Car Care Tips
A little TLC goes a long way.
You expect a lot out of your vehicle, and in return it needs a few things out of you. By regularly performing these simple cleaning and maintenance procedures, your vehicle will last longer and perform better. A “happy” vehicle will save you time, money and hassle in the long run. After all, you need your vehicle to keep your life moving!
Make Your Finish Last Longer
Avoid washing your car in the sun.
Rinse off as much dirt as possible before washing.
Clean tires first.
Clean wheels to eliminate brake dust and road salt corrosion.
Never use household soaps or detergents.
Don't place grocery bags, luggage or other objects on the car top or trunk.
After driving in salty conditions, wash your car to prevent corrosion, fading and rust.
Get a complete detail once a year.
Do not "dry wipe" your car as it may cause scratching.
Avoid extreme heat and cold by keeping your car parked in the shade or a garage.
Avoid gravel roads, which can cause chipping in the first 30 days.
Do not park under trees, which drip sap.
Immediately rinse gasoline, oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid and windshield solvent spills off your finish--but do not wipe.
Car Care for All Seasons
Use fresh air, instead of recirculated air, to keep your windows from fogging.
Be sure to check your tire pressure regularly as tires deflate one pound of pressure for every 10 degrees the temperature drops.
Run your air conditioner once a month to keep it in proper running order.
Check battery monthly as cold weather can cause it to lose its charge more quickly.
Check antifreeze regularly.
Have ignition system checked yearly by a trained technician--including batteries and spark plug wires--to avoid hard starting, misfire during acceleration and reduced gas mileage.
Have your cooling system checked once a year.
When needed, flush, drain and replace antifreeze.
Flush dirt, bugs and leaves from the front of your radiator with a brush and garden hose to prevent cooling system problems.
Check battery weekly in hot weather and daily on long trips.
Car Maintenance Checklist
Follow manufacturer's recommendations for oil and filter changes--typically every 3,000 to 4,000 miles.
Replace engine oil, transmission fluid and fuel filters on a periodic basis.
Schedule periodic engine tune-ups to keep car running smoothly.
Take car to a technician at the first sign of trouble to avoid causing more costly damage.
Vacuum out air cleaner housing and wipe with a damp rag before installing new air filter to keep dirt out of engine and maximize filter life.
Check battery fluid regularly--especially if your battery is more than two years old.
Periodically check tension on drive belts to ensure they do not give more than half an inch.
Lubricate door hinges, door latches and hood hinges periodically.
Have tires rotated and balanced at least every 10,000 miles.
Check tire inflation once a month to maximize fuel efficiency and avoid accidents from under-inflated tires.
Follow manufacturer's recommendations for coolant flush schedules on late model Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles with V-6 and V-8 engines. Old coolant can cause expensive, internal corrosion around the water pump, timing cover and thermostat housing bolts.
Sticking or noisy power steering columns on older cars can sometimes be fixed by adding 1/2 can of STP or similar additive. DO NOT TRY THIS ON LATE MODELS OR EXPENSIVE VEHICLES.
Change your windshield wipers at least once a year.
Keeping Your Car Clean Outside
Remove leaves from your car as soon as possible to prevent the release of acid that can permanently stain your finish.
Avoid parking under trees that release sap. Or, to remove sap, use finger nail polish remover on a cotton ball. Use a paste of water and baking soda to wash off the remover, then apply wax.
Avoid brush-style car washes as they cause dirt to scratch the car's finish.
Use the lowest setting in do-it-yourself car washes to avoid "blasting" grit into the car's finish.
Avoid washing your car in the sun.
Avoid household detergents and soaps as they strip your car's protective surface causing the finish to dry out and age prematurely.
Wash in straight lines with overlapping strokes to reduce the standing water you need to dry off.
Clean tires first, then the wheels to prevent irreversible corrosion caused by brake dust and road salt.
Be sure to wash the inside bottom edge of doors, lift gate, hood and trunk to eliminate the trapped dirt and moisture that can cause premature rusting.
Never wax your car in direct sunlight to prevent the surface temperature of your car from causing the chemicals in the wax to damage your finish.
Look for car wax which contains imported vegetable wax, which is safe for your car's finish.
Avoid waxes that promise to remove dirt, oxidized paint or scratches as they are not pure wax and can actually remove paint from your vehicle.
Do not "polish" light scratches as new car finishes have a clear coat finish that can be damaged.
Mask off all textured moldings and bumper parts before rubbing on wax to avoid discoloring or other damage.
Rinse off dirt prior to washing to prevent scratching from rubbing it into the surface.
Rinse dirt from moving parts, such as suspension components.
Keeping Your Car Clean Inside
Apply protectant with a rag and avoid spraying directly on the dash.
Use a vinyl protectant regularly to prevent fading and cracking.
Once vinyl protectant is applied, it will need to be re-applied regularly to prevent drying and cracking.
Vinyl dashes can also be cleaned using Lemon Pledge, which leaves a nice smell, too.
Vacuum regularly to remove dirt, salt, leaves and other items that can damage carpets and mats.
Leather interiors should be cleaned with leather products--that are designed to penetrate the pores.
For leather, avoid high-alkaline content which can bleach the color.
Use only upholstery cleaners designed for cars, not household cleaners.