Proper car maintenance I’d essential if you want the intricate parts of your automobile to serve you and remain in good shape for as long as possible. Here are five things you should never do to your car.
Never Use Dishwashing Detergent to Wash Your Car
Dishwashing detergent is designed to aggressively attack and break down dried on food, oil and grease which is not so great for car paint. Car paint, clear coat and car wax contain oils and resins that maintain the paint’s integrity and filter out harmful UV rays.
When you wash your car with dishwashing detergent, you actually strip off the wax and pull some of those critical oils out of the paint and paint sealants, leaving it bare and exposed to the elements. If you immediately wax your car with a high-quality wax, you can restore some of the UV protection. If you don’t wax your car after washing with dishwashing detergent, you lose important sun protection.
If you regularly wash your car with dishwashing detergent, you’ll degrade the paint and clear coat enough over its life to cause premature fading and even early paint failure.
Car wash soap, on the other hand, is designed to remove dirt and grease without removing the surface wax and oils from the paint.
Never Neglect the Dipstick
The oil change intervals listed in your owner’s manual are based on the manufacturers assumption that you’ll not only use the recommended oil, but that you’ll also check the oil on a regular basis and top it off when it’s low.
All engines use some oil between oil changes; even some new engines can burn as much as a quart every 1,500 to 3,000 miles. If you never check your dipstick, you’ll never know that you need to add more oil. Worse yet, if you don’t top off your oil, you stress the remaining oil, dramatically reducing its useful life.
Never Drive When Your Oil Light is Lit
All cars have a “low oil pressure” warning light. If the light comes on while you’re driving, it can mean that your car is dangerously low or completely out of oil. Or it can mean that your car has a serious leak that’s causing a pressure drop, a clogged oil passage that’s causing oil starvation, or the oil pump has failed or is failing.
Whatever the cause, when the light comes on, pull off the road immediately and shut off the engine. Then pop the hood and check the oil level using the dipstick. If the dipstick shows you’re out of oil or dangerously low, you must add more oil before restarting. Driving a car when it’s dangerously low or completely out of oil will destroy your engine in just a few minutes.
However, if the dipstick shows you’ve got oil, then the problem is even more serious and must be checked out by a mechanic.
Never Drive With Less Than a Quarter Tank of Gas
The electric fuel pump is located inside the fuel tank on just about every fuel-injected car and truck. The reason why Car makers put it there is so it’s cooled and kept at a safe operating temperature by the gas in the tank. But if you consistently drive with less than a quarter tank, the low fuel level can’t always provide enough cooling for the pump, and that can cause early fuel pump failure.
Furthermore, consistently driving with a low fuel level causes the pump to suck in debris from the bottom of the tank. That debris can pass through the “sock” filter in the tank and the particles can wear out the pump impeller, causing a low fuel pressure situation.
You don’t have to rush to a fuel station every time you are at quarter tank as the fuel pump can easily handle occasional low fuel level operation. But, if you consistently drive with less than a quarter tank, you increase your chances of early fuel pump failure and a big repair bill.
Never Use the Wrong Oil
Newer car engines are built to more exacting tolerances and include high-tech mechanisms like variable valve timing (VVT) and turbochargers to squeeze more power and miles out of every gallon of gas. VVT systems work by pulsing pressurized oil into hydraulic passages to advance or retard the camshaft.
The computer varies the pulse rate based on engine temperature and driver inputs from the accelerator pedal. It all works great if you use the right oil and it gets messed up if you use the wrong oil. In fact, using the wrong viscosity oil can actually set a trouble code and light the “check engine” light on your dash.
So ignore the advice from your buddies or online “oil experts” and stick with the car maker’s oil recommendation. They designed the engine and they’re in the best position to know what fluids it needs.