1. Never use reconstituted antifreeze. It is found on the shelf of almost every autoparts store in America. You are putting your engine at risk by using this sub-standard fluid. Stick to a popular brand of ethylene-glycol based coolant. To back up this claim, General Motors published an advisory stating that they are not aware of any chemical that can be added to `used’ coolant to restore it to an acceptable rate. However, on the bright side, at the time this is being written, a few companies are working on solving this problem.
2. If you are buying a used car and want to find out if it has been recalled by the manufacturer for certain defects or repairs, just take the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to the local dealership. They can access the information via computer for you free of charge.
3. Never try to start your car for more that 20 seconds at a time. It causes extreme amperage draw and can sometimes damage battery cables (even melt the protective insulation down). But more important than that is, it can ruin the starter. The starter is only designed for running short intervals. So take a one minute break between every 20 second interval of using the starter.
4. If your engine has ever overheated, the transmission has likely overheated too. Make sure to change the transmission fluid promptly. It is important to your transmission’s longevity. Once the transmission fluid overheats, it loses much of its protective properties.
5. Tires do not need to be rotated unless they are wearing unevenly. Unnecessary tire rotation is a common waste of money.
6. If you feel a pulsation or vibration during braking, many mechanics will automatically machine your front brake discs. Sometimes this vibration can be your rear drums. To tell the difference, try to notice if the vibration is coming through the steering wheel or through your seat. The steering wheel indicates front brakes, your seat indicates rear drums. You can use this method to also determine the front or rear location of other general vibrations.
7. Keep in mind the oil pressure light on the dashboard is not a foolproof system. If the light does come on, the engine has been without oil long enough to do severe damage.
8. If the water does not bead up on the car’s exterior after it has rained, it is time for a wax job. Your car should be waxed twice a year; more if you drive near salt water or park your car outside.
9. Never get lost on an interstate again. There is a system to the numbering. One or two digit even- numbered highways indicates major East to West routes. One or two digit odd-numbered highways are major North to South routes. Three digit even-numbered highways show loop routes around a city. Three digit odd-numbered highway head to or from a center city.
10. If white smoke flows from your exhaust after the engine warms up, it could indicate a leaky head gasket (this is commonly referred to as a blown head gasket). The coolant leaks into the combustion chamber and burns to make the white smoke. Other symptoms to look for are oil in the radiator fluid or water in the engine oil. Also be aware that white smoke can also just mean that the car is running rich. However, a rich running engine will usually emit white smoke immediately after start-up and continue thereafter.