There are things we do to our cars on a regular basis that we think are harmless, but they can actually do more harm than we realize. Here are ten things you should never do to your car.
10. Don’t Forget to Wash Your Car
Not only does a dirty car look bad, it’s actually bad for your car’s exterior–especially in the winter when salt can be on the roads. And, when you do wash it, make sure you avoid using dish detergent. Yes, we know that Ajax detergent is tough on grease, but it’s even tougher on your car’s paint. According to an article published by Reader’s Digest, the oils and resins contained in car paint, clear coat and car wax help maintain the paint and filter out harmful UV rays. And, when you wash your car with dish detergent, it strips off the wax and washes away some of those oils and resins, making your car vulnerable to the elements. Use soap specifically designed for cars instead.
Here’s another tip: Don’t wash your car on a sunny day. That’s because putting water on your car in bright sunlight can ruin the car’s finish–especially brand new cars with base/clear-coat paints. Wash your car on cloudy, overcast days instead. Or, find a nice shady spot if it’s a sunny day. An even better time to wash it is just after dawn or late afternoon when the sun is making its way past the horizon.
9. Don’t Let the Gas Get Too Low
So, what’s considered too low? Less than a quarter tank of gas. If you drive your car with less fuel than that, it can cause premature fuel pump failure. That’s because the fuel acts like a coolant for your pump, and if there’s too little fuel in your car, not enough cooling will be provided for the pump and it’ll overheat. Replacing it can cost hundreds of dollars. But, that’s not all. Driving around with a low fuel level can cause the pump to suck in debris from the bottom of the tank. The particles can then wear out the pump impeller and cause you to have low fuel pressure.
8. Don’t Overinflate Your Tires
If someone tells you that you can get better gas mileage by overinflating your tires, don’t believe it. What will happen is that you’ll wear out your tires prematurely, increase your stopping distances, and wear out your suspension components. Not only that, but you’ll also have a rougher ride in your car. Instead of listening to your bonehead friends, check the placard inside the driver door’s frame for the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle. With that said, always make sure you check your tires’ air levels.
7. Don’t Rev the Engine
You should never rev your car’s engine in the winter to warm it up. It doesn’t work. Plus, it can damage your car because the oil hasn’t had a chance to work its way through the engine.
Revving your engine while sitting at a traffic light is a bad idea, too–well, revving it in neutral then shifting it into drive so you can do a “jack rabbit” start is. It can harm your engine–especially if it’s a brand new car–and wear down your transmission bands and piston rings, plus it could lead to additional problems down the road.
6. Don’t Drive When the Oil Light is On
An “on” oil light can mean a number of things. For example, it could be that your oil is really low or totally depleted. Or, it could also be that there’s a clog in the oil passage or that your oil pump is failing or has already failed. Instead of ignoring the light, pull over onto the shoulder and turn off your car. Then, get out and check the dipstick to see how much oil you’ve got. If it’s low on oil, you’ll need to refill right away–or at least before restarting your car. If not, you’ll end up destroying your engine. Even if there’s plenty of oil in it, you still shouldn’t drive it. Call a tow truck instead and then let a mechanic look at it to find out what’s causing the light to come on.
-Never use the wrong oil. It can result in a trouble code and cause the “check engine” light to come on.
-Never change the oil too frequently. Go 5,000 miles between oil changes under normal conditions. Go 3,000 miles between oil changes when you’re driving under severe conditions.
5. Don’t Use the Wrong Coolant
Doing so can ruin your engine and all the cooling system components. For example, you can cause premature failure to the radiator, heater pipes, heater core, and water pump. You can also end up damaging the plastic and rubber seals and gaskets. Check the owner’s manual for the recommended coolant for your car and stick to using that. The recommended coolant will be compatible with the specific metals used in your car’s engine and cooling system.
TIP: Don’t mix different coolants either. They won’t be compatible, and one could end up reducing the effectiveness of the other.
4. Don’t Mix Up Brake Fluid and Power Steering Fluid
According to an article published by Reader’s Digest, this happens more than you might think. It’s quite easy to do after all, since the bottles can look so similar. Unfortunately, this can be a costly mistake–up to $1,000 to be exact. Putting power steering fluid in the brake fluid reservoir can cause the brakes to fail. And, putting brake fluid into the power steering reservoir can cause the pump and steering gear to fail.
TIP: Don’t use a “universal” fluid in your power steering or transmission. They may not necessarily be compatible with your transmission and power steering system.
3. Don’t Tow Your Car with the Wheels Down
If you have an automatic transmission car, don’t tow it with the drive wheels down–unless of course you want to destroy it, then by all means knock yourself out. Towing it with the drive wheels down signals to the car that the transmission is being “run.” The problem with that is that it’s being run without proper lubrication. That’s because when the engine isn’t running, the torque converter doesn’t pump pressurized fluid through the transmission. “It’s like running the engine without an oil pump, and the results can be just as ugly,” CNN wrote on its website. The best way to tow your car is on a rollback.
2. Don’t Pressure Wash Your Engine
If you’re one of the folks who thinks pressure washing your engine is okay, please stop it now–especially if you have a modern car. If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of damaging the sensitive electronics, a.k.a. sensors, wiring harnesses, etc., fitted to your car’s computer-controlled engine. As a result, you could cause intermittent malfunctions. If a squeaky clean engine is what you desire, save yourself a lot of headache–and money–and degrease it with a garden hose instead.
1. Don’t Put Oversized Bass Reflectors and Subwoofers in Your Trunk
Not just because some people find the loud music annoying, but because these big audio systems can actually make your alternator and charging system work overtime, and, as a result, will rapidly drain your battery. And, not only will the battery have to be replaced frequently, but the alternator can fail prematurely. And, since the alternator keeps the battery charged, the car might not run right or may stop running altogether. But, if you insist on installing one of these audio systems, you might want to consider also installing a high-output alternator.
Have you been guilty of doing any of these things to your car? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!