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Vehicle Neglect

Have you ever had a toothache that you ignored – hoping it was only temporary and would go away?  Many times, we learn “the hard way” that it’s better to proactively address problems sooner versus letting them grow into bigger, costlier problems.  This same principle applies to our vehicles and the neglect for ongoing maintenance or repairs.  If you neglect key components of your vehicle’s health, they can often lead to bigger, costlier, and even dangerous outcomes.

In this month’s blog, we look at four items you should never neglect in your vehicle.  In many cases, neglect of these critical items only compounds complications within your vehicle, and ultimately you pay a higher price for repairs.

Item 1:  Oil Changes

It goes without saying that oil is perhaps one of the most significant fluids that maintains your engine’s health.  Motor oil is what keeps the parts lubricated, provides barriers for heat, and of course, collects the dirt and sediment that builds up in your engine.  Oil plays a big part in keeping your engine clean.

If you neglect the oil, and allow it to remain dirty, it will lead to engine failure at some point.  There’s no comparison between the cost of periodic oil changes and a total engine overhaul.  Discuss the best cadence for oil changes with your service professional and keep it honest.  It’s easy to fall behind but an oil change takes less than a half hour and can keep your vehicle out of the repair shop for a host of problems.

Item 2:  Tires

Your vehicle’s tires are in constant contact with the road, and they are subjected to the wear and tear of motion, friction, heat, and of course, road hazards.  It is normal for tires to wear down over time, but that wear should be even and progress slowly.  Your tire’s health is determined by the tread wear and whether you keep them under or over-inflated.  A simple test of these two involves a tire gauge to read the pressure, and a penny.  If you insert a penny upside down in your tread, and you cannot see Abraham Lincoln’s head, then your tread depth is good.  Otherwise, you may be reaching a point where you need to replace your tire.  You should also be mindful of how the sidewalls look – there are times where we can damage them if we scrape a curb, or something punctures the side of the tire.

Tire neglect is a safety issue and can lead to serious blowouts, or possibly cause an accident.  Don’t let this item go ignored and keep a good eye on your tires frequently.

Item 3:  Fluid Levels

While it is important to keep your oil clean through periodic changes, it is also advisable to periodically check the oil level.  Some oil in your engine may naturally burn off while driving, and other times low oil levels can be a sign of a possible leak within the engine.  Regardless, your engine needs a specific amount of oil to function properly.  If you neglect the level, you are putting a strain on your engine and the protection oil is designed to offer is quickly diminished.  Again, this can lead to engine failure, and will in fact if the oil is dried up.  While checking oil levels, don’t forget to check other system fluids like the coolant, transmission, and brake fluids.

Item 4:  Noises, Smells, Smoke, and Motions

It’s common for us to be a bit tuned out when driving because like brushing your teeth, it becomes a habit that is second nature.  So, we may ignore signals that our vehicle is sending us through strange noises, smells, or even motions that are not normal.

We are probably more inclined to neglect these signals because they may not present an immediate response or problem to us.  However, when your vehicle is functioning properly, there is no reason you should hear, smell, or feel anything out of the ordinary.

If you notice sounds when accelerating or decelerating, or turning, those could be a clear signal that something is wrong.  Smells are more obvious, especially if they are electrical or in the case of an exhaust issue, it might smell like rotten eggs.

Smoke is usually a sign that some type of fluid has leaked and is reacting to the hot engine surface.  Again, smoke is not something you would expect to see in a highly functioning engine.  And finally, motion can also indicate problem areas for us.  If you feel the vehicle shudder on turns or higher speeds, or the steering wheel shakes, these could be signs of suspension problems.

It’s never good to neglect our health, and it’s also never good to neglect the health of your vehicle.  If you have concerns about something, give the service professionals at Shade Tree Garage a call to schedule an appointment.  Not only can we inspect for any unusual occurrences, we can work with you to build an ongoing maintenance plan to keep your vehicle running for years.

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