Summer is upon us once again, meaning it’s time for scenic road trips and long drives up to the cottage. Unfortunately, many Canadians neglect the most important part of any summer holiday: our car. A well-maintained car can not only save you future headaches, but a great deal of money as well!
Let’s start with the basics. Before beginning any trip, you should first inspect your tires. They should be inflated to the pressure recommended by the manufacturer. This can be found on a sticker located on the inside of the driver’s door. Tires should be in good shape with no tears or wires poking through the sidewall, as this would indicate a broken belt and a tire in need of replacement. Proper tire pressure saves you money in the form of less gas burned – under-inflated tires can cost you as much as 10% of your gas. This can really add up on long trips!
Get your oil changes done regularly and on time. Most vehicles now go at least 6000 km between oil changes, but it’s never a good idea to go too far over that (check your owner’s manual for the particulars on your vehicle). Oil is the lifeblood of your engine and running on old dirty oil leads to premature engine wear that could result in thousands of dollars in repairs down the road.
While having your oil changed, you may want to consider having your belts and hoses checked. A cracked belt or hose can leave you stranded at the side of the road. It is better to replace it now when you can drive the car to the garage, rather than later when it has to be towed in!
Another item in preventative maintenance that people often ignore is the air filter. This paper filter takes the dirt out of the air your engine needs to operate. These filters are usually relatively inexpensive to replace and can be changed by someone in usually less than five minutes. A dirty air filter makes your engine work harder to breathe and burn more fuel, which can cost you money.
The final thing you might want to consider when driving is weight. Is there anything in the car that you don’t need to carry? Any excess weight leads to your car having to work harder and thereby burn more fuel.
Here’s wishing you a safe and happy summer driving season!