5 Tips to Avoid Car Breakdowns

Cars are complex mechanical marvels. However, they do eventually breakdown. The best way to prevent car breakdowns is preventative maintenance. You can do many of the steps of preventative maintenance at home. For those that can’t, these can be quick stops at your local oil change shop. These tips can help, especially if planning a road trip.

​​What is Preventative Maintenance?

Preventative maintenance is much like it sounds. It’s regular servicing of equipment to prevent future failure. With cars, this means having a routine check-up to regularly. This ensures that all of the moving parts are in tip-top form.

​Here are five of the most important maintenance projects that will keep your car on the road:

1. Maintain Regular Services

For some, especially those with older cars, these services are easy enough to do from home with the tools you have in your garage. But for those with newer cars, or those who are less mechanically inclined, you may want to hire a professional for these services: ​
Oil Changes 
Keeping your oil filters fresh, sludge-free and your oil levels topped off, is essential to the operation of your car. The oil acts as a lubricant for all the moving metal parts in your engine. When your oil is old and dirty, or the filter is clogged up, it causes excess wear on the engine. This can cause major breakdowns in critical functions of your car.

Keeping your brakes in good shape is the difference between life and death in some circumstances. If your brakes start to squeal, chances are your brake pads are low, and you should replace them soon. This is a job that can be done at home, or most tire shops can help with this project.
Fluid levels:
Your engine depends on you to maintain its fluid levels. Oil lubricates the system, and brake fluid maintains the pressure in the brake lines. This makes the brakes stop your tires when you apply your foot to the brake pedal. Transmission fluid keeps your car shifting from gear to gear and power steering fluid keeps your steering wheel easy to turn. Windshield wiper fluid helps keep your windshield clear when you need to clean your windshield from road grime and debris.

​ These are all critical fluids to keep your car’s systems moving you forward.

Daily wear and tear on your tires will deplete the tires of their tread. Aggressive driving can make this process go faster. You need the tread on your tires to grip the road and keep you safe.

Keeping the depth of your tread in mind will prevent collisions and flat tires in most cases. The easiest way to check the tread depth is to use the penny test. You want the tread to cover Lincoln’s head. This ensures you have at least ⅛ inch of tread. If you’ve got less, it’s time for a tire upgrade.

Weather is also an indicator of your need to change tires. If your area experiences heavy snow, it’s advisable to switch out to snow or studded tires at the beginning of the season, and back to regular tires at the end of the season. Another option is to opt for Siped All-Weather tires.

2. Non-aggressive Driving

Sometimes, aggressive driving is necessary, but most of the time, it’s not. Developing healthy driving habits will extend the life of your car by reducing the heavy wear on the mechanical workings.

​Some examples of how aggressive driving can damage your car’s engine, and promote car breakdowns are below:

Hard Stops and Starts 
These wear down your brakes faster than smooth transitions. Also, applying brakes constantly downhill (or dragging) causes heat buildup that damages your brake system.

Revving Your Engine in the Cold
This can create drastic heat changes, causing damage to the metal in your engine block and other parts.

Riding the Clutch
On a manual transmission, riding the clutch can damage the bearings, causing transmission failure over the long term.

Burnouts and Skid Stops 
These can damage your tires and your brakes.

3. Avoid Hauling Extra Weight

In winter weather, having excess weight in the back of your car can help with traction, but it’s unnecessary for the rest of the year to haul around sandbags, bricks, and random excess. When you haul extra weight, your car has to work harder to maintain its operation. Extra weight can also reduce your gas mileage, making your car less efficient than it could be. ​

4. Don’t Ignore the Warning Lights on Your Instrument Panel

Every one of those lights is there for a reason. When a light pops on in your dash, it’s a warning that something isn’t right. If you’re unfamiliar with what the light is telling you, take a look at the user manual for your car. Each light is outlined in it and there are also solutions mentioned for troubleshooting the problem.

You can also go to any local parts store and ask them to run a diagnostics scan on your car. They have tools to plug into your car’s system and read the warning light triggers. Jot down the codes you get and take them to a mechanic for repairs.

5. Learn to Listen to Your Car

Your car will always have road-noise, the pedals will always have a vibration, and the steering wheel will always have a certain feel as you drive. Pay close attention to these things, and be aware of any change in them as you drive.
​Especially in older model cars, you’ll often hear or feel a change before a warning light will ping. For example, a brake pad that has worn unevenly will shimmy before it squeals in most cases. Low tire pressure in one or more tires may cause a drift in the steering that isn’t usually there. A leak in the oil may cause a burning smell as it drips on the hot engine block, or a bubbling sound may alert you to an overheating radiator before the temperature spikes.

Tow Truck Services RI

Your car will talk to you if you listen to it. Taking care of your vehicle, learning basic maintenance, and discovering your car’s quirks are the best defense against car breakdowns. When you can’t avoid a breakdown, we’re here to help. From running out of gas to lockouts, and side of the road breakdowns, give us a call for a tow and we’ll be on our way. ​