Although we never suspect it would happen to us, vehicle breakdowns do happen and can really put you in a bind if you’re not prepared. It’s recommended to, at a minimum, keep jumper cables, a quart of motor oil and a small tool kit. It’s also a good idea to keep triangle reflectors or flares in the instance you are stranded in the dark. You never know when something is going to happen to your car, so it’s best to be prepared.
Coolant, also known as antifreeze, is tremendously important to your car, as it keeps the engine from freezing in cold temperatures. Before you head into winter, make sure your car isn’t low on coolant and that there aren’t any leaks in your vehicle’s engine that could cause coolant to drain out. Many mechanics recommend drivers use a 50/50-mix of coolant and water in their radiators, which usually results in a lower engine freezing point than just coolant.
Is your car battery always dying? While many assume its cold weather that kills batteries, they are actually more adversely affected by heat. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery. That’s why it’s a good idea to check your battery as the seasons change from hotter to cooler or if you’ve been driving in a hot part of the country.
To get the most life out of a battery, be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging. Also, keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.
Monitor your brake pad thickness and don’t let the pads wear down to metal. This will cause damage to your brake rotors (“discs”) at least and possibly your calipers as well. Rotors and calipers are much more expensive to replace than pads. There is no such thing as “cleaning” a brake pad while it is still on a car – the friction between the pad and rotor will eradicate any outside substance almost immediately.