"Drivers from a warm and coastal climate, move to Alberta for oil/gas jobs and do not winterize their vehicle.
I had a young man work for me on the farm, helping me combine during the fall. He had an old pickup truck that was in awesome shape. I told him that cold weather was coming and he should change his fluids. The young guy shrugged it off and wanted to plug his block heater all the time. I found him a Service rig job close by that he could drive to. He got up early to go to work, fired up his truck and was back in 10 minutes. I had already gone away to work and could not help him. The engine was frozen and water was leaking out the frost plug holes by the time he got back. In his own climate, this would never happen. But, in Alberta, -20 c to -30 c is pretty normal in December, January, and February. I think he tried to run that engine again and it would not run well. He abandoned the truck and had his new employer pick him up for winter. If you live in a cold climate, check your belts, check the strength of your antifreeze, put in synthetic oil in your engine.
Clean your battery terminals check battery fluid level. make sure your windshield washer fluid is rated minus 40. Change to winter tires. Have booster cables in the car. If your car will not heat up in winter get the thermostat changed.
Lastly, if you have to drive a lot in winter and your engine will not heat up, PARTIALLY block the air flow over your radiator."
"When you park on a hill, you're stopped with your foot on the brake. Set the emergency brake firmly THEN release your foot from the pedal. This puts the weight of the car on the e-brake, not the transmission.
Although the transmission is fully capable of holding the weight of the car, the key is then when you go to drive the car later, reverse order: foot on brake THEN release e-brake THEN into gear. so the weight transfers from e-brake to pedal, not e-brake to transmission or transmission to pedal.
This prevents the loud and jarring 'thud' when you shift from park."
"Actual mechanic here. I've been a professional mechanic for years, I went to college for automotive technology, and I'm an ASE Certified Master Technician."
I will say one thing I see quite a bit that you may not know, is when people almost exclusively take short trips, never allowing their vehicles to get up to temp, and always babying their car. ESPECIALLY direct injection engines. It's important for your vehicle to get up to operating temperature, and also for you to flog it from time to time. Failure to do so will result in large amounts of carbon deposits on your intake valves. Carbon deposits can build to the point where your car will not run correctly. This can be dealt with by driving the heck out of it from time to time.
Some customers end up paying us good money to take their car out for them, and beat the heck out of it, knocking the carbon off the valves. If it's too bad, we have to take off the intake and clean them manually. Happens about once a week."
"If you constantly turn your wheel to the point where it cannot turn no more, and hold it in that position (most of the time this is done in parking lots, U-turns etc.) your likelihood of busting a power steering line is quite high.
There is a noticeable audible sound when you do this, and when the wheel is cranked all the way it prevents the power steering systems fluid from reaching the gearbox because the flow is blocked, thus creating backpressure in the system. The first part to bust in this situation is the pressure line to the gearbox."
"The biggest thing would be oil changes.
I run Mobil 1 synthetic and change the oil in my turbo Volvo every 10K miles. My oil analysis says I can go far longer, but I like having a bit of a margin in a turbo engine. Short drives where the engine isn't fully hot and burning off condensate is harder on the oil.
Another big thing is flogging a cold engine. Start the car, drive off immediately (or let it sit until the RPMs drop to normal idle in a few seconds) and BE GENTLE until the temp gauge hits the normal temp. Then you can get more aggressive. This is to let all metal parts expand and let the engine get to temp and Closed Loop where it uses all sensor input to run as well as it can.
After that - timing belt and water pump replacement? On interference engines (most of them these days) a bad timing belt or water pump (which breaks the timing belt) will ruin your engine. That can often be more expensive than the entire car (as Volvo owners well know).
Cars can be horribly abused and still be reliable.
You don't need to change the air filters. The car will adjust the fuel mixture for the decrease in the air. You can drive on bald tires (and kill yourself and others if bad juju happens) and you can run out of gas (the gas pump won't suffer, seriously!) and walk in shame, carrying a gallon jug. Brakes can squeak and pulse and still stop the car - but that's a safety issue. You DO want to stop the car, right? Ride the clutch or not? Your call for clutch packs and throw-out bearings. Drive an automatic with two feet? Faster reaction times, yes, but most people burn out brakes and brake lights sooner by riding the brake pedal."
"Not flushing your antifreeze after changing a part that's in the cooling system.
The Green coolant uses silicone to protect the engine from cavitation.
Cavitation is microscopic bubbles that form on the edge of the coolant where it meets the block of your engine or any other part of the cooling system. When these bubbles pop they take microscopic pieces of the metal with them causing a crevasse. The metal gets suspended in the coolant and basically sand blasts the inside of the cooling system.
