Written by Alice Stevens | Last Updated October 30th, 2019Alice Stevens has managed the health and life insurance content for Best Company since 2018. She’s passionate about conducting good research and understanding the details you need to know about insurance. When she's not writing and researching, she enjoys good food and travel.
Car trouble is never fun. There are steps you can take to reduce the amount of car trouble you have and be prepared for if you do.
Read what three car experts have to say about avoiding car trouble and how to be prepared if you experience it:
Perform regular maintenance
Keeping your car well-maintained will help it run better and last longer. Regular inspections and oil changes go a long way in preventing future issues.
“You do want a complete inspection at every oil change. Cars are made up of many moving parts that do wear out over time.
It is the repair shop's job to check over your car at every oil change. Customers don't want the upsell, but you can save a lot of money repairing an issue before it causes more damage to your engine,” says Debbie Wright, Auto Repair Shop Owner and Car Blogger.
While a regular oil change with a full inspection is more expensive than just an oil change, it can be worth it in the long-run.
"Quick-lube places may save you a few dollars, but they don't look over your car for potential issues.
Find a repair shop that you can trust, because the best thing you can do for your car is to get routine oil services. You want the shop to look over your car; it is their responsibility to keep you prepared on the status of your car for safety on the road,” recommendes Wright.
You should also pay attention to your tires. Don’t drive too long on your tires if the gauge is telling you they're lower than they should be.
“Tires low on air don’t roll as easily and require more engine power (and more fuel) to make them rotate. However, checking and appropriately adjusting your car’s tire pressure is cheap and easy. Get into the habit of checking before any road adventure to identify any possible issues and help your car run more smoothly. Stick to the suggested pressures for each tire, which are typically printed on a sticker inside the driver’s door jamb,” says Richard Reina, Product Training Director, CARiD.com.
If your car doesn’t have a sensor that tells you the tire pressure, you can check it manually. Use a tire pressure reader to see how full your tires are. You can also walk around your car to do a visual check — do any of your tires seem flat?
It’s a good idea to check your tires regularly, especially as the temperature changes. Temperature changes affect the volume of the air in your tire, so you may need to add more or let air out depending on the weather. Altitude also affects your tire pressure, so it’s also a good idea to check when you’re changing altitudes.
Keep an eye on your car battery. It’s easy to lose track of how old your battery is because car batteries usually last several years, but keeping your battery’s age in mind can make sure you’re prepared just in case you need a jump start.
“To prevent a dead battery breakdown which leads to an expensive tow or jump, keep track of when you installed a new battery. As a preventative measure, you should swap it out every three to four years. If you can’t remember how long it’s been, go in for a test or even get a new one to avoid issues,” suggests Reina.
Inspect your car beforehand
If you’re planning a long drive or a road trip, look at your car to make sure that it’ll make the drive.
“Always, always check your fluids, engine, and tires before a road trip. It's the easiest way to mitigate any potential car trouble down the road (no pun intended). You'll want to check on your oil levels, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid. Also take a quick look around your tires to see if there are any issues with their inflation levels.
Lastly, check for leaks underneath your vehicle. If it's been sitting inside your garage or on your driveway for some time, pull away and look for any oil-like substances on the ground. Please keep in mind that if you're in a hot climate, your AC will drip onto the driveway a bit, so if it's water you see, you shouldn't be alarmed,” advises Jake Lane, NuBrakes Mobile Brake Repair Director of Growth.
Topping off your fluids and taking some extra with you as necessary can help keep your car functioning well on the road.
You can also take preventive measures to reduce the risk of damage while you’re on the road.
“If you’re headed on a long journey with passengers, it’s best to start with a clean car. Now, I’m not just referring to the windshield, floor mats, and seat crevices. These areas are important to keep tidy, but you should also make sure your undercarriage and wheels receive a thorough washing to avoid corrosion and other damage. While you can easily take care of this in your own driveway, I’d recommend visiting the car wash where professionals are also trained to spot potential cracks and dents that dirt and grime may have been hiding,” suggests Reina.
Even with the best preparations, you may experience car trouble on the road. So, you should make sure that you’re ready to handle anything that might come up.
Wright suggests having the following ready:
- phone charger
- comfortable shoes
- phone number of a tow company
- name and address of the repair shop
If you’re taking a long road trip, Reina also suggests including
- Flares and/or road cones, which can come in handy during a breakdown
- A portable tire pump for re-inflating along the way
- Ice scraper, folding shovel, and battery blanket (weather-depending, of course)
Keeping your car well-maintained with regular oil changes and inspections can help you prevent car trouble. You should also keep an eye on your tires and battery to make sure you don’t run into other problems.
Preparations for road trips can also help you be safe on the road and reach your destination. It’s always a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car, even when you’re driving locally.