It is often said that changing the oil is the single most important thing you can do to take care of your car. Nevertheless, it is something that many automobile owners delay—and the results of procrastination can be dire.
The purpose of oil is to cut down on friction within your engine. When you have high quality, clean oil that is doing its job properly, it means the components of your engine are working well without rubbing together and causing corrosion. Over time, though, oil becomes contaminated and loses its viscosity. In a word, it gets dirty. And when that happens, it loses its ability to prevent friction—which means the components of your engine will literally be wearing each other down, causing erosion and potentially significant mechanical failings.
Common Signs of Oil Leaks
One way to know that you’ve gone far too long without an oil change is that oil is leaking from your engine. One of the most typical signs of oil leak is seeing a puddle of greasy-looking brown liquid under your car, after it has been parked for a while. (By contrast, if the liquid is pink, it’s transmission fluid; if it’s green or orange, it’s coolant.)
However, many vehicles today have shielding underneath, which will most likely catch the oil before it hits the ground. That can hide a potentially major oil leak. In this case, a low oil level indicator will be your sign of leakage.
An engine covered in oil is also a pretty good sign of leakage. Open your hood every once in a while, and check your vehicle’s fluids. You will be able to notice if the oil is leaking or seeping from several places. Last, but not least, when oil is leaking, it can get in contact with hot engine surfaces, which means it will burn, and you’ll be able to smell it.
But What Causes Oil To Leak, Exactly?
Usually, it is due to degraded engine gaskets or oil seals. Sometimes these components will erode over time, but more likely than not, if you have this kind of leak, it’s because you have old, dirty oil—perhaps because you have not had your oil changed recently enough.
Damaged Oil Gaskets or Pans
Your vehicle’s oil pans and gaskets can easily be damaged by road debris since they are located at the bottom of the engine. Rough roads can lead to a hole which will cause an oil pan leak. The pan’s gasket usually suffers a lot of wear and tear, or it can also get damaged, which leads to an oil gasket leak.
It may happen that one of the gaskets that keep oil inside is Improperly installed. Most commonly, this happens when the oil pan gasket or valve cover gasket are over-tightened. It can also happen when tightness is not evenly distributed. Another reason can be the improper attachment of the oil filter, as the engine oil flows continuously through it, and if it’s loose, you can experience a leak there.
Bad Rings or Valve Seals
Leaking rings or valve seals can also be contributing to your car losing oil. However, if there are no holes in your gaskets, the oil will not make it outside the engine, so you won’t notice it, as it will get burned up in the combustion process.
Regardless of the specific cause, it is urgent to stop an oil leak, so take your vehicle to the Meineke shop immediately. Following the oil leak, you may encounter the smell of burnt oil, followed by blue smoke and ultimately some major damage to your engine. Do not delay in addressing this issue.
Preventing Oil Leaks
How Often to Change Oil
All of this begs the question: How frequently should you change the oil in your car? There is no way to know, through visual inspection, whether your oil needs changing, as pure black oil will take on a brown, “dirty” look almost immediately after it is put into your car.
The simple solution, then, is to change your oil as often as the manufacturer recommends, in order to prevent a major oil leak. The manufacturer’s recommendation is made to keep your car running for a long time; you can find out what this recommendation is by looking in your owner’s manual, visiting the manufacturer website, or calling the service desk at your local dealership. Thankfully, there is no harm in getting your oil changed too frequently—though this can take a toll on your wallet. There is no need to have the oil changed more regularly than what the manufacturer recommends.
Another Tip: Don’t wait until you see signs of oil leak, or the “low oil” light comes on—and if you do see that light come on, make your oil change a top priority. The light almost certainly means that whatever oil is left in your engine has lost its ability to function properly, which means your engine is undergoing a great deal of wear and tear.
How Many Miles Between Oil Changes?
Note that your manufacturer’s recommendation will involve mileage, which is a more reliable gauge than a timeframe. Some auto owners just take their cars in for oil changes every five to six months, but this does not take into account the seasons in which the vehicles are driven more or less than usual.
