More than half of the cars in Canada are financed for seven years or more. If you're one of the consumers in it for the long haul, you'll need to keep your car in tiptop shape. Because, even if your car dies halfway through your loan, you'll still be stuck making payments on it. Follow the car maintenance tips below to ensure your vehicle outlives your debt:
Canadian Car Maintenance Tips Everyone Needs to Follow
1. Budget for Car Maintenance and Repairs
Car repairs cost the average Canadian between $500 and $700 every year. While most people have a line item in their budget for gas and oil changes, few people plan for things like car repairs and tire replacements. This can leave them in a world of hurt when their car breaks down. To avoid this, set some money aside every month to cover any mechanical issues.
2. Read Your Owner's Manual
A study found that only 6.8 percent of us open our cars owner's manual. Though we understand that your manual isn't a page-turner, you should at least skim your manual's maintenance schedule, fluid requirements, and FAQ section. If you don't, you might end up filling your car with the wrong coolant or wasting money on unnecessary maintenance. In most cases, this voids the vehicle's warranty.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
The internet has changed almost every facet of our life. But, a lot of us still handle vehicle maintenance like it's the 1970s. The only record most of us have of repairs is a mountain of receipts in our glove compartment, and our only reminder of missed maintenance is the flicker of the Check Engine light. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools out there to help modernize the process:
- Evernote: This note-taking platform has a lot of uses. When it comes to keeping your car in tiptop shape, however, it's best used as a receipt repository. Just scan your paperwork into the cloud and throw out the copies in your glovebox.
- aCar: Downloaded over a million times, aCar boosts a 4.4-star rating in the app store. Featuring a user-friendly interface, this robust app makes it easy to check your fuel economy, upcoming maintenance appointments, and expenses. Just enter some basic vehicle data, a few numbers from your maintenance schedule, and let the app do the rest.
- Fuelly: The main thing setting this app apart from aCar is that it's iOS compatible. With a graphical interface, Fuelly makes it easy to monitor your fuel economy and required maintenance at a glance. Allowing you to set up custom alerts, this app ensures you'll never forget to rotate your tires.
4. Be a Good Driver
After getting a new car, many of us drive like our grandmas. We start gunning it at yellow lights and avoid potholes like the plague. But as that new car smell fades, most drivers return to their bad habits. While this car maintenance tip is less about maintaining your car, and more about being a good driver, it can definitely lower your repair bills. So, stop gunning it through yellow lights, whipping it around corners, and ignoring posted speed limit signs. Your car will thank you.
5. Check Your Air Filters
An efficient engine needs that perfect balance of fuel and air. By keeping dust and other debris out of your engine and cabin, air filters help you keep you find this sweet spot. Failure to change the air filter as directed by your maintenance schedule can lead to a lot of issues, including reduced horsepower, strange noises, and misfires. Luckily, this is one piece of car maintenance you can do yourself. Here's how:
- Buy a New Air Filter: Most auto parts stores can help you pick out the right one. Just make sure you know your car's year, make, and model.
- Find your Air Filter: The main one is usually in a big black box under your car hood. Many newer cars also have one in the cabin to keep out allergens and road dust. If you have difficulties finding either, consult your owner's manual.
- Open the Casing: Pop open the metal or plastic clips holding the casing shut. Note how the air filter sits.
- Replace the Old Filter: Toss the old one in the bin and slip the new one into its casing. Doublecheck that it's facing the right way before closing up shop.
6. Take Care of Your Tires
According to the Canada Safety Council , "Tires are without a doubt the most critical safety component on a vehicle. Where the rubber meets the road affects traction, handling, steering, stability, and braking." This means it's high time that us Canadians stopped taking them for granted and followed this car maintenance tip. In addition to giving them monthly once-overs, we need to make sure that we're:
- Rotating them On Time: Get your tires balanced, aligned, and rotated as indicated as your owner's manual. This is critical to safe handling and fuel economy.
- Monitoring Tire Pressure: A lack of air in your tires can impact comfort and fuel economy. Checking tire pressure weekly is a fantastic way to keep your suspension in tip-top shape. If you're unable to check your tires the old-fashioned way, consider investing in an aftermarket tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).
- Checking Our Tread Depth: Canadians need tires that can function in all kinds of weather. That's why we don't drive on racing slicks. If you can see the wear bar on your wheel, it's time to replace it. If your tire isn't new enough to have wear marks, it's time for a replacement.
7. Check Your Belts
Drive belts transfer power from your crankshaft to your air pump, ac compressor, power steering pump, and alternator. While older cars tended to use multiple belts for this, modern cars rely on a single belt (the serpentine belt) to get the job done. As they're made of rubber, and susceptible to wear and tear, these belts wear down over time. Overuse can lead to them snapping and bricking your engine.
That's why you need to examine your timing and serpentine for signs of wear at least once a month. Though the rule of thumb is to replace your serpentine belt every 40,000 and your timing belt every 60,000 miles, you should always adhere to the guidelines laid out in your owner's manual. Every car is different and only your manufacturer has the lab data to back up their maintenance recommendations.
8. Monitor Your Fluid Levels and Get Your Oil Changed
Oil isn't the only fluid in your car. You also need to monitor your coolant and your power steering, transmission, brake, and washer fluid. Failing to properly maintain these items can lead to braking issues and overheating. If you notice something's running out quicker than usual, it might be time to get your car a checkup.
9. Be Kind to Your Battery
The average battery lasts between two and five years, depending on the stress put on it. Unless you like wasting money, you'll want to do everything you can to be at the top end of that range. To keep your battery running at peak efficiency, you need to:
- Clean the posts once a month
- Stop using electronics while idling
- Test it bimonthly
- Keep your battery tightly fastened