Car Problems

10 Preventable Car Problems

If you own a car, you know how important it is to keep up with regular maintenance. While you should take your car in for scheduled maintenance, day-to-day “check-ups” don’t always have be done by professionals. If you pay attention to some signals that your car is sending you, you will be able to prevent a bigger breakdown and even an accident. Here are ten most common problems and how you can prevent or fix them in no time.

Preventable Car Problems

  1. Flat tire

This is perhaps one of the most common problems a driver can experience. If you hear a loud thumping noise or your car is tilting while you are driving, then you need to pull over and change your flat tire. Quite often the pressure is the cause of the problem, therefore adjust the tire pressure in accordance with the car manual. Since a flat tire can be caused by external factors that you cannot prevent, such as holes on the road, it is advisable to check that your spare tire, the jack and other tools are in place and in good condition.

  1. Bad belts

If you start hearing a creaking sound coming from your belts every minute or two, this is a sign that something is going on and your belts are already worn-off. It is better to go and have them replaced before they tear while you’re on the road.

  1. Dead battery

You know that your battery is dead because your car doesn’t start. Buying a tester and/or charger is the way to solve this problem. The battery dies if it is not recharged regularly and surely, at some point you need to replace it with a new one. Make sure to check for corrosion and clear it immediately as this decreases the lifespan of your battery.

  1. Damaged/bad spark plugs

You know that you have faulty spark plugs if there is a hard start, problems with starting or slower acceleration. To avoid problems, make sure that you replace them regularly according to the manufacturer instructions.

  1. Problems with the alternator

If you have continuous battery problems, you are not able to start the car or the gadgets inside your car don’t even lighten up, then it means your alternator is dead. The best way to solve these problems is to go and have your car checked by a mechanic and have the alternator replaced.

  1. Insufficient oil in the car engine

Do not let your engine run out of oil. Always change it on time – every 3,000 miles or once in three months, depending on the type of oil you use and the make of your car. Checking oil levels regularly and changing it on time will prevent many issues.

  1. Overheating engine

In scorching temperatures, your engine is threatened from overheating, which may entail much greater problems. To prevent them, keep an eye on the car’s temperature gauge. This way, you will know the status of your cooling system. When you see that it reaches critical limits, pull over and let the engine cool down for about 30 minutes before you continue.

  1. Head or tail lights not working

Check your car lights before hitting the road. Keep a spare bulb handy so that you can change it in case any of the head or tail lights are off.

  1. Missing/broken side-view mirror

If all of the sudden your blind spot grew bigger, it means that something has happened to your side-view mirror. Since replacing this part is fairly easy, do not embarrass yourself by driving with broken, missing, hanging or make-up replacement mirror.

  1. Damaged or worn brakes

If you hear loud squeaking sound every time you step on the breaks or it takes you forever to stop, then it is high time to have your brake pads and rotors checked. If there is any corrosion, distortion or excessive wear on the brakes the results may be fatal. To prevent accidents, visit a mechanic and replace the necessary brake system parts.

Key tools to help you diagnose and repair minor car problems on the go:

  • A set of service manuals to help you troubleshoot
  • A garage toolkit that includes the basic instruments such as a car jack, set of screw drivers and wrenches, and support stands
  • A multimeter to test the electrical current
  • An OBD code reader that you can plug in and check what the problem with your car is. It can be easily connected to your smartphone for more convenient operation
  • A portable battery charger and jumper cables to help you revive a dead battery.
fuel economy of your vehicle

How to improve the Fuel Economy of your Vehicle

Fuel is a significant expense for every household and without any prospects of its price going down soon, we are often asking ourselves how we can improve the fuel economy of our vehicle.

The good news is, you can improve your vehicle’s fuel economy by keeping these 3 things in mind: your vehicle, the fuel you use, and your driving habits. Paying attention even to one of those will help you reduce your fuel consumption considerably. If, however, you take into account all three, you will not only save money on fuel but have a better maintained car and a more responsible driving attitude.

Here’s how:

Maintain your car properly

One of the most important factors for fuel efficiency is proper maintenance of the car. If you want to increase the mileage

fuel economy of your vehicle

  • Keep your tires properly inflated. This may surprise you, but your car consumes more fuel if you if your tires are over- or underinflated. Keep them properly inflated and you can save about 3% on your fuel consumption. Keep in mind that your tires lose about 1 PSI per month, so it is good to check them at least once a month and even better on a weekly basis. In winter, due to the cold weather the pressure also decreases.
  • Opt for narrower tires when possible. Narrower tires have less frontal area and less aerodynamic drag as well. This, however, means that their traction is also reduced. Therefore, you should choose the narrowest possible tires approved by your manufacturer that will allow you to drive safely.
  • Buy low-rolling-resistance compound tires. This type of tires can reduce your fuel consumption by a few percent.
  • Tune up your car engine. A properly tuned engine will help you increase your fuel efficiency by maximizing the power. Make sure that your spark plugs are in good condition and that your air filter is clean, change oil on time and your car will return the favor by better behavior on the road and less fuel consumption.
  • Keep your air filter clean. You need to check the condition of your air filter regularly. Driving on dusty roads will clog it and thus reduce fuel economy since your engine will stall when idling.