As for the specific mileage, all cars are different. The standard for older vehicles was often no more than 3,500 miles, but newer cars can often get 7,000 to 10,000 out of a single oil change. Again, the critical thing is to look at your manufacturer recommendation, and not to delay getting oil changed as needed, hopefully before your light comes on or you see oil leaks staining your driveway. To schedule an oil change with the Meineke team, contact our nearest local Meineke Car Care Center at your convenience.
Q: Why does my car leak oil when parked?
A: If you see a puddle of greasy-looking liquid on the ground after your vehicle has been parked for a while, then that means you have an oil pan leak, which usually indicates holes in your car’s oil pan or gaskets. Take your vehicle to a shop straight away.
Q: How much does it cost to fix an oil leak?
A: The cost will depend on whether it’s a major or minor oil leak, as different solutions are available for the fix. It also depends on the type of vehicle, the engine, and the location of the leak.
Q: Do I need an oil change if my car leaks oil?
Simply changing the oil will not fix the leak. First, you’ll have to identify the cause of the leak, conduct the necessary repairs, and then, depending on how much oil you’ve lost, either top it off or have it changed.
Q: Can I still drive with an oil leak?
A: It’s always advisable not to drive if your vehicle has an oil leak, but short distance drives, less than 10 miles, are not as risky when it comes to lowering your oil levels to a dangerous point.
Q: Is an oil leak serious?
A: The severity of a vehicle’s oil leak depends on several factors, such as the location of the leak and its size. Obviously, a major oil leak will lower your oil levels faster, and lead to other, more serious problems. For small leaks, the location matters the most, as a leak from the front crank seal or the timing cover will shorten the life of the timing belt or engine drive belts, while a valve cover gasket leak will get oil on the hot exhaust manifold, potentially causing smoke or even fire.
Q: How do I stop an oil leak?
Although there are several products on the market targeting DIY leak stops, the best course of action would be taking your car to a shop, because properly identifying the underlying cause is crucial.
You already know that your car cannot function safely or properly without good, sturdy wheels. What you may not know is that the wheel is far from a simple component. Actually, there is a lot of complexity that goes into the design of a wheel, and several components that must all be integrated together.
A good example of this is the wheel bearing. Wheel bearings are critical for your wheels to work together—specifically, for the hub, tire, and assemblies to work harmoniously. They are also prone to abuse, which is why it’s essential to know the warning signs. But before we go deeper into bad bearings, symptoms, impact, and costs, it’s equally important to understand what it is.
What is a Wheel Bearing?
A wheel bearing is a set of steel balls held together in a metal ring, called a race. At the center of your wheels, there is a hollow piece of metal, called a hub. The wheel bearings fit tightly inside this hub, and ride on a metal axle shaft, helping reduce friction when the wheel spins.
These are different from the engine bearings, as there is no constant source of lubrication for the wheel bearings, which means they need to be tight enough to keep away water and road dust. They also support the entire vehicle weight while driving, which is why they suffer a lot of abuse from rough roads, potholes, as well as lateral forces when turning.
As with most automotive components, the wheel bearing can eventually give way to wear and tear, and may even need to be replaced. How will you know when it’s time for a wheel bearing replacement or at least have your vehicle looked at by an automotive professional? Pay attention to some of the key warning signs of a bad wheel bearing.
How to Tell When Wheel Bearings Go Bad
Ball bearings are the most common type of wheel bearings used today (along with roller bearings—though the latter don’t have the versatility of the ball ones). Other types include tapered roller bearings, mainly used for trucks, and precision ball bearings, designed for intense radial loads. Regardless of the type your vehicle has, the warning signs are the same, specifically a bad wheel bearing sound.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind:
First and foremost, listen! The most common and most easily identifiable symptom of a bad wheel bearing is an audible one. If you notice a grinding or grating noise coming from your wheel or tire, take note that this is very likely caused by a bad wheel bearing—especially if the noise gets louder as the vehicle accelerates.
