The Case for Preventative Maintenance on Your Car
Pay Now So You Don't Pay More Later
After the long, cruel winter, the Upper Valley experiences that inconvenient fifth season known as Mud Season. The temperature is a little warmer; the sky is a little bluer; and the ground is softer, dirtier, and reveals all the things that the snow has kept hidden.
As this usually becomes the time to think toward a regular Spring Cleaning effort for your home, consider this the best opportunity to look into basic preventative maintenance for your car. While for some that may mean scheduling a regular state inspection appointment, it should mean looking into all the ways you can extend the life of your vehicle by taking a more proactive approach to avoiding breakdowns, and requiring more serious repairs to the car later on.
"In looking at seasonal maintenance, everybody is looking at efficiency," says Henry Ebosh, the head of operations for Zippity. "So the biggest thing is tire pressure, and air filters."
Keeping an eye on tire pressure is a fairly common word of advice for every car owner, but Henry says it's important to keep a mind that it's particularly important as the seasons change. Though you may have a vehicle with tire pressure monitoring sensors (TPMS), the car is likely to alert you only when pressure is low.
"You can lose two pounds of pressure per month with seasonal change," Henry said. "So in between an oil change, you can lose two pounds of pressure." Likewise, because some TPMS systems only alert drivers to low pressure, the car runs the risk of experiencing more rolling resistance. Henry explains that an under-inflated tire touches the road surface in a different way than a fully inflated tire, which is bad for fuel economy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a car with properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage by 3%.
Similarly, especially in this area as the seasons change, it's also important to visit a car wash to clean the car's undercarriage also for the health of the wheels and tires. "One of the bigger things in the Winter time or in Mud Season, we'll get a customer saying, 'hey, I have a vibration,' and what can happen, especially in this area, mud can get caked inside of the tires, and it's just like a wheel weight. ... It changes the balance, and you'll get that feedback."
As for air filters, Henry's advice recalled the harsh weather experienced by the runners during the 2018 Boston Marathon -- "Imagine trying to run a marathon with your hand over your mouth," he said. "So the challenge is with your car, when that get's clogged, it's inhibiting the vehicle to bring in air, which lowers its efficiency."
Bottom line? Preventative maintenance helps save money in terms of fuel economy, especially if you're somebody with a longer commute. "The people that commute a longer distance are going to save the most money by paying attention to those items," Henry said. "Somebody in town isn't going to save as much, but savings can be quite large if they're commuting twenty miles." But even without a long commute, Henry warned that tires are perhaps the second most expensive investment in a car's health. "It's very tough to get a tire under $200 a piece," he said, explaining that Zippity is a big promoter of tire health.
If you're curious about Zippity and its services, visit Zippitycars.com to learn more.