essential part of any emergency roadside kit. Be sure to include items such as bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers. Check for expiration dates on your supplies periodically.

  • Jumper cables. One of the best options is a self contained jump box that doesn't require another car. They typically contain charging cables for phones and other small electronics, too.

  • A tire inflator can help if you have a flat tire. You may also want to include a small can of fix-a-flat.

  • A quart of oil and a gallon of coolant will help if your car starts to overheat

  • Tools like a screwdriver, pliers, and a wrench will come in handy if you need to make minor repairs

  • A blanket. Although you would think this would only be necessary in the winter, a blanket can actually be helpful all year round. If you have a breakdown at night, the blanket will keep you warm until help arrives. Also hypothermia can set in quickly, even on a warm day.

  • Small umbrella. In case you get stranded in the rain, an umbrella will help keep you dry

Emergency roadside kits can be a lifesaver when you find yourself in an emergency on the road. They are perfect for any vehicle, whether it's your own car or someone else who needs help and is stranded by the side of the highway.

Every situation is different, so you'll need to use your best judgment when deciding what to include in your roadside kit. But these items are a good place to start. With a little bit of preparation, you'll be ready for whatever the road throws your way.

Got stuck on the side of the road one too many times? Well, you're certainly not alone. In fact, research shows that 1 in every 4 drivers will experience a car breakdown at some point this year.

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Car Maintenance Tips

Properly maintaining your car is key to keeping it in top condition. It can also help ensure your safety, the safety of your passengers and your fellow drivers. Here are some ways to help keep your car running smoothly.

The Car Maintenance Checklist

Consider adding these items to your vehicle maintenance "to do" list:

Inspect and Maintain Tires

Knowing how to maintain your car's tire pressure can help reduce wear on the tires and helps ensure you're getting good gas mileage. Checking your tire pressure includes finding the recommended pressure, checking the PSI and inflating or deflating your tires accordingly.

A flat tire is a hazard that can be dangerous to you and your car. There are several preventative steps you can take to help avoid a blowout, including rotating your tires every 5,000 to 10,000 miles and watching for tire recalls.

Change the Oil

Routinely checking and changing your car's oil is essential to keeping its engine in running condition. Check your oil each month and change it as directed in the car's owner's manual.

You can change your oil yourself or take it to a service center. If you choose to do it yourself, learn the necessary steps to drain the fluid, set the correct oil level and dispose of old oil.

You should also know which type of motor oil is best for your car, regardless of whether you change the oil yourself or take it to a service center. This generally means considering three things — the oil viscosity, whether to use synthetic versus non-synthetic oil and your car's mileage.

Check the Fluids

There are several fluids that should be kept at the appropriate levels to help keep your car running properly. According to Popular Mechanics, you or your mechanic should check:

  • Engine oil

  • Coolant

  • Power steering fluid

  • Brake fluid

  • Transmission fluid

A leak with any of these fluids can affect the way your car drives. If you spot a leak, you may be able to identify the fluid by its color. This can help you and your mechanic determine where the leak is coming from. It can also help speed up the repair process.

Test the Lights

A broken or burnt-out bulb is a safety hazard and might get you a ticket. Learn how to thoroughly inspect each bulb on your car. If a bulb is out, take your car to an expert to determine whether it's the bulb or the fuse that needs replacing.

Headlights are key safety lights on your car. Consider taking a few extra steps to help keep them shining bright, such as cleaning the lenses and replacing bulbs as they start to dim.

Replace Windshield Wipers

If your wipers aren't working like they used to, don't let the problem linger. Damaged or worn out blades can reduce visibility during a heavy rain or a snowstorm. Knowing how to inspect your wiper blades regularly and replace them when necessary is one way to help keep your car safe.

Change Your Engine Air Filter

A dirty engine air filter can allow dirt and other particulates into your car's engine and reduce its efficiency. Inspect your car's air filter once a year and replace it as needed.

Regular Checkups

Some routine car care tasks can be done at home, but others require trained technicians. Take your car to a technician if the check engine light comes on. Trained technicians can diagnose the problem through the car's on-board diagnostics (OBD-II) port.

A qualified repair shop will also be able to inspect and replace other core components like the alternator and the wheel bearings. Scheduling regular tune-ups will help ensure that your car gets other maintenance items repaired as well.

Have Your Brakes Checked

Your car's brake pads also require regular inspection. While driving, listen for any brake noise and pay attention to shuddering or vibrating from the brake pedal. If any concerns arise, consult a service center as soon as possible

Wash Your Car

Your car is subjected to all sorts of elements, from road salt and ice melt in the winter to tree sap and bird droppings in the summer. Some of these hazards are not only unsightly but can cause damage to paint and the undercarriage, according to AccuWeather.