Another revealing sign of bad wheel bearings: A car that feels loose as you drive it. Looseness can be difficult to convey, but basically, it refers to steering your car and finding that it seems less responsive or less precise than usual. Loose steering is not always due to a problem with the wheel bearings, but it very often can be. Sometimes the wheel bearings can become worn down, which causes them to loosen within your wheel assembly.
A related phenomenon is pulling. When you drive, does the car go where you tell it to or does it seem like it has a mind of its own, veering in a particular direction? Again, this is not always because of a problem with the wheel bearing, but that can certainly be a culprit.
Finally, pay attention to your tires. Rotating your tires regularly can help prevent wear—but if you find that you have extremely uneven wear, you may want to have the wheel bearings looked at.
How to Distinguish Bad Wheel Bearing Noise
There are many sounds coming from a vehicle that are reason for concern, so it’s important to differentiate between them in order to avoid misdiagnosis. Noise can be misleading: a humming noise while driving can be caused by several different issues, starting with your tires, but it can also be the wheel bearing or CV joint.
Squealing & Growling
The classic sounds of a bad wheel bearing are cyclic chirping, squealing and/or growling noise. You can also tell that the sound is related to wheel bearings if it changes in proportion to vehicle speed. The sound can get worse with every turn, or it can disappear momentarily.
Rear Differential Noise vs Wheel Bearing Noise
Howling noise that solely occurs during deceleration is a pretty good indicator of loose pinion-bearing preload. If the howling happens under acceleration at different speeds, then it’s probably worn out gears. However, overly worn out bearings tend to make a howling noise as well, when they don’t support the gears correctly. They also tend to make a rumbling sound when turning.
A Bad Wheel Bearing is a Serious Problem
In short: A problem with the wheel bearings can compromise the smoothness of your ride and the longevity of your tires, but more than that, it can cause real safety concerns. As such, it is important to have wheel bearings inspected at the first sign of trouble.
Don’t take this often-ignored auto component for granted. Be attuned to these warning signs. At the first sign of trouble, take the vehicle in to have the wheel bearings inspected by a pro.
Q: Is it safe to drive with a bad wheel bearing?
A: No. It can, in fact, be very dangerous to drive if one of your bearings is worn out, especially since it may cause the wheel to stop while driving. Additionally, a damaged wheel bearing puts a lot of stress on the hub, the CV joint, and the transmission itself.
Q: What can happen if you have a bad wheel bearing?
A: A bad wheel bearing can cause several potentially dangerous situations, starting with your vehicle not being as responsive as it should be. Your tires will also wear out faster, and you can experience uneven tire wear. Last, but not least, your wheel can fall off completely while driving, as the bearing is an essential part of keeping the wheel attached to your car.
Q: How much does it cost to replace a wheel bearing?
A: A wheel bearing replacement is a standard job, so the cost should be very straightforward, depending on your vehicle year, make, and model. However, if other related issues are discovered, such as having to remove the steering knuckle in order to replace the wheel bearing, or having to replace some suspension components, then the costs will vary.
Q: What are the symptoms of a bad bearing?
A: Noise is the most common symptom of a bad wheel bearing. However, there are other potential signs as well, such as vibrations while driving. At low speeds, you will be able to feel the vibrations, while at higher speeds, they’ll manifest as humming sounds.
Charging a dead car battery is more than simply hooking up a charger if you want to do this job safely. You should know which terminal to remove first if you have to remove the battery, which terminal to hook up first on the charger, how long to charge a dead car battery and more.
Getting Ready to Charge
Before we get into how to charge a car battery at home, you need to know how to prepare to charge the battery. It is very easy to get a good shock if the battery does have some juice. Before you even get started, if you have to remove the battery from the vehicle to charge it, be sure you have the tools for the job. Some batteries are easily accessible; however, some are under or in the fender and some may even be in the trunk or under the seat depending on the make and model of your vehicle.
