Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Make Your Car Last Longer

Most cars are built to last much longer than most car owners believe.  According to auto experts, the average vehicle’s useful life is ten years (or 300,000 kilometers). By providing proper preventative maintenance, however, a car owner can often double a car's useful life and spend less time taking it to the mechanic for repairs. Here are some tips on how to keep your car in good condition as it ages.

Regular maintenance
Research by the major auto manufacturers shows that the failure to provide routine service and maintenance is the number one reason for major car repair bills. While the owner’s manual will have a maintenance schedule, you can make sure you stick to that schedule by using the same mechanics each time.
Keeping your vehicle covered contributes to its life span. A garaged car last longest, a carport is second best, and a car cover is third. If you’re unable to garage, carport, or cover your car, at least park under trees or other covering to shield it from the sun’s rays.
Take time to regularly inspect your car by spending five minutes walking around and looking at it.  In that time, you can check to see if the tires are wearing unevenly, open the hood and check the hoses, and make sure all the lights are working.

Fluids and filters
Regular oil changes are the most important measure that you can take in order to protect the car’s engine and make it last longer. But other fluids and filters also require regular maintenance. For instance, changing the air filter will enable the car to breathe easier and the engine to last longer. When the air filter is clogged, the engine doesn’t run properly.  It also hurts the car’s fuel efficiency. 

Driving smart
The way that you operate your car impacts how long your car will last. Taking off in burst of speed and coming to a stop suddenly are hard on a car’s engine and brakes. So stop and accelerate gradually. This will save gas in addition to avoiding wear and tear on the brake linings, transmission, and suspension.
Avoid running the car with a tank that is low on gas and with tires that are low on pressure. A gas tank that is only one-quarter full   increases the possibility of dirt, water and moisture getting into the fuel system.  Tires tend to be the most neglected part of a car. When they’re not properly inflated, it’s not only bad for the car, the tires and fuel efficiency, but it’s also a safety problem.
Take care of the exterior of your car by regularly washing and waxing it. Look after the interior as well, keeping it clean by vacuuming the carpet regularly and getting rid of spills before they become difficult to remove.
Follow the above tips and your car will run gracefully into old age.
For information about PRUDENT VALUE CARS, visit our web site:

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Whether to Buy an Extended Car Warranty

Deciding on whether or not to buy an extended auto warranty can be a tough call. The auto manufacturer’s base warranty on a new vehicle is usually good for only the first three years of ownership, which means it will expire right when you’ve put some serious kilometers on the car and it’s more likely to need repairs.
For a new vehicle, the extended warranty must usually be bought within the first year. For a used vehicle, the extended warranty has to be bought when you purchase the vehicle.
It’s better to buy an automaker’s extended warranty, when available, than one sold by a third-party vendor. That’s because the coverage is likely to be more comprehensive, and manufacturers tend to honour claims more readily and with fewer restrictions.
Here are some factors to consider.
Extended warranties are pricey. Few manufacturer-backed plans covering five- or six-year terms cost less than $2,000. For high-end cars or SUVs, you’ll probably have to spend at least $3,000 for a warranty that covers more than just the basic power-train components. Nevertheless, the price of an out-of-pocket repair job on your car could easily exceed that of an extended warranty.
No extended warranty is likely to equal your new vehicle's base warranty for comprehensive coverage. The devil is in the fine print. Interior and exterior trim items are the most predictable exclusions. Also, there are likely to be deductibles that range from $50 to $250 per repair visit (though zero-deductible options are available at higher cost).
You also have to take into account that most extended warranty plans have limits. Most plans are based on an outmoded 20,000 kilometers per year. So a five-year plan would carry a 100,000 kilometer limit, which many drivers would reach in less than four years.
Then, too, the clock starts ticking on a five-year plan the moment you drive your new car off the dealer’s lot. So, in reality, a five-year plan expires two years after the base warranty ends.
If you can't get by without a vehicle while yours is under repair, the extended warranty plans are helpful because they usually provide rental car allowances for warranty repairs.
If your car has features such as air conditioning and power windows that are likely to need repair after five or six years, an extended warranty that covers them makes sense. And if you intend to keep your new car well beyond the basic warranty’s expiry date, then buying an extended plan may be a wise move. It all comes down to your risk tolerance and how good a deal you can find.
If a reputable vendor offers adequate coverage at a reasonable price, then an extended warranty can be good insurance against unanticipated big repair bills. The cost is fixed, which means you can factor it into the car purchase price upfront. And if you decide later to sell the vehicle, an extended warranty that’s transferable to the new owner will add to the car’s resale value.◄
For information about PRUDENT VALUE CARS, visit our web site:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Taking Care of the Brakes

The braking system is your car’s most important safety feature. Just as brakes aren't optional equipment, neither should their proper maintenance be optional. The brakes on your car should be checked at least every 20,000 km, or once a year, or whenever there's a change in how they feel or the noise that they make.

How brakes work
Brakes are basically a mechanism to change energy types. When your car is in motion, it has kinetic energy. When you apply the brakes, the pads or shoes that press against the brake drum or rotor convert that energy into thermal energy through friction. The cooling of the brakes dissipates the heat and the car slows down.

Signs of trouble
Here are some of the symptoms that something is wrong with your vehicle’s brakes:
● The brake pedal feels too soft or you need to pump your brakes for them to work;
● A hard brake pedal;
● A brake warning light that stays on;
● Squealing or grinding noises;
● Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply the brakes;
● The car pulls to one side when you apply the brakes, or a tire is very hot after even a short drive, or you see leakage near a tire.

Brake pads
There are essentially two types of brakes: disc and drum. Disc brakes have a rotor that's attached to the axle. Calipers straddle the rotor. Drum brakes are more common on back wheels. Several parts of the braking system require servicing. The brake pads or shoes wear out with use, and become too thin to function effectively.
If the brake pads wear out completely, that can damage the rotors. The calipers can grind grooves in the rotor. Then the rotor must either be resurfaced or replaced. This is an expensive proposition, but delaying is risky, because the car won't stop as quickly. Sometimes rotors warp or crack and have to be replaced.
Brake pads have different grades - regular, metallic and ceramic. Higher grades are pricier, but provide better braking performance and smoother operation. Also, the premium grade of pads and shoes lasts more kilometers than the cheaper grades. It’s acceptable to upgrade the brake pads. But don’t ever use a grade that's lower than the one that the manufacturer recommends.

Brake fluid
Brake fluid should be topped up monthly. When you apply the brakes, the pressure in the fluid activates the brake pads or shoes. If there’s insufficient fluid, there won’t be enough pressure to brake properly.
Also, water builds up in the brake fluid over time. This will result in corrosion, leaks and brake damage. With hard use, the brakes could severely fade or even fail. The brake fluid should be changed on the schedule recommended by the manufacturer.
It’s critical to look after your car’s brakes, and much less costly than a trip to the auto repair shop after an accident. ◄
For information about PRUDENT VALUE CARS, visit our web site: