Weekly auto column, with tips on keeping your car in good shape, Car Q&A with Junior Damato and more.
Tip of the Week
Hanging on to a car - and taking care of it - can definitely save you money versus taking on a new-car payment. The key to maximizing your savings on an old car is actually to spend a little on regular maintenance. That will allow you to avoid more costly, emergency repairs caused by the breakdown of poorly maintained parts. Follow these simple steps to ensure good maintenance helps you avoid expensive repairs:
1. Get to know the owner's manual. Your owner's manual will provide vital information on your vehicle's systems, and should include a maintenance schedule.
2. Take care of the timing belt. Most cars newer than 20 years old have timing belts that need to be changed, sometimes as often as every 60,000 miles. When the timing belt breaks it may either simply leave the car immobile or, worse, if the car has what the RockAuto.com auto parts catalog calls an "interference engine," then a broken timing belt will likely cause expensive damage to other engine parts.
3. Check your fluids. Make sure you know the manufacturer's recommendations for what type of oil, antifreeze, transmission, power steering and brake fluid your vehicle uses. Using outdated or the wrong fluid can cause damage.
4. Pay attention to shock absorbers and struts. These parts protect the suspension, steering, brakes and other vehicle systems. Waiting until the car starts to ride funny or bounce before replacing the shocks and struts may cause costly damage to other parts.
5. Stay on schedule. The maintenance schedule in your owner's or shop manual will also list important inspections to perform periodically, and repairs or maintenance you can expect the vehicle will need throughout its serviceable life. It will often be cheaper to replace auto parts before they break than after. Use the chart in your manual to keep track of completed maintenance.
According to www.edmunds.com, here were the best-selling vehicles of 2009:
1. Toyota Camry
2. Honda Accord
3. Ford F-150
4. Toyota Corolla
5. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
6. Honda Civic
7. Nissan Altima
8. Honda CR-V
9. Chevrolet Impala
10. Ford Fusion
Did You Know
Auto-industry lobbyists spent $1.45 million in the second quarter of 2010. That’s down from 2009’s amount - $1.86 million.
Q: Would using a lower-octane gasoline invite carbon build up?
A: Lower-octane gasolines have different additives than the higher-octane gasolines. The higher the octane, the hotter it burns and the higher the internal temperature. The higher the temperature the less carbon will build up. This does not mean for all my readers to run out and fill up with premium gas, only the vehicles that it is recommended for. To help remove carbon deposits and buildup, try to accelerate from a stop to the legal speed as quickly as possible under safe driving conditions, like the on ramp getting onto the freeway.
- Junior Damato, Talking Cars columnist
GateHouse News Service