7 Reasons Your Car is Falling Apart50 years ago, anyone with a manual, a socket set, and a garage could perform basic car repairs. Today’s cars are a lot more complicated, however, and interest in fixing your own car or doing your own maintenance has waned greatly over the decades. In fact, many people buy that first car with only a vague notion that it needs maintenance – beyond, perhaps, the occasional oil change.
The fact is your car can last you a long time, if you take care of it. There are specific maintenance activities you need to follow to make that happen. If you don’t, your car is going to fall apart:
- You didn’t check the oil. Notice that we didn’t say you didn’t “change” the oil. Most folks know well enough to get their oil changed every three months or every 3,000, but many folks don’t think to check it in between. Yet, if you have an oil leak the week after your oil change, driving it for the next two and a half months could completely destroy your engine. Some people like to check their oil weekly, while others do it monthly. The most important thing is to do it regularly. You’re not only looking for volume, you’re also looking for contaminants in the oil.
- You didn’t inflate your tires. We’ve heard a lot in the past year or two about how important it is to properly inflate your tires in order to get the best possible gas mileage. What you may not realize is that under- or over-inflated tires will cause other performance problems for your vehicle. Tires that aren’t properly inflated will wear unevenly, shortening your tire life and possibly throwing your car’s alignment out of whack. In some cases, they can even lead to an accident. Check your tire pressure regularly (again, monthly is probably fine although weekly is acceptable too). When your treads are worn down significantly, get them changed.
- You have damaged or substandard wiper blades. Hear us out on this one. Wiper blades aren’t, in themselves, a major mechanical issue for your vehicle. However, if you find yourself in a blinding snowstorm or downpour and your wipers can’t clear your windows, you’re asking for trouble. Your car might skid out of control and quite literally fall apart when you collide with another vehicle.
- You don’t wash your car. This is especially important for those who live in Northern climates, where local officials use salt to remove ice from the roads. That salt is corrosive. It’s eating away at the mechanical bits underneath your car. You can wash your car’s undercarriage with a garden hose, although chances are pretty good you’ve unhooked that hose for the winter anyways. You can mitigate salt damage by going through a car wash that includes an undercarriage wash cycle once a month (or more) during the winter.
- You didn’t get a tune up. Your spark plugs provide the basic reaction for your engine to run. If they’re not firing properly, your engine won’t fire properly. Moreover, it can cause serious damage over time. A tune-up will replace your spark plugs and their wires, as well as the PCV valve for vehicles that have them. You’ll want to have your mechanic check these items every 10,000 miles or so, and you’ll probably want to have a full tune-up done about every 30,000 miles.
- You didn’t fill your fluids. We mentioned oil first because it’s the most important fluid in your vehicle. However, your other fluids need to be check routinely and, often, topped off or replaced. This includes antifreeze, power steering fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid, and more. Your car’s manufacturer has recommended times for changing each of these fluids. By keeping your fluids fresh, you’ll keep other parts of your car from falling apart.
- You neglected your air filter and fuel filter. You car’s air filter lets your engine get the oxygen it needs in order to create combustion and move those pistons. The air filter keeps out contaminants that could mess up that process. The fuel filter keeps your fuel clean, and often clogs up with rust and will affect your fuel economy. These should both be changed regularly, as well.
Most of the time, cars don’t fail because of a major design flaw. In most instances, vehicles fall apart because they don’t get the care they need. Avoid these mistakes and you’ll enjoy that vehicle for years to come.
About the Author
Nick Simpson is Social Media Coordinator at Fred Loya Insurance. Fred Loya provides affordable auto insurance rates in New Mexico and unique services catered specifically to customers in multiple states.