Your Senses… To Save Money on Car Problems
have to be a mechanic or even much of a DIYer
to save money on car-related expenses. For instance:
You can avoid
costly brake problems by listening to your brakes. If you hear anything,
its time to do something. Brakes should be silent.
When theyre not, its a good bet theres a problem.
It might just be a squeak caused by glazed (or misaligned) pads,
or slightly rusty rotors which can happen when a car is left
to sit for a awhile. But it might also be that your pads are on
the verge of wearing out and about to gouge your expensive
rotors into expensive junk. Dont go by mileage since your
last brake job. Brake pads can and do sometimes wear
out sooner than you expect them to.
if you hear something, get it checked ASAP.
and keep track of the dials in front you, in the instrument
cluster. Gauges vs. idiot lights are great. If
youre paying attention. Idiot lights which most cars
used to have only illuminated when it was already too late
to do much but pull over and call for a tow. For example, the little
light that said oil typically came on only when you
had next to no oil pressure. It might as well have said you
lose. Same with the other idiot lights: Temp meant
the engine was already overheating. Batt meant the alternator
which most late-model cars have give you much more information.
If youre paying attention to them. You will be able to
notice, for example, abnormal or rising engine temperature before
the engine actually overheats. This might give you time to get off
a busy highway or get to a service station as opposed
to being stranded by the side of a busy highway and far from help.
A low or erratic oil pressure reading noticed in time
might just save you a $5,000 engine replacement. A number of late-model
cars (well, trucks mostly) are even blessed with a transmission
temperature gauge. If you pay attention to it and see the fluid
temperature rising and shut the vehicle down before the needle
gets into the red zone, you will probably have saved yourself a
$3,000 transmission job.
Get into the habit of regularly scanning your gauges and
becoming familiar with normal readings so that
youll immediately notice the abnormal ones before its
too late to do much about it.
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[send him mail] is an automotive
columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2012 Eric Peters
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