People purchase a car – either new or pre-owned – with the intention of getting the most use out of it. For the most part, this means that car owners aim to keep their vehicles in the best working condition for as long as possible.
Despite this, many drivers still end up neglecting some measures that are deemed necessary for the longevity of a vehicle. As a result, they encounter mechanical issues that could have been easily avoided if the car had undergone regular maintenance.
This is especially true for owners of vehicles with automatic transmission. Because these vehicles make driving very easy, people tend to forget that these cars require periodic maintenance as well. In fact, these machines may require more tests and checkups since they have a more complex system compared to cars with manual transmission.
If you want to avoid getting stuck in the middle of the road due to car breakdown, here are five best practices to observe to keep your automatic car in great shape (that your trusted auto mechanic would thank you for).
Don’t set your car on neutral mode unnecessarily
Many people think that placing the car in neutral mode in various situations can help them save on fuel and prevent unnecessary wear on the driveline. While there may be some level of logic to that concept, mechanics wouldn’t recommend doing this as it can cause problems down the line.
Most of the time, this is done during a red light. This often leads to the drive shaft getting worn out faster than it normally would.
Some people also do this when sliding down an incline to reduce wear on the brakes. The truth is that stepping on the brakes while on “Drive” mode leads to very minimal loss when you’re driving down the slope. This is because doing so prevents the oil from lubricating the transmission while the car is slowing down, leading to more a more difficult repair later.
Read the user’s manual
After purchasing a new machine, people often neglect to read the user’s manual. This is especially true with automobiles.
Even so, the fact remains that this document is a very useful item that offers specific information about the make and model of your vehicle.
Reading the manual helps you learn about things like:
- What kind of fuel to use in your car
- Conditions that may void your warranty
- How to drive the car without wearing it down quickly
- Proper maintenance tasks to be performed
Care for your tires
The condition of the tires is crucial for both manual and automatic transmission vehicles. To keep the tires in good shape, be sure to monitor proper inflation. Use tire gauges to check whether the tire inflation matches the pressure specified by the manufacturer.
It is also necessary to rotate your tires every once in a while. This practice ensures that all the tires sustain wear evenly. It has also been thought to extend tire lifespan.
In addition, you must make sure that tire replacement is never delayed. To determine whether the tires need to be changed, check for signs of wear between its treads. If you’re unsure about what to look for, ask a tire dealer or licensed mechanic for help.
Monitor and maintain the transmission fluid
For most vehicles, checking the transmission fluid is easy. This is done by pulling out a dipstick, wiping it off, dipping this into the fluid, and then pulling it out again after a while to get an accurate read. Low transmission fluid is an indicator that you might have a leak.
You should also know that transmission fluid that doesn’t need changing and it should be a bright red, sweet-smelling liquid. If you find that it’s dark and smells like rotting fish, it is time to take the car to a mechanic.
While you can perform the checking yourself, the flushing and changing of the transmission fluid should be left to a trained professional. You can check the user’s manual for the required frequency of this maintenance task. However, most vehicles need their transmission fluids flushed out at least once a year.
It is also important to note that not all transmission fluids are created equal. That said, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations stated in the owner’s manual for the type of transmission fluid appropriate for your vehicle. If this doesn’t do the trick, ask a licensed professional about it.
Warm up your engine before driving
The importance of warming up your car engine before driving cannot be overstated, especially during the cold season. Driving the vehicle immediately after starting it is a big blunder.
This is because an idle car – especially one that has been stored during the cold months – tends to have thick oil inside. In this case, the oil moves slower than usual during the warm months, so it may take some time before it can pass through the transmission.
Immediately driving at high speed after being idle for a while may cause severe internal damage to the automobile, so be sure to let it warm up for a couple of minutes before you go.
A Final Word
Automatic transmission vehicles are more expensive than manual cars because they offer ease of driving. However, they require more attention than cars with manual transmission, so make sure that you know what to when it comes to maintaining your specific type of vehicle.