How to Jump a Car Battery
Be sure all accessories are off and the lights, including the interior light, are off. If you have anything on, it could cause the battery to arc while you are working with it.
Once you get down to the battery, remove the negative or ground cable first. This is always the black cable unless someone replaced the cables with the wrong colors. If you look on the top of the battery, you can see which is which – the ground cable will have a negative (-) sign and the power or positive cable will have a plus (+) sign.
Clean the battery terminals with a terminal cleaning brush and a mixture of baking soda and water to neutralize the battery acid. If the battery terminals and posts have a lot of acid buildup, wear eye protection and a mask so the airborne corrosion does not contact your eyes, nose and mouth. Don’t touch your face until after you’ve washed your hands.
If the battery has removable caps, carefully pry the caps off and check the level of the water. If any of the cells looks low, add distilled water only; and take care to not overfill the battery. Most batteries today are “maintenance-free” so you won’t be able to open them to check the acid level.
Hooking up the Battery Charger
Follow the instructions for your particular charger. Basic instructions for most chargers include:
Make sure the charger is off.
Hook-up the positive cable on the charger to the positive terminal on the battery.
Hook up the negative cable on the charger to the negative terminal on the battery.
Set the charger to the slowest charge rate.
Turn on the charger and set the timer.
When removing the charger, turn it off first, then remove the positive then negative cable.
How Long Should You Charge a Car Battery?
If the battery voltage is below 11.85 and your charger is putting out a 5-amp charge rate, it will take about 12 hours to fully charge a battery with 400 to 500 cold cranking amps. The same battery will take about 6 hours to fully charge if the charge rate is 10 amps. The lower the open circuit voltage in the battery and the more cold cranking amps, the longer it will take to charge the battery.
If a cell is bad, the battery won’t hold a charge. In this case, bring your battery or your vehicle with your battery to a local Meineke Car Care Center and we will change your vehicle’s battery.
Few things are more frustrating than getting into your car only to find that the engine won’t start. Often, the problem is as simple as a dead battery. Although this is obviously inconvenient, you can always attempt to jump start the car in order to revive the dead battery. This is assuming you have jumper cables, another vehicle with a working engine and some basic knowledge of how battery recharges work.
If you’ve never jumped a dead battery before, you may have a few questions. For example: How long does it take to charge the battery? How long should you give it before trying to power the engine and get back on the road—and at what point do you throw in the towel and admit that there might be a deeper issue with the car engine?
Jumping a Dead Battery: Birdseye View
To start the process of re-charging the battery, you’ll first need to get the good car and the bad car as close together as possible. Then, you’ll attach the red/positive cable to the battery terminal in the good car and then to the dead one. You’ll also do the same with the black/negative cable.
Now here is where you’ll want to time things. Turn on the engine in the good car and wait two minutes. Then turn on the bad/dead one and wait an additional two minutes. From there you’ll remove the cable in the reverse order at which you put them on, and you’ll let the car run for two more minutes before you get back on the road.
What if That Doesn’t Work?
So what happens if that doesn’t work? If that’s the case, there may be something else wrong with your vehicle.
Some possibilities for this scenario include:
The terminals on your car battery may be corroded and in need of a deep cleaning.
Your battery may simply be very old, and beyond the point at which it can be repaired—in which case, of course, it will need to be replaced.
There may be a problem elsewhere in the engine—with the alternator, a blown starter, or something else.
Obviously, there are times when a battery recharge is not only possible, but fairly straightforward. So long as you know what you are doing, it shouldn’t take but a few minutes to recharge the dead battery. But if you are still unsure about the process, you may want to request help as it can be dangerous.
If the problem turns out to be something more serious than a dead battery, you’ll want to take your car to your local Meineke Car Care Center, where the problem can be diagnosed and repaired as quickly as possible.
Let’s say for a moment that you successfully get your car battery jumped, and are able to make it to your destination. But then, the next time you try to start your engine, you experience the same problems—clicks, sputters, all the telltale sign of a dead battery.
