August 22, 2012
It’s the dog days of summer; you’re hot and sluggish and would prefer to be at the beach. If you’re lucky enough to be in Southern California, a drive to Malibu sounds so good. But if your car isn’t performing up to par, taking some basic maintenance steps now may improve your car’s performance and get you to the beach.
Grab a good tire gauge and check the tire pressure before driving the car. Make sure it meets the manufacturer’s standards. If not, take along some quarters and head to a nearby gas station with an air pump. Air used to be free, but today most gas stations want you to pump a few quarters into a machine before pumping air into your tires.
While you’re at it, check the tire treads, look for wear bars and do the “penny test.” Honest, people still do it. But like everything else, inflation has reared its ugly face here, too. Now some say it takes a quarter to get the job done right. A quarter you haven’t yet put in the air machine will come in handy. Either coin will work. Put the coin in head first; if you can see all of the head, it’s time for new tires. With the quarter you better think seriously about new tires, with the penny, the tire store should be your next stop.
Remove anything heavy you have in the trunk.
Now is a good time to wash the car inside and out, and wax it. Ah, but don’t think with properly inflated tires, excess weight removed, and dirt gone that your work is done. It’s not. There is more to do improve your car’s performance.
Check the air filter. A clean air filter keeps air flowing to the engine. If the filter is dirty, toss it and replace it with a new one.
Check the oil. Is it full and clean? Does it need to be changed? If you change your own oil, dispose of the used oil according to the regulations in your community.
Are the spark plugs and wires clean? Or should they be changed?
Be sure all fluids, such as coolant, washer fluid, etc. are filled.
Check the battery. Check the owner’s manual to ensure the necessary maintenance is done on time.
Taking care of these basic maintenance tasks may improve your car’s performance. Any parts needed to get the job done can be found at a variety of places, including a local auto supply store, or on line at sites such as ecklerschevelle.com.
Remember, performance isn’t just about speed, it’s also about controlling speed. Be sure your brakes are in good working order and you exercise good driving habits, such as avoiding burnouts and frequent fast starts and stops. In other words, don’t show off. In the end, you may improve your car’s performance, save yourself a few pennies and quarters, and perhaps several paper Lincolns too. And make that trip to Malibu, or another nearby beach.
Anne Engardio is a freelance writer who grew up in metro Detroit. One of her first memories is watching cars go by the house with her brothers. Although not a gearhead, she grew up to be somewhat of a car enthusiast, appreciating the beauty, style, design and power of the automobile. She now resides in Vista, California with her husband Tom.