Now, the typical Green antifreeze has silicone particles suspended in it. This silicone will attach and create a barrier on the inside of the cooling system stopping cavitation. Basically creating a liner.
Now, say your water pump goes out. You replace it but don't flush or add new coolant. Your new part won't last long because the silicone is all 'slung out' on to the cooling system walls. There is no more suspended silicone to cover the new part. This leaves it unprotected against cavitation, and allows the floating metal from cavitation and left over casting sand to further destroy the new part by sand blasting it.
Extended life antifreeze protects the engine with phosphorus, basically preventing it from boiling 100% but won't protect copper. So never use extended life antifreeze on a cooling system with copper in it. It actually breaks it down. It also slowly degrades rubber. So, every 2 years replace your radiator cap."
"Letting your car sit is just as bad. Tires crack, AC system seals dry out and leak refrigerant. Other seals dry out.
Gas lines begin to gum up or water forms in the gas from condensation, while batteries slowly discharge then freeze and split.
Oh, and rust will form on any bearing that is exposed and begin to start quickly pitting and leading up to the death of your bearings (can happen to any bearing; pick one)."
"As a licenced mechanic, please do not keep putting off repairs until it is too late.
I see many vehicles come into the shop for a simple oil change and during that time sometimes you can find multiple items that need to be addressed whether it has worn parts (regular wear and tear) maintenance items such as timing Belts and filters etc. Or items that have been broken from abuse.
Normally, a customer will give you permission to do the repairs but most of the time the ones that decline usually end up coming back later on either on the hook or under their own power. Now that you have waited and things have gotten worse, the repair bill usually increases due to more damage. Ask your mechanic what needs to be done right away and what can be done at another time.
If you can't afford something due to financial reasons get a quote for the repair and start a savings timeline that way when you do the repair you will have the funds for it.
Last but not least, invest in a quality set of tires. I know sometimes they can be rather expensive for certain vehicles but remember they are the only part on the vehicle that keeps in constant contact with the road surface.'
"Using cheap gas:
I can't even count how many times we've fixed a car by just running a tank of Shell or Chevron premium.
Or how many times we've done an extremely expensive fix because someone wants to be cheap and run Arco.
Also, driving with less than a 1/4 tank of gas:
It's an electric motor that's cooled by being submerged in gasoline. Not that I'm aware of any exploding I wouldn't want to find out and some manufacturers actually have had recalls over fuel pumps running too hot and being a fire hazard. Plus it's just really bad for the pump running with no gas."
"Slipping a clutch excessively on a manual transmission car is just as bad as dumping it. The former wears out the friction plate early and the latter beats up your driveshaft(s)/CV joints/u-joints. The key to longevity is to master getting the clutch in and out as soon as possible without jerking the vehicle into motion when accelerating or chirping the tires when decelerating.
Likewise for an auto transmission doing jack-rabbit starts (i.e., pounding the gas) to start will wear out the clutch packs quicker as will manually downshifting at speed.
Auto transmissions have the benefit of being cooled by their hydraulic fluid but they will still wear out sooner if you routinely pound them.
The harder you drive, the quicker they will wear out. It's common sense to a gearhead but not so much to an aggressive driver. "
"I also went to school for automotive technology.
Waiting for your car to warm up before you drive it will extend its lifespan considerably.
Think of it like this:
Your car has a temperature it's intended to work at, this is called 'running temperature'. All your piston/crankshaft/camshaft bearings are designed with tolerances and materials in mind for optimum performance at 'running temperature'.
Before your car achieves 'running temperature,' the gaps between your bearings are large enough to allow for the expansion of the materials. Basically, your engine grows fractionally when it heats up and this growth planned for in the gap tolerances in your engine bearings. Without the heat expansion, you're increasing the impact of every movement.
A way to visualize this is easy: Give yourself 12 inches between your fist and a pillow. Punch the pillow. Now give yourself 1 inch between your fist and your pillow. Punch the pillow. More gap = more space to build energy = bigger impact = more damage. When your engine is cold, you're giving your bearings the full-blown haymaker. When it's warm, you're attempting the Bruce Lee 1-inch punch."
"When your car gets hot don't keep driving and don't spray the engine with water. Damage can be done well before the needle hits the red zone.
Changing your oil every 3000 miles will not keep your car in top shape, there are many things that need done and inspected regularly.
If you know something is wrong don't keep putting it off. A $10 thermostat can lead to a $1000+ repair if ignored.
Also one of the biggest things I can say is dealers don't have your best interest in mind. They like to sell you quick easy jobs usually based on mileage that doesn't need to be done. Example change sparks plugs. Generally, most new cars are rated to go 100k miles on the original plugs. The dealer I worked at tried to sell you a tune up every 24k miles that had spark plugs and a bottle of injector cleaner we poured in the gas tank and change oil and rotate tires then charged $4-500. Most people left feeling like they did something good for their car when in reality they wasted the money.
