By Kara Bishop
VehicleMD Staff Writer
Originally published in Summer 2012 Issue
Have you ever run a marathon (26 miles)? Running requires energy and hydration; therefore, athletes running marathons must supplement their bodies with food and water during the race. Only the most dedicated can make it to the finish line, and I can’t help but be impressed with these runners.
However, did you know that your vehicle runs marathons on a daily basis? We drive 13 and 26 miles without even thinking about it. Your car needs loving care as it “runs,” sometimes all day long, and just as runners have special body requirements when racing, so does your car.
Your car works hard already; don’t make it work even harder by neglecting routine maintenance like oil changes. Check your owners manual to determine what maintenance needs to be performed on your vehicle and when. Or you could ask your local automotive maintenance professional.
Things like the transmission fluid, coolant, radiator and belts and hoses need to be checked and maintained according to your owners manual.
Like a runner’s feet, your tires are the only contact between your car and the road. Neglecting your tires can decrease fuel mileage as well as jeopardize your safety as a driver.
Most experts recommend having your tires rotated every other oil change (6,000 to 10,000 miles), even if they don’t show signs of wear. Tire rotations even out wear and lengthens the life of your tires – saving you money and keeping your vehicle on the road.
Tread depth is essential to maintaining control of the vehicle. Just as a runner needs good quality running shoes, your vehicle needs good quality tires with deep tread depth.
To maintain correct tire pressure and preserve the life of your tires, consider inflating your tires with nitrogen. Using pure nitrogen tends to keep tires inflated better and longer, as nitrogen molecules, which are larger than oxygen molecules, don’t slip through the rubber in tires as easily.
Losing your breath while running can give you a side stitch and sucking dirt into your lungs can force you to stop. Your car can get a side stitch, too, if its engine filter gets clogged and dirty.
For every gallon of gas your car uses, it also needs about 9,000 gallons of air. Today’s engine air filters typically trap up to 98 percent of particulate matter down to 20 microns in size.
Just like the air filter in your home, the air filter in your car can eventually become clogged by all the dust it traps, cutting down the flow of air to your engine and robbing it of critical horsepower, thereby decreasing efficiency and fuel economy. It is recommended that the air filter be replaced annually or when clogged, whichever occurs sooner.
Treats for Before and After Your Car “Runs”
If you’re planning on travelling, “hydrate” your car beforehand by topping-off your gas tank – you may even want to try a higher grade fuel. Driving your car on empty may cause engine failure.
Providing your vehicle with a fuel system treatment regularly every 60,000 miles will enable your car to maintain a higher fuel economy, which is a treat for both you and your car.
Checking all fluids and having them flushed when necessary rewards your car for all its hard work. Check with your owners manual and consult your technician on when these fluids should be flushed.
We know that running is hard, so remember that your car has to “run” on a daily basis and provide it with what it needs to “run” a successful race.
By Kara Bishop