If your battery “dies” twice in a row like that, it simply means that it didn’t successfully hold its charge the first time. There are several potential causes to consider.
The Causes of a Failed Charge
Some of the most common reasons why a battery won’t hold its charge include:
– You’ve left your lights on—or some other accessory that draws battery power—even when the car hasn’t been running.
– Even while you were driving the car, the battery wasn’t recharging. This is a mechanical problem, and something you’ll want to discuss with the service pros at Meineke.
– You simply didn’t drive the car around for very long once you jumped it; remember, you’ll want to keep the engine running for at least a few minutes to ensure it builds a decent charge. Spending about 20 minutes driving around town is ideal.
– There is some sort of a parasitic electrical drain on the battery—more likely than not caused by a bad alternator.
– The battery is simply very old, and no longer capable of holding a charge for very long. If this is the case, you’ll need to replace it. That’s something we can do for you at Meineke.
These are not the only potential causes of your battery woes, but they represent the most likely scenarios.
Diagnosing the Problem
To determine which of these scenarios you’re dealing with, here are a few troubleshooting tips.
1. First, simply turn on your headlights. If they come on with their normal brightness, your problem is probably a bad starter or poor wiring—not the battery itself. If the lights do not come on at all, or if they’re dimmer than normal, then the problem is more likely with the battery.
2. Next, test the voltage of your battery. To do this, get a voltmeter and connect the red lead to the positive terminal and the black lead to the negative terminal. Hopefully, you’ll get a reading of over 12.6 volts, showing a fully charged battery—but if not, there’s definitely an issue with the battery being poorly charged.
3. From there, consider the condition of the battery itself. Does it look obviously corroded or worn out? Is it more than four years old? If so, then the simplest solution may be to have the battery replaced.
4. Finally, consider whether the problem is your alternator. If you detect cracking or fraying in the alternator cables, that’s an obvious sign that something’s off. And if you jump start the car only for the battery to quickly lose its charge and the engine to stall, that’s suggestive of an alternator issue.
These are some effective ways to figure out why your battery won’t hold a charge—but what if it won’t jumpstart at all? If you followed our step-by-step guide and your engine still won’t turn, there could be a number of potential reasons.
Of course, it’s optimal to keep your battery from dying at all. This isn’t always possible—eventually, every battery dies out—but there are some things you can do to prolong your battery life for as long as possible.
For starters, make sure you make regular battery tests part of your routine maintenance. When you take your vehicle to Meineke for an oil change and tire rotation, also ask them to check the battery life, and to let you know when it’s time to think about a replacement.
Protect your battery from extreme weather. Garage it during the winter or summer, whenever possible—and if it’s not possible, consider an insulated blanker to keep your battery safe.
If you’re going out of town and won’t be driving the car for a few weeks, see if a friend can come rev it up and take it around the block once or twice, ensuring that the battery stays charged.
Of course, you also want to double and triple check to be sure you aren’t leaving lights or appliances on when the vehicle isn’t running—these are major drains on the battery life.
Battery life is something you can extend through regular, preventative maintenance. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment for a battery test, we invite you to reach out to your nearest Meineke service location today. Ask us how we can help you keep your vehicle battery in good working order!
If your efforts to jumpstart the battery don’t go anywhere, it’s likely for one of these reasons:
1. First, it may be that the terminals on your car battery need a deep cleaning. We’ll offer some tips for this in just a moment!
2. Your battery may simply be very old, and beyond the point at which it can be repaired—in which case, of course, it will need to be replaced.
3. Finally, note that there could be another mechanical problem somewhere in the vehicle, such as blown fuses or a bad alternator. A Meineke service technician can help diagnose and fix any of these problems.
It has probably happened to you before.You go to turn your ignition, and nothing happens. Maybe you hear a few clicks. Another dead car battery? You need to fix this and get your vehicle back on the road – fast. If you are prepared, you already have a good set of jumper cables in your car. Now all you need to do is to learn how to jump start a car battery.