Changing your differential and transfer case fluid was another big one that they try to sell you a way to often. Because it's quick and cheap for the dealer and easy to talk the consumer into dropping a couple hundred on it. Find a reliable mechanic, dealer maintained don't mean much..."
"Holding your foot on the brake at traffic lights.
Brakes work by converting kinetic energy into heat via friction. That means your brake discs/rotors get hot. Mega hot. Wicked hot.
So if you've done lots of city driving and you pull up at some traffic lights, and you decide to clamp one section of this disc between two brake pads, it's not going to cool at the same rate as the rest of the disc. This leads to buckling, known as warped discs, as well as cooked pads (the surface turns all glassy, so it doesn't brake as well as it should).
Do this regularly, and you're dramatically decreasing the effectiveness of the system that stops you plowing into the back of the car in front. Your sheer laziness regarding the handbrake is putting your life in danger. Why would you do that? Do you have a death wish?"
"Use your air conditioning, or lose it. If you don't run it at least a few minutes a month it will go bad...seals will dry out and you will lose your freon.
Also, it helps, a lot, with defrosting. I just leave mine on all the time.
I just sold a car with 235k miles and the A/C was working perfectly. I have friends who never use theirs for years, then turn it on on a super hot day only to find it doesn't work."
"Ex-mechanic here. Biggest car sin: Buying a high-performance car or getting the performance engine option and then driving it like grandma.
Holy carbon build-up! It's amazing how many people fail to realize that performance engines need to be driven hard and to redline every now and then. They build up carbon and choke themselves shut. Have direct injection? Guess what? It's far WORSE for carbon buildup because the valves are not being washed with fuel.
My significant other bought a Fiat 500 Abarth. It normally makes 23 psi of boost (with an aftermarket boost controller), but every time I'd borrow the car it seemed to drop 1 psi. Well, eventually the car would barely make 12 psi of boost, so I got fed up and 'borrowed' the car for a road trip (minus my significant other) through the interior of BC. 4 days of abuse later, the car makes full boost and is happy again."
"So this team of engineers, who made your car, wrote this book. Inside this book is a series of tasks spaced out at even intervals. These intervals are called miles. When you reach said interval flip to the corrisponding page of the aforementioned book. Do ALL OF THOSE THINGS EVEN IF YOU "Don't think it needs it yet".
That's all it takes. That's it.
If it starts making a loud noise that it didn't make yesterday, go to someone smarter than you and let them fix it.
Used to be a mechanic and I would have been out of a job if people followed those steps."
"I am former ASE Master Mechanic (a long time ago though), Maintenance manager at a dealership, Auto Parts Department salesman, and doing own mechanic work for years.
People who never replace their shock absorbers/struts, they are not designed to last forever. In fact, most of them are only rated for around 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
I know several people who have had vehicles with much more mileage than that on them and never had them changed. Also, not replacing them will eventually cause your vehicles ride to become unstable and can be dangerous. It also can/will cause premature wear and tear on other parts, which means more money going to repairs.
As far as getting alignments is concerned, it's probably safe to wait to have it done until you have your tires replaced. Still, I have seen people refuse alignments when having their tires changed because they did not want to spend the extra money to do so. Bad alignment can cause premature tire wear, and they just got new tires, so it's stupid that they don't do so. Also, it is sometimes just smart to have your alignment checked periodically. Especially if you live in an area that has rough roads/surfaces the majority of the time and you repeatedly drive on them."
"Mechanic here. I want to share some lesser known, yet, useful car knowledge, and the reasoning behind it
1. Have your side view mirrors angled so that you can see your car in them.
There's no point being able to see cars behind you if you have no reference point to where your own car is.
2. Inflate tires to what it says on the door sticker.
The max pressure rating written on the tire is not a recommendation. Having it inflated too high will wear your tires out prematurely and make them hard as rocks. However, too low will also wear your tires badly, and make your car slower. Check them monthly, whenever the light comes on, or when the weather changes. Whichever comes first.
3. If your car is overheating or showing signs of low coolant or oil, stop and turn the car off IMMEDIATELY!
I've seen far too many examples of people that ignore this and ruin their engines because of excessive temperatures. It seriously only takes a matter of minutes and that $6000 lump of metal under your hood is now a paperweight. Pay attention!
4. If you have a small commute and very rarely drive, take it out on the highway 2-3 times a month.
This will get the engine properly heated up and burn off the moisture that's been accumulating from short distance trips. Moisture in your oil is bad. It congeals and turns into this horrible milky substance. No good.
5. When you inflate your tires, inflate the spare as well. Many people forget this. A spare can only be used if it's aired up."