September 14th 2011

Our 12 best car tips: for you and the car

You finally have a car that you absolutely love, and you don’t want to do anything to bring it down.

Here are our top 12 tips for maintaining the life of your car, keeping it new and healthy, and ensuring that what you bought is what you’ll have for years to come.

Oh, and keeping you safe, too.

 

Skip the at-home car wash

When you wash your car at home, you actually use almost 20 times MORE water than if you get it professionally done. But if you’re not worried about the environment (though, come on, you should be), you’re also damaging your car. Studies have shown that careful at-home car washing can still leave scratches in the paint. These scratches you’ll probably not see after a few washes, but they’ll come to fruition soon enough.

Take the time to adjust

When you have a seat in your car, make sure you adjust all of the mirrors so you can combat all of the blind spots. This will help you while driving, but also with any neck craning. Set the rearview mirror as you normally would, first. Next, tilt it upward slightly so you sit up straight. Once you’re done that, lean your head against the driver’s window, then set your left mirror so you can see the back corner of your car. Repeat on the other side: lean right to do the right mirror.

Watch for deer

It might sound funny, but wildlife can easily dart out in front of you, especially in rural areas. To avoid a collision, don’t swerve or panic. You have no idea which way the animal will go, and you might end up in a ditch, in a tree or, hopefully not, off a cliff.  If you have time before the possible impact, flash your headlights to try to scare the animal out of your path. If you know a collision is going to happen, brake with your steering wheel straight. At the last possible second, steer away from the animal to prevent it from crashing through your windshield.

Get out of stuck situations

If you’re sinking down into the mud, snow, or sand, here’s how to get out: lower the tire pressure down to about 5 or 6, and dig out space in front of the tires to give yourself a run. If there is still no get traction, put down some pieces of carpet. Note to self, keep carpet close by.

Head to neutral

When you’re at a stoplight, shift into neutral. It makes no difference for the transmission, but it does ease up on the engine. This makes a reduction in the amount of heat carried by the cooling system and can increase gas mileage a tick or two.

Learn to jump-start

Here’s a quick tip: If your battery terminals are corroded, use a can of cola and pour it directly onto the battery terminals. The acid in the cola acts to remove the corrosion, which improves both your connection and betters the odds of a successful jump-start. Once you return home,  run water over the battery to remove any excess cola and dry it with an old rag.

Keep those windows up

Yes, shutting off the air conditioning lowers fuel consumption, but only when you’re not on the highway. Keeping the windows open uses more gas because of the drag you’re putting on the car. To compromise, run the A/C in recirculation mode, which recycles some of the air from inside the car. This requires less energy than completely cooling the air that comes in from outside.

 

Drop the pounds

Whether it is you or your car, every 100 pounds you remove improves the car’s fuel economy by 1 to 2 percent. Instead of keeping a load in the trunk and backseat before you leave home, clear it out. If you do need to load up, don’t use the roof storage: this can increase fuel economy by as much as 5 percent.

Don’t get a ticket

Ever get caught speeding? Not a fun treat. Head over to speedtrap.org to find user-submitted lists of speed traps all over the country.

Keep it full

Especially during the colder months, keep your gas tank more than half full. Once it goes past, any void above the fuel in your tank will fill with moist air, which condenses to water in the cold. This can settle in the bottom of the tank, and if enough accumulates, it’ll go right to the engine.

Use your seatbelt

Might be snug, uncomfortable, or uncool, but seatbelts are absolutely necessary. Even more so, going without it can mean that the airbag turns into a deadly weapon. Studies have found that the incidence of neck or spine injury was 70 percent higher for drivers who chose to not wear their  seatbelt. If you aren’t buckled up during a collision, you’re probably heading headfirst into an airbag coming at you at 200 mpg.

Stop the crack

If a rock has chipped your windshield, you best fix it. And if you act fast, you can avoid the cost of a replacement – sometimes up to $500. As long as the chip is smaller than the size of a dime, a glass shop can fill the crack with an optically matched resin that should stop the spread of cracks. Most insurance companies waive the deductible and cover this cost-saving procedure.

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.