Keeping your car clean may help prevent long-term damage. Find the car washing method that works for you and regularly wash your car.

Check Belts and Hoses

Keeping your car's belts and hoses in good shape can help keep your car running and may help you avoid a breakdown on the road. For example, if your serpentine belt breaks while you're driving, it may cause many of your car's systems to fail.

Having your belts and hoses checked at every oil change will help ensure that they're in good condition and don't need replacing.

Review Your Car Insurance

Just like regular car checkups, it's a good idea to review your car insurance policy from time to time. This can help ensure your policy's coverages, limits and deductibles are up-to-date and suitable for your current situation.

Keeping your car in good shape can help keep you and your passengers safe. And remember, if you're ever unsure about how to inspect or replace a car part, be sure to contact a local mechanic for help.

Article Originally published allstate.com

How to protect your car from rust

Rust never sleeps: Here's how you can protect your car

No matter what type of automotive rustproofing protection you favour (electronic, one-time spray, factory coating or annual treatments) there are large gaps in warranty coverage from even the best companies out there. First things first; if you operate a vehicle on public roads 12 months of the year, there really is no such thing as rustproofing. About the best we can hope for is to slow down Mother Nature’s ravage of our daily drivers so that the loan payments end before the sheet metal. We really can’t stop rust altogether.

All rustproofing suppliers offer pretty much the same warranty; they will repair or replace outer sheet metal panels if rusted through from inside/out and if all other guarantee conditions have been met (annual inspections, reapplications, etc.). But what about all the other steel and iron on the vehicle? Cast iron and steel suspension and steering components, fuel and brake fluid lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and straps can all be affected by rust and can bring major repair bills. Is there anything we can do to extend the life of these components?

1. Park carefully. Parking your vehicle on grass, dirt, snow or poorly drained surfaces is just asking for rust to come and take up permanent residence in your vehicle. As our vehicles spend most of their idle time at our place of residence, tackling the home-parking front can go a long way to keeping rust at bay. If you think investing in a driveway improvement is too expensive, ask your regular repair garage for some cost estimates on replacing brake rotors, exhaust systems, suspension control arms, fuel tank and the like and you’ll quickly find the financial justification. Don’t rest easy if your parking lane is paved. Old cracked asphalt surfaces can provide just as much moisture to the undercarriage of your chariot as a dirt field in spring. Even applying a layer of asphalt sealer can help out.

2. Keep it clean. Most of us like to keep the paint work and interior of our vehicles clean, but what about the underbelly? If you drive on gravel or dirt roads or take an off-road adventure from time to time, the mud and gunk that can collect underneath your vehicle will act as a moisture trap increasing the speed with which your wheels will head to the scrap yard. Check horizontal surfaces under the car/truck such as control arms, skid-plates, axles, etc. from time to time and do a little down-and-dirty cleaning when needed. If you don’t have a pressure washer, a garden hose and stiff brush will do. You may have to jack the vehicle to improve clearance, so make sure you take the necessary precautions with proper jack supports and wheel chocks and have a spotter standing by.

3. Keep it full. One of the most expensive repairs a driver can face because of rust is the replacement of a fuel pump module (the electric fuel pump and level sender unit located in the tank). While the interior parts of this piece (which can range in price from $300-$1500 plus labour) are well protected, its metal top plate and output lines are very exposed and prone to rusting. Fuel tanks and their parts can be attacked from two sources of moisture leading to rust. The first is external and the second is internal condensation caused by the difference between liquid fuel and outside air temperatures in a humid environment. Keeping the fuel tank topped off during the wet seasons can help to reduce the condensation effect. It also provides better traction in snow and on icy surfaces.

4. Blow it clean. On trucks and SUVs with large fuel tanks, the dirt, dust, and road grime that can collect on the top of the tank can lead to premature rusting of the fuel pump module. The labour involved in periodically lowering the tank to inspect and clean off its top can be pricey and can make it hard to justify as a means of extending the life of the pump module. A safe DIY method involves spraying compressed air on top of the tank while it’s mounted in its location to dislodge any debris or gunk. Use safety goggles and go easy on the air nozzle trigger as small stones can hurt when propelled by compressed air.

5. Spray it on. While no rustproofing company will guarantee undercarriage components against rust, that’s not a reason to not have the more vulnerable iron and steel parts treated. You can purchase aerosol cans of rust inhibitors at most auto parts stores, or you can have the pros take care of it for you. If doing it yourself, avoid getting any spray on brake rotors, drums, linings, or calipers. Keep it off hot surfaces such as catalytic converters and exhaust components as well as away from electrical wiring and connectors. Don’t overdo it. It’s better to perform annual touch-ups rather than try to lather on enough protection for the next decade.

Article Originally published driving.ca

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