These five simple tips will keep you running for miles.

A car is an indispensable part of life for many. There are over 260 million registered vehicles in America, and every one of them needs diligent care to keep their owners safe and premiums low. The secret to maintaining top speed is slowing down enough to understand your car’s needs.

Our earlier blog provided a guide to auto insurance: the first thing you need to stay on the road. Once there you must contend with a world of potential car trouble. You would be forgiven for thinking older vehicles have more to worry about. In fact, it’s the newer, tech-heavy models facing record breakdown figures.

Battery failures, tire problems and key issues are some of the most frequent obstacles in running a vehicle. The American Automobile Association states that unexpected vehicle repair costs get the better of 64 million people a year, with poor auto maintenance being the main factor. If you follow our tips, you’ll have a long (and less expensive) road ahead.

Stay tire smart

A car won’t get far without its tires, and that’s why they’re at the top of the list. They can lose up to two pounds of air pressure a month, and with every loss of pressure, you’re losing traction and control on the road. A tire expands or contracts based on the surrounding temperature which affects the inner pressure.

It’s for this reason that tire tests are best performed when the tire is cold. The bi-weekly use of a tire pressure gauge and a visual appraisal of the outer surface will keep them in good shape. You can find the proper tire pressure for your vehicle in the owner’s manual.

Other issues include misalignment, the need for rotation and wearing out of the treads (less than 1/16th of an inch means serious risk). This consumer education resource offers further details on how to keep your wheels fit for the long haul.

Check your oil, fluids, and emissions

Your owner’s manual can also be used for guidelines on checking the fluids, oil, and emissions. Newer models may not have the traditional dipstick with which to check your oil; instead, they monitor your oil electronically.

Model type and manufacturer will influence which type of oils and fluids are best for your car. Not paying attention to this detail could see your warranty voided, so do so according to their specifications around every 7,500 miles.

Dipsticks are indicators marked to show your oil’s current level. Healthy oil will look brown or black. Debris in your oil could be particles of metal (an indication of possible engine damage) while lighter coloring may indicate a coolant leak.

Your emissions system is vital to running a clean car. The Environmental Protection Agency requires that your emissions be handled responsibly. Failing an emissions test means you won’t get back on the road until the matter is repaired. Every model of the vehicle must undergo a gas cap test, while onboard diagnostics checks and systems tests will depend on the model.

Maintain your brakes

Overheating is a real problem for brakes and results in a decrease in the function known as fading. Signs of fading include an increase in stopping distance, the need to depress the brake pedal farther than usual, grinding noises, or in the worst cases, smoke or fire.

Checking your brake pads, brake fluid, rotors, shoes, drums, and brake lines with a professional mechanic once a year is a minimum recommendation, but drivers should consult the owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations.

Keep your lights bright

The many lights on your car keep you safe from road hazards and help other drivers know your next move. Your turn signals, tail lights, brake lights, and headlights can save lives along with hundreds of dollars in damages, so change them when needed.

Test the function of all of these while your car is parked to check for any weakened or burned out bulbs and fuses. The exterior of the lights is equally important. Make sure you maintain the plastic they’re encased in by keeping them free from dust, mud, and other factors that may hamper their glow.

Test the alignment of your headlights by shining them against the same surface. You can test for height: too high or too low may create a blind spot for other drivers. An industry rule is to replace your headlights in pairs, or you’ll forever be running one that’s brighter than the other.

Treat your car like you care

The day to day motions of your car are opportunities to treat it carefully. Decelerate gradually and avoid sudden stops, prolonged speeding, or sudden acceleration. Shift gears gently, merge carefully into traffic and avoid any distractions that could hinder driving, such as cell phones. Adjusting your mirrors to cover blind spots will reduce your chances of collision.

If your vehicle needs some attention, then this further resource from the American Automobile Association could help you estimate costs. For personalized advice on every aspect of your car insurance, Avante Insurance is here to help.

Avante Insurance is a South Florida family owned and operated agency providing an array of insurance services to meet the individual needs of our customers. If you need any information, call us at 305-648-7070, or contact us for a free auto insurance quote.