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Resolutions per minute: Taking care of your car in the new year

It’ll save you money, and that was on your list of new year’s resolutions, right?

Jens Nielsen | Driving With Jens

As the new year begins many of you will have come up with at least a few new year’s resolutions. Eating better, exercising more, drinking less are some of the most common. When I was a younger person, I always thought of new year’s resolutions as a to-do list for the first few weeks of January. As I get older it seems that I’m able to make habits of most of my new year’s resolutions. Being a car guy, over the years many resolutions included my vehicle and driving habits. I suggest you try doing the same.

Over the last year we have talked about a lot of automotive tips in this article. Following these tips will increase the health of your car and save you money in repairs. It will also increase your fuel economy thereby saving you even more money.

So, this year make a resolution to take better care of your vehicle by regularly checking the health of it.

This would mean regularly servicing your vehicle so it’s running optimally. Fuel filters, sensors, fuel injectors, etc., all need to be clean and working properly. Get any warning or check engine lights looked at immediately.

Making sure you have a clean air filter. Replacing or cleaning your air filter regularly will have a positive effect on fuel economy. Some estimates are as high as 10 per cent.

Regularly check all your fluids. Most important is your engine oil. Oil is critical to the health of your engine. Not only does it lubricate all the moving parts inside your engine, it also aids in cleaning, sealing, and prevents corrosion. Running with low oil will cause severe damage to your engine and generate large repair bills. Your warranty could also be voided if damage was caused by neglecting to keep proper oil level.

Your automatic transmission is a sealed system, that requires very little maintenance, but you should still check it while you’re checking your oil. If this fluid is low, it may mean that you have a leak in the system. If you see a red or reddish brown oily patch in your driveway where you park you likely have a leak.

Engine coolant is another important fluid as it keeps your engine from overheating. Antifreeze in this system also keeps the coolant from freezing. It’s important that both the level of the fluid and the level of the antifreeze are at the proper levels.

On most vehicles, you can check the level of coolant by looking through the overflow tank which is usually marked showing a cold and hot level. This should be done when the engine is warm and not cold but never when the engine is hot. You can get seriously burned. Most people should never need to open the radiator cap.

Regularly check the level of your windshield washer fluid. Most of us know the fluid level only when it’s out. You can check the level of your windshield washer fluid by just looking through the transparent reservoir.

This is the one fluid that you will regularly need to check and refill. It’s wise to keep a backup supply in the garage or in the trunk. Windshield wiper fluid helps the windshield wipers do their job. It’s important that you never use straight water, always use windshield washer antifreeze. There are some available with de-icer built in. It works great for keeping your wipers clear.

Keeping your tires properly inflated is extremely important yet most don’t check them regularly. Connect checking your tire pressure to something you already must remember, like garbage day. Every two weeks on garbage day check your tire pressure.

It will take you less than a minute to do. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your glove box so it’s handy. There are some very nice tire pressure gauges available that are super easy to use and easy to read. Some even have a digital screen that displays the reading. Low tire pressure increases the rolling resistance of your vehicle and will negatively affect fuel economy. Properly inflated tires can increase fuel economy by up to three per cent.

Deciding to take better care of your vehicle as a new year’s resolution will at least get you thinking more about it. If you do follow through and make it a habit, your vehicle will last longer with fewer repairs. It will save you money and the inconvenience of breakdowns.

Seems like a no-brainer. Happy new year!

Catch Driving With Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at drivingwithjens@gmail.com, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens.

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