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The Absolute Worst Things You Can Do to Your Car

a confused and frustrated woman whose car has broken down
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Your vehicle is one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy. Unfortunately, too many drivers fail to take care of their investment, either through laziness or ignorance. Don’t be like them. Here are 5 things to avoid if you want to keep your car running smoothly for a long time to come.

Not Getting the Oil Changed

How often should you get your oil changed? Go by the recommendation in your car’s manual, not the sticker on your windshield. But do get the oil changed regularly. Letting it go too long can lead to build-up and eventually major engine problems.

Forgetting About All the Other Fluids

Okay, you remembered to get your oil changed! That’s great… but how’s your anti-freeze doing? What about engine coolant? Brake fluid? There are a lot of liquids and goos involved in keeping your car running. It’s bad to run out of them. You can check and top up most of these yourself, or you can ask the service person to check them at your next oil change.

Neglecting Your Tires

Tires wear out because of the friction between the road and the rubber. The less tread they have–in other words, the closer to being bald–the more dangerous it is to drive. Tires that have a safe amount of tread and are properly inflated get better gas mileage, give you a greater braking distance, and are less likely to blow out on the road.

Pretending a Warning Light Doesn’t Exist

If a light pops up on your instrument panel, it’s your car’s way of asking for help. It might be routine maintenance–time for that oil change–or it might be a minor issue. Most new cars have an automatic tire pressure light that will let you know something might be amiss, for example. Deal with it and move on with your day.

But a check engine light should never be ignored. Get your vehicle to a mechanic, stat!

Driving Over Avoidable Hazards

Okay, yes: It’s fun to drive through a puddle and send up a big spray of water. But it’s not a great idea for your car. You don’t know how deep that puddle is, or whether there’s debris at the bottom. Hitting potholes and speed bumps can also do a number on your vehicle. If you see a hazard in the road, drive around it if possible. If not, go slow.

It’s like the fable of the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise got to his destination safely, if more slowly, while the hare was stranded on the side of the road because he broke an axle and had to wait for a tow.

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