Since high school students constantly rely on their cars for transportation to and from school, work, practices, rehearsals, meetings, and weekend get-togethers, it is highly important that they know how to maintain their cars. By keeping the following tips from Bankrate and Reader’s Digest in mind, students can be sure that they are taking the proper steps to care for their cars.
- Stay away from the sediment. If there is a gasoline truck filling the underground tanks at the local gas station, either go to another gas station or come back later. When the tanks are being filled, sediment at the bottom of the tanks gets stirred up. If the sediment makes its way to a car, it can clog fuel filters, which will lead to poor performance and increase the need for repairs later.
- Keep the key chains at home. Sure, those key chains on your key ring might look cute or bring back memories from your last vacation, but their effect on your car probably doesn’t outweigh their benefit. A heavy key ring, along with the bouncing motion it makes while you drive, can cause the tumblers inside the ignition to wear out. This will lead to ignition switch failure. Also, getting rid of any keys that are not typically needed will ease the stress on the ignition switch.
- Listen for the click. If the gas cap is not tight enough, gas will evaporate from the car’s tank. Due to missing or broken gas caps, 174 million gallons of gas evaporate each year. Be sure to wait for the ‘click’ sound the gas cap will make when it is secured tightly.
- Refresh the air filters. Air filters can become clogged with dirt, dust, and bugs, making the engine work harder and the car less fuel efficient. Cleaning out the air filters every 3,000 miles, or on average every 3 months, can increase fuel efficiency by 10% and save up to 15 cents per gallon.
- Save the seals. Brush rubber protectant, such as Armor-All, on the door and window weatherstripping. This will help preserve the door and window seals and keep them in good condition.
- Wash it even in the winter. With the crazy Ohio winter weather, it may seem more practical to wait to wash a car until it is warmer outside. On the contrary, slush, ice, and road salt combined causes cars to rust. In fact, the most rust damage occurs when temperatures frequently rise and fall below freezing in a short span of time. Make it a priority to stop by the car wash or wash it by hand at home.
- Back down from the heat. It may be tempting to let the engine idle in the driveway to heat the car up in the morning, but beware; cars were not built to perform at their peak temperature. Running at temperatures that are too high results in incomplete fuel combustion and oil contamination. This means that the gas is burned too quickly and other chemicals are more likely to mix with the oil, decreasing the efficiency of the gas. Plus, it is a good idea to run the air conditioning a few times in the winter so the moving parts in the compressor are not permanently stuck in place when they are needed in the warmer months.
- Keep your cool. Unless one is car-savvy, opening the hood of a car can be intimidating. There are many tanks, gauges, and humming reservoirs. Among these, one of the important ones to be able to locate is the coolant reservoir. Check the coolant-antifreeze level biweekly. This reservoir in the radiator prevents the engine from overheating. If it is not up to the ‘full’ line, fill it with a 50/50 mix of coolant and water. Avoid mixing different types of coolants, as this will make the solution too thick to function properly.