Year-Round Driving Tips

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Your car might last 250 years if you never drive it. It might last 50 years if you drive it only to church on Sunday. And it might last only 2 years if you drive it every day like a maniac, regardless of the preventive maintenance you perform.

You must realize that your car is constructed of hundreds of parts that are bolted, screwed, and welded together. You need to be aware that there are dozens of fine adjustments that must be made and maintained throughout the car to keep it running smoothly. Poor driving habits and reckless driving tend to undo your car. Soon, joints loosen up and adjustments need to be attended to. Make every effort to break poor driving habits. Drive like your life and your car’s life depend on it, because they do. By following the driving tips outlined below, you should be able to add many miles of life to your car, and keep some of those hard-earned dollars in your wallet.

SPRING, SUMMER, AND FALL

Engine

1. Avoid sudden stops and starts; easy does it.

2. Avoid revving the engine.

3. Take your time wherever you go. If you get to where you’re going early, you’ll only have to wait.

4. Shut the engine off if the car is idling more than a few minutes. You’re wasting gas otherwise.

5. Check oil, coolant, battery, and power steering fluid levels periodically as recommended in earlier sections. Do it every 500 miles on a cross-country trip.

Transmission

1. Check transmission fluid level before taking a long trip.

2. Make sure the car is completely stopped before shifting from forward to re verse or reverse to forward; don’t be in a rush.

3. Don’t spin the wheels on slippery surfaces or loose stones. When they suddenly grab solid road they will put a tremendous torque on the drivetrain.

4. Don’t pop the clutch or “wind” the car out in any one gear; your high school days are over!

Tires

1. Keep sudden stops and starts at a minimum, for emergencies only.

2. Keep tires properly inflated at all times.

3. Slow down for corners and curves.

4. Drive around glass, metal, or potholes in or on the road.

5. Take bumps in the road lightly. Drive slowly over railroad tracks.

Brakes and Suspension

1. Apply brakes gradually and firmly. Avoid slamming them on.

2. Don’t “ride” the brakes while driving.

3. Take your foot off the brake for just a second to cool them off, such as when traveling down a long, steep hill.

4. Drive as evenly and as smoothly as possible under all road conditions. Your springs, shocks and suspension joints will thank you.

Miscellaneous Tips

1. Park your car away from objects such as other cars, curbs, telephone poles, parking meters, and trees.

2. Keep your distance behind other vehicles, especially trucks.

3. Don’t drive while drunk, angry or emotionally upset. Have someone else drive.

4. For better gas mileage, try driving at an average speed of about 45 to 50 mph where legal. Most cars get their best mileage at this speed.

5. If you’re going on a trip, pack luggage wisely on car top carriers. Keep the pile well tied down, as low as possible, with taller items toward the rear. This saves on gasoline by keeping aerodynamic drag on the car to a minimum. Remove the luggage racks when you’re done with them.

WINTER DRIVING

1. Don’t spin the tires in ice or snow or rock the car to free it. Push it or have it towed.

2. Keep winter speeds reduced. You will still get to where you’re going in time by leaving earlier.

3. Don’t downshift while traveling up an icy hill. You’ll lose traction and could find yourself in a real fix if there is traffic behind you.

4. Remove tire chains when regular or snow tires will provide needed traction.

5. Keep the battery fully charged at all times.

6. For extremely cold-weather operation, install an engine oil heater for easier starting. Carry a can of ether spray for emergency starting. (Caution. ether is poisonous.) Don’t crank a cold engine more than 30 seconds at a time.

7. Make sure the heater, defroster, windshield wipers, and washers are in top shape. Carry an ice scraper, brush, and even an aerosol windshield de-icer.

8. Drive smoothly and conservatively on slick roads. Don’t make sudden or jerky movements. And don’t drive until the windows are clear of frost or ice.

9. Install snow tires before the first snow. Installing them over the Thanksgiving holiday usually works out well.

10. Stopping distances increase by over 400% on ice and snow. Gauge yourself accordingly. Keep the wheels pointed straight ahead when moving through deep snow. Leave the plowing to the snow plow.

Fuel Selection

Oil companies formulate their gasolines with dry gas during the winter months to help prevent moisture entrapment in the fuel system. Therefore, there are normally no special gasolines or additives to buy during the winter. Adding a can of dry gas to your tank won’t hurt anything but your pocketbook.

Oil Selection

Multi-viscosity oils behave like thin oils at low temperatures and like thick oils at high temperatures. If you use a 30-weight oil year-round, you might experience starting problems in the winter, especially if your battery is weak. Using a 10W-30 or 10W-40 oil will allow easier starting in the winter, because at low temperatures the oil behaves like a thinner 10-weight oil. In extremely cold climates, consider using a 5W-20 oil for good starting down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. For even colder climates, you should be using a pre-heater to heat the oil overnight.

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