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Purchasing a new car is a major financial investment. Keeping it clean is an easy and inexpensive way to protect its resale and trade-in value.
Many motorists procrastinate when it comes to cleaning their vehicles. Whether you do it yourself or have it cleaned professionally, proactively keeping your car clean on the outside, and tidy on the inside, will pay big dividends when it comes to maintaining your vehicle’s value over time.
Here are five simple steps to keep a vehicle clean, helping protect it from the elements and preserve its value.
You need clean air to breathe and so does your car, and a vehicle’s air filters make that possible. The non-profit Car Care Council reminds car owners to have the engine and cabin air filters inspected and changed regularly to ensure vehicle longevity and interior comfort.
“Air filters are your vehicle’s first line of defense against contaminants that reduce cabin air quality and negatively impact engine performance,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Community car care events held throughout the country reveal that nearly one out of five vehicles is in need of air filter replacement, so it’s evident that motorists often overlook this simple, yet important service.”
The vehicle’s engine air filter traps dirt particles that can cause damage to engine cylinders, cylinder walls, pistons, piston rings and bearings, leading to the engine losing power. The air filter also plays a critical role in keeping pollutants from contaminating the airflow sensor on fuel-injected cars. A normal wear item that requires regular checks and replacement, air filters should be inspected at each oil change and replaced annually or when showing other signs of contamination.
The cabin air filter is responsible for cleaning the air entering the passenger compartment. Under normal circumstances, it helps trap pollen, bacteria, dust and exhaust gases that may find their way into a vehicle’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, compromising interior air quality and damaging the system. Most cabin air filters are accessed through the panel in the HVAC housing, which may be under the hood or placed within the interior of the vehicle. A cabin air filter should not be cleaned and reinstalled. Instead, it should be replaced every 12,000 to 15,000 miles or per the owner’s manual.
The tires are the only thing between the vehicle and the road. When they are properly inflated and in good condition, the handling, stability and safety of the vehicle will be maximized. Conversely, when the tires are under inflated, worn out or damaged, all of the safety systems on the vehicle cannot overcome the loss of control that comes with a blow-out or hydroplaning situation. Air pressure in a tire is like oil in an engine; when it is low, the resulting internal damage is unseen until it is too late. Tires naturally lose 1-2 psi per month, so ongoing neglect will eventually result in a tire that cannot support the weight of the vehicle and the occupants. When this happens, the resulting blow-out can result in the loss of control and an accident.
It’s also important to rotate the tires on the vehicle every 5-7,000 miles. Today’s front-wheel-drive vehicles cause the steer tires to wear at a much faster rate than the tires on the rear axle. By periodically rotating the front tires to the back and the back tires to the front, motorists can achieve even treadwear on all four tires and increase the mileage and performance. Failing to rotate the tires often results in the front tires wearing out faster while the rear tires develop irregular treadwear patterns that cause vibrations. The same can be said for alignments. When the vehicle is not properly aligned, the tires will wear out faster which leads to increased operating costs.
Finally, drivers should perform a visual inspection of their tires on a regular basis, especially after hitting a pothole, curb or any type of road debris. Bulges, cuts and other visible damage weaken the internal components of the tire, which can lead to a blow-out. Regular visual inspections will often identify any potential problems before they result in an accident. It’s also a good idea to have the tires inspected by a professional before any long road trips to ensure there are no obvious out-of-service conditions that must be addressed.
Some roadways are designated as low-speed zones. These include areas with high pedestrian traffic, such as school zones and streets lots of intersections close together. Driving over the speed limit can put you and others at risk of harm.
If you notice that a police car is following you with the lights flashing, pull over to the side of the road safely and quickly. Wait inside your car for the officer to approach, and be prepared to:
There’s no denying it, your vehicle’s brakes can be a very dirty place. Between brake dust, petroleum-based brake fluid, grease, grime and road debris, it’s never long before your brakes are in need of a good cleaning. Keeping your brakes clean not only helps them last a lot longer but it can also significantly improve their ability to stop your vehicle.
It’s as easy as choosing the right product. Here’s a look at the benefits of brake cleaner.
With all the services we perform on our vehicles, cleaning the brakes is one of the easiest yet most overlooked. By simply spraying cleaner in the side of the caliper, you can safely and easily remove dust, grease and debris that could potentially impede your vehicle’s braking ability. There are no two ways about it, clean brakes function better and can stop your vehicle in a shorter distance. Brake cleaner is made up of chemical compounds that evaporate as they dry, leaving no residue behind and dissolving grease for perfectly clean brakes. Because of this property however, it’s also great for removing grease and oil from other automotive parts too. Whether you need to remove the grime from the valve cover before you pour fresh oil in or clean a bearing before you re-grease it, cleaner will remove everything. Just be careful around rubber gaskets, seals and the exterior finish of the body — cleaner can dry out or damage these parts. It’s also safe for metal, ceramic and glass so it can be used to clean and treat other things in your life like machine parts and windows. With ever increasing environmental protection requirements, many makers of brake cleaner are moving over to non-chlorinated blends. What’s the difference? All cleaners are made of toxic chemicals but chlorinated cleaners use perchloroethylene, methylene chloride and trichloroethylene, which are considered Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC). They’re worse for the environment and have very strong fumes. Non-chlorinated cleaners replace these chemicals with other less toxic, low-VOC chemicals, which are better for you and the earth.
Brake cleaner is one of the most useful automotive products you can get your hands on. With cleaning properties that leave no residue, they can remove grease, oil and dirt from your brakes and help them perform at the top of their game. As more states ban the use of VOC chemicals, non-chlorinated cleaners are becoming more prevalent and are sure to do a great job.