Whether on a backroad blast or sunset cruise, there’s not much better than driving a car you love. But the whimsy disappears if warning lights come on, it makes strange noises, or it breaks down and leaves you stranded. Regular maintenance is essential, and best left to professional mechanics. However, your daily driving habits can help your car stay out of the shop and on the road. Here are four super simple – and inexpensive – ways to maintain your whip.
Warm it up
So often you’re in a rush to get out the door. You get in the car, fire it up, and roll right away. But cars are (sort of) like people: they need to warm up before they get moving. After you turn your car on, give it some time to idle before you drive. This allows motor oil to lubricate engine components thoroughly, without which harmful metal-on-metal contact occurs. Wait a minute to let oil circulate. It’s likely your car will run more smoothly, and will definitely help prevent long-term wear.
Pump it up
The air pressure in your car’s tires has a huge effect on how it drives. Underinflated tires wear down faster, decrease fuel efficiency, increase strain on the engine, and are more likely to blow out if you hit road debris. Fortunately, keeping your tires at the right PSI is just about the easiest way to maintain your car.
Every 1,000 miles or so, make sure they’re inflated properly. The PSI rating is usually printed on a sticker under the driver’s door, or in the owner’s manual. Use the air compressor at a gas station, or invest in a portable compressor to keep in the trunk. Elevation and ambient temperature affect tire pressure, so check if you drive up into the mountains, and when seasons change. With correct tire inflation, you’ll notice your car drives better right away.
Keep it light
Lotus’ lightweight sports cars are engineered under a singular philosophy: “Simplify, then add lightness.” What that means is that lighter cars drive better, which you don’t need a sports car to appreciate. Trimming weight helps with maintenance, too. The more stuff inside your car, the heavier it is, which reduces component lifespan and MPG.
That’s not to suggest you rip out the air conditioning and speaker system, but form a habit of removing excess clutter. You don’t need to carry tire chains in the summer. Outdoor gear like a bike rack only helps when you’re headed outdoors. And piles of school or work documents are better off in a filing cabinet. Sure, the difference might be incremental, but over many thousands of miles, keeping your car lightweight helps.
Keep it clean
Would you have guessed that washing your car makes it last longer? There’s a lot of gunk on the road which, over time, degrades your car’s paint and components on the undercarriage. This exposes metal to the elements, which can cause rust that’s difficult or impossible to repair. The key to preventing this is to wash your car. You don’t need a full detail and wax job, but if your car’s exterior looks grimy, give it a wash. Keeping it clean is especially important in wintry climates where salt is used to de-ice roads. That salt causes rust that eats right through the body, and it doesn’t take any explaining why extra holes in your car is bad.
Remember these tips next time you go for a drive. With them in mind, you’ll be able to avoid taking your car to the mechanic, improve your MPG, and help your car drive better overall.