You don’t need many tools to jump a car battery. First, you must find a functioning car to use for the jump-start. Make sure that both car owners are comfortable opening the hood and identifying the battery and battery terminals. Jumper cables are the most popular tool used to jump start cars because they are inexpensive and easy to store. Jumper cables usually come in a variety of lengths, ranging from 10-20 feet. Some people think longer cables are better so that you do not have to move a car with a dead battery. But, while longer cables provide convenience, they may lose power as the longer the cable, the farther the energy has to travel. The gauge of the cable denotes the strength of the cables. The lower the gauge, the thicker the cables and the stronger they are. Gauge six is a standard size for jumper cables.
You should consider all safety risks before performing any basic maintenance or repair on your car. First, make sure that small children are in a safe area away from the engine while you are establishing how to jump a dead car battery. Take a moment to read the manual of your car. Some vehicles require extra steps in order to have a successful jump. If you’re unsure of what to do, contact your local Meineke Car Care Center for advice. Assuming that your car will permit a jump, you should be careful to prevent dangerous electric shocks. When you handle the jumper cables, be aware that their function is to transmit electrical current from one car to another. Once one end of the jumper cables is connected to a car, do not touch the metal clamps to anything but the appropriate target. It’s also recommended that you wear a pair of protective glasses in case sparks go flying into the air.
Buying gas is one of life’s small conundrums. Most of us have little idea what those numbers on the pump mean, so we usually just pick one that seems to correlate best to our stage in life. When we’re starving students, we go for the less expensive 87 octane. If we drive a nice car and we’re feeling flush, bring on the 91! While buying what you can afford might seem like a smart approach, this kind of simple calculation actually misses hidden costs you should be considering. Before we get to those, let’s clarify what octane levels actually are and what they mean for your car. If you are wondering whether high octane fuel equals better fuel economy, you first need an understanding of how fuel interacts with your engine.
What Are Octane Levels?
Octane actually has two definitions. In its simplest sense, octane is the name of a chemical compound. This flammable hydrocarbon, in combination with several others, is what makes gasoline. When ignited, it powers your car’s engine. The second definition of octane refers to the amount of energy required to ignite the gasoline. These octane level numbers (87, 89, 91, etc.) are a percentage of the fuel’s performance measured against pure (100%) octane. Lower octane gas burns quicker than higher octane, and so require less energy to ignite. However, this also means that lower octanes burn more quickly in high pressure environments, and can have a greater tendency to knock. Knocking occurs when the gasoline is burning fast and is also under high pressure environments. When this occurs there are small gasoline explosions occurring within the engine. These small explosions interfere with the cylinders’ normal operation and can damage engine parts. Ignoring these knocks can result in an expensive repair and reduce your car’s performance significantly.
So Why Use High Octane Fuel?
High octane fuel may prevent engine knock, which is a useful quality in a fuel. This is why luxury cars that use higher-pressure engines sometimes require premium gasoline. Higher octane gasoline reduces knocks and pings in high-pressure environments which exert more energy and burn fuel quicker. If your car manual doesn’t require you to use high octane fuel, using it anyway probably won’t help. Stick with the type of fuel that best suits your car’s engine requirements.
Wait, But What Octane Fuel Should I Use?
Good question. Your car’s owner manual will recommend the fuel you should be using for best performance, and that’s the type to go with. If your manual says unleaded (87) is enough, then it is. If it advises premium (usually 91), then heed its advice.
So is Higher Octane Fuel More Efficient?
In a word, no. On its own paying for premium gasoline does not make your car run better or get greater gas mileage. Giving your car the fuel it requires to run smoothly and efficiently, without damage to the engine, does make a difference in your fuel mileage.
So How Can I Learn to Improve Fuel Economy?
First, get your car serviced regularly. If your engine isn’t in good repair, you can waste fuel. The same holds true if your tires are underinflated, which can reduce fuel efficiency up to 0.3% for every pound of pressure dropped in all four tires, says fueleconomy.gov. And, just as you should use the recommended fuel octane level of your manufacturer, you should also use the right grade of motor oil. Doing so can definitely make your fuel go farther. Second, lighten your load wherever possible. Remove your roof storage rack whenever you aren’t hauling anything, and don’t leave unused cargo sitting there. It adds significant weight to your car, which means you need to burn more gas to go the same distance. You should also regularly clean out your trunk or back cargo area for the same reason. Third, avoid idling while waiting for long periods of time. Although it may seem easier to leave the car running, this wastes a lot of gas, especially if you have the air conditioner on too. When possible, open the window to cool off. And on the highway, use cruise control when possible. By keeping your speed even, you avoid accelerating and decelerating, and save fuel.
Does How I Drive Matter?
Yes, your driving style impacts your fuel economy significantly. We’re not trying to be backseat drivers, but observing the speed limit and driving safely also improves your bottom line. When you accelerate rapidly, step on the brakes, stop and start a lot, and drive at excessive speeds, you waste gas. If you want to preserve the fuel in your tank, the best thing you can do is take a sensible approach to drive.
Any Last Tips?
Fuel economy is a confusing issue, but hopefully this explanation has been enlightening. When in doubt, stick to the recommended octane level in your owner’s manual and you’ll be fine. Aside from that, the best things you can do to stretch your gas mileage are to drive well and service your car regularly, and bring it in whenever something seems wrong. If you notice any trouble with your car, such as funny sounds, pulling, using fuel faster than normal, leaking, or not performing to its usual standard, bring your car into your local Meineke Car Care Center – we’re here to help with nearly 950 centers nationwide, amazing store hours and a convenient online scheduler.
There are a couple of ways to keep your car clean—either paying for an automated car wash service or simply grabbing a bucket and sponge and tackling it yourself. However you do it, car washing is important—and not just for the obvious aesthetic reasons.
Why Having a Clean Car Matters
Your vehicle is a major investment. You spend a decent chunk of cash to get it, and then you spend more money maintaining it over the years—occasionally replacing tires, having the oil changed and the transmission fluid replaced, getting repairs made to your brakes, and so on and so forth. In the end, you’re going to be putting a lot of money into your vehicle, so naturally, you want to do anything you can to protect that investment. Regularly washing your vehicle is a simple and effective way to do that. That’s because the appearance of your car is one of the first things people will notice. If they see a vehicle that’s covered in rust and faded paint, that signals to them that you haven’t taken care of the vehicle very well-meaning the value of the vehicle can actually drop. Routine car washes present an excellent way to avoid this. Incidentally, it’s also an inexpensive way to put some TLC into your vehicle!
Common Car Hazards
Your vehicle is naturally going to get a bit dirty just through regular use—but there are some specific hazards you’ll want to be aware of, too.
If you live near the coast, or in an area where the roads get salted during winter, that salt can accumulate and do damage to the undercarriage of your vehicle. Bird droppings and dead bug splats, in addition to being nasty, can also corrode your paint over time. For those who live in wooded areas, tree sap can also fall down onto the vehicle and cause long-term corrosion. The bottom line: There are plenty of everyday hazards that, over time, can do significant damage to your vehicle, even lowering its value. That’s what makes regular washing so essential.
How Often to Wash Your Vehicle
Yes, but how regular is regular? That is, how frequently should vehicle owners give their cars scrub-downs? The general rule of thumb is to wash your car every two weeks or so. Of course, there are special circumstances that might increase or decrease that frequency. If you live in a part of the country where some of the aforementioned hazards are quite common, you’ll need to wash your vehicle more regularly. By contrast, if you keep it in a garage and only drive once or twice a month, such regular washing might not be necessary. What’s important is that you take care of your vehicle—yes, even its outside. Washing your car frequently is a great and ultimately inexpensive way of protecting your investment in it. Make sure you’re setting aside some time for routine car washes!