REGULAR CAR CARE
Tool and Material Checklist:
Keeping your car forever is not an unrealistic goal. If you care at all about getting the most for your money, you will want to implement a preventive maintenance program for your car. The program in this booklet will encompass the mechanical operation and the appearance of the vehicle.
A used car is seldom in perfect condition. And even a new car that has passed a quality-control inspection at the factory can be damaged during shipping. Therefore, you should give any car a complete inspection before agreeing to buy it. (A new car inspection should include a check for the options ordered.) List any repairs that must be made and make an agreement with the sales representative as to when and how they will be made. The agreement should always be put in writing.
Check for the following during the inspection:
Have the sales representative demonstrate the operation of the car's devices and be sure to check all the fluid levels again at the first gas stop.
KEEPING THE ENGINE CLEAN
A clean engine offers several benefits:
One of the first steps you should take after buying a used car is to clean the engine, its compartment, the drivetrain, and the chassis. Use a water-soluble degreaser and running water; lacquer thinner on a soft rag will remove stubborn stains. Remove rust from the exhaust manifold using a small wire brush. Once all is clean: check for leaks, oil stains, rust, and other signs of neglect. Make any necessary repairs before proceeding.
Different surfaces are protected differently.
Corrosion prevention is not a once-and-done operation-it is a continuing process of maintenance that should begin when the car is purchased. Within 3 months, the under chassis, engine compartment, and the insides of the doors and fenders should be sprayed with an anticorrosion material. This can be done by your dealer, a specialty shop, or by you with a rust proofing kit. For older cars, anticorrosive are effective for retarding any further corrosion.
Paint provides a protective barrier between the atmosphere and the steel surface that keeps moisture and impurities in the air from interacting with the finish. Paint film failure is simply a breakdown in corrosion protection. Following are some things you can do to keep your car's finish in good condition:
Applying Silicone Compound Sealant
This will prevent the air from oxidizing the paint. The surface must first be prepared as follows:
1. Repair any nicks or scratches.
2. Remove all dirt, wax, and silicone from the area to be repaired.
3. Using a small #1 or #2 artist's brush, build up the paint in layers.
4. If you have an older car, remove dead paint with a polish. Do not use a rubbing compound-it can remove all the paint.
Cover all of the exterior paint and chrome with the sealant. A conditioning coat should be applied every 6 months.
Washing and Waxing
Wash the car with mild soap and warm water at least once a month. Do a thorough job, including the inside doorjambs, wheels, etc., as follows:
1. Rinse the surface completely.
2. Dry the surface with a chamois.
3. Remove road tar and other stains with an appropriate solvent. Use degreaser on wire wheels and custom alloy wheels.
4. Repair any nicks or scratches and finish them with a seal and conditioner.
5. Clean all windows with an ammonia glass cleaner and newspaper. Newspaper works much better than paper towels because it is lint-free.
A car should be waxed every 3 months. If a silicone conditioner is used instead, the job should be done every 6 months. For the wheels, use a heavy-duty wheel wax or two coats of silicone spray. Tires and rubber bumpers should also be sprayed with silicone, but be careful not to get any spray on disc brake pads or discs. Vinyl roofs should be cleaned, conditioned, and treated with silicone.
KEEPING THE INTERIOR CLEAN
Always start at the top and work down. Following are some additional interior cleaning tips:
THE MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE
Check your owner's manual or an independently published shop manual, or ask the service manager at your dealer for information about a maintenance schedule. The one presented below is a 10year maintenance plan for a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive car.
If you haven't been using the air conditioning, run it at full power for at least 5 minutes.
Semiannual (or every 7,500 miles)
Put a coat of conditioner or wax on the exterior of the vehicle and respray everything with silicone.
Annually (or every 15,000 miles)
Every 2 Years (or every 30,000 miles)
Every 3 Years (or every 40,000 miles)
Every 4 Years (or every 50,000 miles)
Every 5 Years (or every 60,000 miles)
Every 7 Years (or every 70,000 miles)
Every 8 Years (or every 80,000 miles)
Every 9 Years (or every 90,000 miles)
• Replace (or rebuild) Carburetor (complete with choke) • Replace (or rebuild) Starter and solenoid • Replace (or rebuild) Alternator • Replace (or rebuild) Voltage regulator • Replace (or rebuild) Power brake booster • Replace (or rebuild) Power steering pump
Every 10 Years (or every 100,000 miles)
You've reached your goal. Even if the engine requires a complete overhaul at this point, you should still have a car that looks and runs as good as new. It might even serve you for another 100,000 miles or more.
Always buy top-quality replacement parts. Although they cost more initially, in the long run they are more economical than their less expensive equivalents because they last longer and are more dependable. Also, make system repairs instead of unit repairs. For example, when you buy a new battery, get new cables as well.
Keeping a Log
For a log, use a small notebook that fits in the glove compartment. Divide it into two sections: one for gas mileage, the other for maintenance/replacement. Keeping track of the mileage aids in troubleshooting and helps achieve optimal mileage. When you stop for gas, record the date, current odometer reading, amount of gas required to till the tank, and miles per gallon obtained.
To compute the gas mileage, subtract the current odometer reading from the previous one recorded. This shows the number of miles driven since the last time you stopped for gas. Divide this number by the amount of gas required to fill the tank for the mileage per gallon.
In the other half of the notebook, keep track of any maintenance performed and parts replaced. For each notation include the date, mileage, and a short description of the service done. This will help you n troubleshooting any problems.
If you decide to store your car for the winter (or any period of time longer than a month), put it on jack stands to keep the tires and suspension off the ground. Run it once a month for about 1/2 hour. Be careful when you remove the car from storage-the brakes might stick from lack of use.