Time and again, we ignore or do certain things to our vehicles that will almost always result in massive repair bills


This week, our resident engineer at Start My Car is away, so we have sourced the article below by Brian Turner from Driving.ca (https://driving.ca/auto-news/news/worst-things-you-can-do-to-your-vehicle).


For all the expense, worry, and inconvenience of automotive maintenance and repairs, you’d think we would know better. But time and again, we ignore or do certain things to our vehicles that will almost always drive repair bills into the stratosphere. And no matter how highly rated or reliable your daily drive is, no matter how “bullet proof” you think it might be, these very simple things will roll any vehicle into an early grave:

1. Curb your enthusiasm

The No. 1 way to incur a hefty bill (especially in the winter) is to slide sideways into a curb or other solid object. This popular manoeuvre, usually caused by overestimating a vehicle’s traction, or triggering oversteer or understeer, will destroy tires and rims, cause wheel hub bearings to get noisy, bend any number of suspension or steering components and generally throw your vehicle’s alignment and your credit card balance out of whack. This is such a common winter occurrence that repair-shop owners actually celebrate the season’s first freezing rain.


2. Don’t go to pot

The second most popular way to send your auto technician into financial bliss is to run full-steam, damn the torpedoes, through a pothole. If it’s deep and wide enough, your vehicle’s suspension won’t have time to react and the leading wheel will hit the front edge of the hole with enough force to duplicate the damage that curb kisses cause (see above).


Figure 1:  Potholes can be a costly nuisance for you and your car. Slow down, keep your eye on surrounding traffic, and avoid potholes altogether if you can. PHOTO BY CARLOS OSORIO /Associated Press


3. Water

Ever wake up in the middle of the night when it’s raining with that nagging feeling that you might not have closed a car window or shut the sunroof completely? When you reach for your raincoat, you might as well grab your wallet, too. Many automakers stuff a lot of expensive and sensitive electronics inside the passenger cabin of their vehicles for safekeeping. After all, if these components need a safe and dry place to live, where better than the sheltered interior?


If you manage to reach your vehicle before the water hits Noah’s mark, or you’ve driven through particularly deep water after a storm, you may be left with soaked carpets that will saturate under-padding and seat upholstery and give birth to mould. Lots of it. To reduce the mould, and the odours from it, vacuum the floor thoroughly with a wet-vac, then place several layers of newspaper on top of the carpet to soak up surface moisture. You may have to repeat this process several times. To dry out the under-padding, remove the plastic sill trim pieces and lift the carpet up and stick a brick or thick piece of wood under it to hold it off the floor (or, better, remove it altogether.) Leave it this way in a dry covered parking area with the windows open to let the outside air dry things out. Again, you may have to repeat this several times. And you may have to replace the carpet and padding altogether.

Figure 2:If your interior gets soaked during a rain storm, the repair will be very time consuming.


4. Stay out of the tow-zone
The Internet is full of videos about idiots trying to pull a buddy’s truck out of the ditch with their sub-compact tuner or trying to move a log or boulder with their sport-ute during a home landscaping project. The reason these videos are so popular is they almost always end up with a bumper or under-carriage component getting ripped off, or a tow cable flying through a back window followed by the uncontrollable laughter of bystanders. Unless the vehicle you’re driving is properly equipped, leave the roadside rescues to pros.



5. Fluids
Fluids such as engine oil, power steering or brake fluid, transmission oil, coolant, or even fuel, are critical to the safe and reliable operation of every vehicle. Fluids can also leak or be consumed from an almost infinite number of seals, gaskets, O-rings, and mechanical devices. If your vehicle has developed a leak of any type, ignoring it, or failing to keep that particular lifeblood topped up will certainly lead to serious expense.


If your vehicle’s engine is leaking or burning oil and falls to a critical level, lubricant-dependant parts such as crankshaft or camshaft bearings, or pistons and valves will quickly burn out. Leave things long enough and you’ll soon be hearing the rat-a-tat swan song of an engine on its last legs — just before it delivers its final gasp and comes to a grinding halt.


Then for the lack of a few minutes of time and a few dollars worth of oil, you’ll be looking at the need for a new, re-manufactured, or pre-owned engine and a bill that can range from $3,000 to $10,000 or more. A power steering fluid leak left unattended until the reservoir runs dry will not only cost you the price of fixing the original leak but replacing the pump as well, not to mention the safety risk in losing steering power assist. About the only thing worse than not enough fluid, is too much. Add too much auto transmission fluid, for example, and the fluid will aerate and foam leading to a host of shifting problems.


Figure 3:Doing maintenance yourself during the summer, like changing your own oil, certainly beats doing it over the winter.


6. Low pressure
Rolling around on under-inflated tires is a sure way to increase your monthly car bills and increase the risk of a blowout to boot. Tire sidewalls are particularly susceptible to damage when the tire pressure isn’t correct (refer to the info label on the driver’s door frame or your owner’s manual for the right specs). When tires lose pressure, as they will over time, their internal temperatures rise if the pressure is low enough. All it takes is one bad bump in the road or a turn to cause a blowout with little or no warning. If your vehicle isn’t equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, check the pressures at least once a month. It will also help improve fuel economy.



7. Let there be light, just not on the dash
Today’s autos come with more warning lights than we care to count or sometimes even pay attention to. But ignoring these little icons can bring something as inconsequential as slightly higher emissions all the way to something more serious as the failure of an air bag or anti-lock braking system (things you’d rather not learn about in the case of a collision or panic stop). If you’re faced with an unfamiliar warning light, check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see what it means. If you want to do a little self-sleuthing, automotive parts stores have a great selection of low-cost DIY scanners that can decipher most engine and transmission diagnostic codes. Some will even help out with anti-lock brake or air bag codes. If the yellow engine light comes on, stop and do exactly what the light is telling you: Check the engine.