Choose your fuel

When we talk about fuel consumption, the main player to consider is the fuel itself. Here is what you need to know

  • Buy quality fuel. Do you remember the saying “I’m not rich enough to buy cheap things”? It applies here 100%. Even though discounted fuel may save you a few cents per gallon, you will end up paying more on the long run as it has more ethanol and burns faster.
  • Be smart with your AC use. If you are driving in the heavy city traffic where you need to stop and go every few minutes, it is better to keep your AC off as the fuel consumption rises. If you are on the highway, however, it is much better to keep your windows rolled up and your AC on as this improves the car performance and ultimately saves fuel.
  • Don’t let your tank dry up. If your run out of fuel this puts stress on the fuel pump. Therefore, it is advisable to maintain your tank more than one quarter full. The best is to fill it up with gas halfway, thus you will have sufficient fuel without adding too much load to your car.

Drive wisely

The way you drive your car affects the level of fuel consumption more than you realize. Here are a few tips how you can reduce it by adopting some good habits:

  • Use cruise control. Since using cruise control means that you maintain a constant speed, you usually reduce your fuel consumption.
  • Don’t speed up. If you slow down a bit you will relieve the engine since it has to work harder to push through the air when you accelerate the speed. This reduces your fuel efficiency by up to 33%.
  • Accelerate smoothly. You should know that engines perform better and save fuel with moderately high air flow (throttle) and at revolutions per minute (RPM)s up to their power peak. This means that if you drive a manual transmission car you need to practice short shifting and shift to higher gears as soon as the necessary speed is reached.
  • Don’t brake suddenly whenever possible. Braking wastes the energy from the fuel that you have consumed. Furthermore, accelerating after a brake consumes much more fuel than driving at a constant speed. Therefore, you should drive carefully and strategically and avoid excessive braking whenever possible. Approach traffic lights with the necessary care, for example.
  • Avoid idling. Idling wastes a lot of fuel so you need to avoid it whenever that is possible. If you need to warm up your vehicle, it is better to drive it slowly until it reaches the necessary temperature for smooth operation. In very cold weather, however, idling is necessary, so let the engine idle a minute or two.
  • Discover the best speed for your car. Each car has a specific speed at which it gets better mileage. Usually, it is around 50 mph but can differ a bit for the different makes. Find the best speed for your vehicle and choose the roads at which you can maintain it.

All these tips, especially if combined, will help you reduce your fuel consumption and add some extra cash to your budget. As a bonus, we will also advise you to keep the load in your car to minimum – do not use your trunk as a storage for heavy items that you don’t need on the road, remove any seats that you do not need, etc. Thus, you will need less fuel, especially driving through the heavy city traffic.

auto maintenance checklist

Printable Auto Maintenance Checklist

Do you spend a lot of time in your car? Then you know how important it is to keep it well-maintained. If you want to save money and prevent major mishaps, you should know what to check and how often to do it.

Here are a few tips from the pros, as well as a printable auto maintenance checklist to keep you organized.

auto maintenance checklist

Why regular maintenance is important

Most of us truly cannot imagine our everyday routine without a car. Going to work, picking kids up from school or other activities, shopping or traveling all require having a reliable vehicle that won’t leave you stuck in the middle of the road. Therefore, it is important to get into the habit of regularly checking and maintaining your car in order to:

  • Prevent expensive repairs – you will save a lot of money if you keep an eye on the general condition of the car and especially by checking fluids. Make sure all levels are in accordance with your manufacturer’s recommendations and you will be able to avoid major damage;
  • Avoid unexpected problems with the car while traveling – this is important to keep in mind since it will not only prevent unexpected breakdowns but may also save you from harming yourself or others;
  • Understand how your car functions – it is good for everyone in the family to be aware of how the car functions and know how to look for problems and when it’s time to visit a shop.

One of the cases when regular maintenance can be of great help, though a bit indirect, is if you need your car as a collateral for a car title loan. Being able to show and prove that your car is in excellent condition may result in receiving more cash compared to presenting a car that is in rather bad condition.

auto maintenance checklist

How often to check each element?

Every month you have to check the overall condition of the car and the level of the fluids. Once it becomes a routine, you will find out that it only takes a few minutes. So, make sure to check the brake fluid level, the coolant level, the engine oil level, and the windshield washer fluid.

Make sure that all the lights of your vehicle function.

To ensure better performance and optimal gas consumption you need properly inflated tires, so check the tire pressure and overall condition.

Lift your wiper blades to inspect them for any damage or clear the debris that is accumulated under. It takes only a few seconds but will save you a lot of trouble when it starts raining.

  • Every three months

Once in three months or in every 3 to 5,000 miles, whichever comes first, make sure to do the following inspections and replacements.

Change the engine oil and the engine oil filter. You can do it by yourself or visit a shop. As long as you do it regularly, it won’t cost much.

The fluids that you need to check every three months are for the automatic transmission and the power steering fluid.

It is advisable to inspect the fan belt, the battery and all cables and hoses in your vehicle.

If you hear squeaking in your suspension then it is a good idea to crawl under your car and lubricate the chassis. This is something that can be done alongside changing the engine oil.

  • Annually

There are some things that you need to inspect or replace only once per year or every 12-15,000 miles, whichever comes first.

You need to change the cabin air filter and the engine air filter.

Make sure to inspect steering and suspension as well as brakes and wheel bearings.

It is also a good idea to flush the coolant in order to make sure that the corrosion protection does not wear down. You can do that once in couple of years too.

Take a couple of minutes to lubricate your door and hood hinges every year as well and to check them for any cracks.

Printable car maintenance checklist

If you believe that all this information is useful, you can print out the checklist below and make sure that you follow all the steps in it. Thus, you will have a car in excellent condition that will serve you much longer.