Most of us don't view our vehicles as family, but it's still important to treat them as such if we want them to last. Caring for your car is a lot like caring for your children. Don't feed them junk food, keep them clean so the neighbors don't complain, and patch up their bumps and bruises when they get a little too rowdy. Once you learn how to parent your car or truck, you'll both be on your way to happier and healthier lives.
If Only Children Included Operating Manuals...
At least our vehicles come with books that explain everything we need to know. Inside your owner's manual, you will find everything from safety features and fluids specifications, to what each little button does and how to set the clock (seriously, why does setting a clock have to be so difficult?!). Your recommended maintenance schedules can also be found in the owner's manual, usually with some blank lined pages to use as a maintenance log. So while there is no manual that explains your child's fascination with putting small rocks up their nose, you'll be able to top off your vehicle's fluids with relative ease and expertise. Nifty!
Put A Bandage On It (Or Maybe Just Some Paint)
Just like cleaning up a scraped knee or icing a bump on the head, the reasons for immediately taking care of damage to your vehicle is functionally the same: it prevents future complications. The road is full of hazards like pebbles from dump trucks, debris from accidents that don't ever get fully cleaned up, and your great-aunt who should have stopped driving years ago. Your vehicle is going to get scratched or dented eventually, and dealing with these blemishes when they are small and fresh can prevent rust and corrosion from making a mess you might not be able to fix at home. You should inspect your vehicle regularly for scratches and chips.
DIY products like Dupli-Color's Scratch Fix All-In-One come with everything you need to quickly and easily repair minor paint damage. For less than $15, you'll get pen and taper tip brushes for scratches and larger chips respectively plus a clear coat and applicator to seal and protect the repair.
Pop The Hood And Say “Ahh”
Yearly checkups with your doctor is the simplest preventative medicine. The same is true for your vehicle, but what does that look like for a body of steel and a heart of pistons? A certified car care professional, like our ASE Certified technicians, will inspect your battery, brake and cooling systems, engine oil and filter, wheels, tires, and more. A proper inspection will highlight what's working as designed and what may need maintenance or repair, and when that should be done. Just like fixing a scratch in the paint can prevent rust issues in the future, preventative maintenance and inexpensive repairs can prevent much more costly repairs down the road.
Just like our own bodies, when one part of your engine begins to have problems, it can start a chain reaction of issues in connected systems. Keep your wallet fat and your car healthy with regular inspections and inexpensive preventative maintenance.
My Baby Only Eats The Best!
Your vehicle is like a baby. A large metal baby with a heart powered by explosions and a brain of integrated circuits, but a baby nonetheless. It needs to be fed, bathed, and exercised, and it will complain if it doesn't get those things.
Every model of engine has a unique diet that keeps it healthy. Using the right grade of fuel and the correct type and weight of oil not only keeps your engine running at optimum performance and efficiency, it also keeps it running as cleanly as possible. You wouldn't feed your child nothing but junk food and expect it to grow into an Olympian athlete. Your vehicle's owner's manual will list everything you need to know about what to feed your engine.
A boy may be defined as a noise with dirt on it, which isn't too dissimilar to your car. You'd be hard pressed to find an environment to store and drive your car that doesn't include dirt, road grime, and weather elements that all contribute to a dirtier and dirtier car. Give your vehicle a bath regularly (don't forget the undercarriage, it can get pretty gross down there) to mitigate premature wear and tear. Make sure you include some kind of sun protection for your paint job, like wax (or ceramic coat, if you're a big spender).
“Wait, did you say my car needs exercise?” Yep! Believe it or not, your car will work best when it's used regularly, just like your own muscles. Letting your car sit for long periods of time can cause all sorts of problems inside and outside of your engine. The components of your vehicle are designed to wear evenly. A vehicle that doesn't move will put stress on one part of your tires, and normally lubricated internal components can slowly dry out if the oil sits long enough without circulating. Regular driving is good for not only your car, but you too!
Thinking about your car as a family member may seem foreign at first, but being a car parent makes sense once you have the right perspective and context. If you look at vehicle care through a parental lens, you will enjoy your four-wheeled child for many years to come.