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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How to Prolong the Life of your Automobile Part 1

Re-post courtesy of Matthiasj from Kentucky Preppers Network

To me prepping has become a hobby. I look at life and the world totally different since I started prepping. Prepping is a mindset or even a way of life; it's not just putting some canned goods and batteries into storage (not that doing this would be a bad thing). Taking care of your vehicle falls right into place with the prepper mindset. You must prepare for potential vehicular problems, and not only keep a good Car Emergency Kit, you must practice preventative maintenance on your vehicle to prolong the life of it.

It's important to follow your vehicle's specific maintenance schedule. The following information is generic and would apply to any vehicle. Performing your own maintenance can be rewarding and a lot cheaper than paying for it. If you do see a problem, consult with a mechanic about getting the problem fixed before it becomes a big issue. Never let something go. Always keep your vehicle in top running condition.

Here is a list of items you should check each month. Set aside a couple hours once a month to go over each item to make sure the basics are working properly.
1. Check the Engine & Ground for Fluid Leaks
2. Test Heater & Air Conditioning
3. Check Wiper Blades (Make sure the blades are in good shape, and function properly)
4. Check Headlights (High Beam & Low Beam)
5. Check Fog or Driving Lights
6. Check Turn Signals (Front & Back)
7. Check Hazard Lights (Front & Back)
8. Test Door Locks on All Doors
9. Inspect Windshield for Chips or Cracks
10. Test each Window (If Power Windows Check Each Switch)
11. Test Door Locks (If Power Locks Check Each Switch)
12. Check Radio & Make Sure Each Speaker Plays
13. Test Horn
14. Verify that you have your proper information in the glove box and the information is up to date (Proof of Insurance & Registration)

Every 3,000 miles or 90 days you want to perform these tasks:
1. Change Engine Oil & Filter
2. Check All Engine Fluids (Coolant, Power Steering Fluid, Brake Fluid, Windshield Washer Fluid, Transmission Fluid)
3. Check Tire Pressure & Tire Tread
4. Check All Belts for Cracks or Fraying
5. Check All Hoses for Leaks or Bulges
6. Lubricate Grease Fittings (Where Applicable)

Even if you have no idea about how to work on a car these tasks are simple and can be performed in your driveway. By doing this you WILL prolong the life of your vehicle and help to ensure that these problems don't pop up when you're on the road. If any one of these things that you check are not functioning properly it is time to fix it yourself, or take it to someone you trust to fix it. I will continue this series with more information about how to prolong the life of your automobile in the future.

*Disclaimer: Always consult your service manual for exact maintenance procedures. If you are uncomfortable with performing the maintenance yourself, contact a trusted mechanic to do the work.

1 comment:

DaveP said...

I'd add a few other tips - as an amateur car restorer I see how cars degrade up close.

When checking the oil, look for any metallic particles - they'll make the oil shiny, like metal-flake paint. If you see that, plan to get a new car soon.

Make sure when you check the tranny fluid, your car is warmed up, and parked on a level surface.

If your car starts running crappy, one cause could be an intake manifold or some other vacuum leak. Symptoms include racing (running faster then slower) or hearing any hissing sound. Get a can or two of carb cleaner, and spray down all the engine mating surfaces (where the top part bolts on to the big middle part that has the pistons). Spray along the vacuum lines, etc. If the car's idle speed changes at all (faster or slower) you know you have a leak.

If you car starts and runs OK, but then won't restart when the motor is hot (such as when you come out of the grocery store), especially in the winter, you may have a bad Ignition Control Module.

Also, get a manual - start with the consumer Chilton's, but if you're serious get the Technical Service Manual for your car (available on Ebay usually). Another good place to check parts prices is rockauto.com. They have a warehouse in Turtle Creek so delivery is really fast for us PA Preppers.

Extra parts to carry:
spare fuses
spare belts, even though they are expensive (most modern cars run from 1 serpentine belt - DO NOT run your car if it breaks - symptoms include hard steering and a spiking radiator temperature due to water pump shutdown)

Hope this helps!

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