Keeping your car ready for business

In our previous blog post, Top 3 car care tips for REALTORS, we discussed the three most important ways to maintain your car and improve its performance. Here are a few more things you can do to keep your car running in top condition for as long as possible.

Keep it clean. Even if you never take clients around in your car, you should keep your car clean inside and out. Everyone can see your car and it makes an impression. Beyond that, just like a house a clean car will last longer and have a better resale value. Dirt and grime will break down the plastics, leather and fabrics in the interior, and eat away at the finish on the exterior, so it’s best to keep it clean in as much as possible. Throw away trash every day and vacuum the interior at least once a month. If you get targeted by a generous flock of passing birds, wash it off as soon as possible. Bird droppings are actually pretty acidic and you don’t want to leave it on your car longer than necessary. Remember to clean the windshield inside and out, and condition the upholstery often. Detailing does make a difference in how long the interior lasts.

Take it easy. Give your car about 30 seconds to warm up before shifting into gear. That way, all of the oil that has settled back into the oil pan will have a chance to lubricate the engine before you start working it. If the car hasn’t been driven for a few days or has been in storage, give it a little more time before you head out. Once you are on the road, don’t turn on the radio right away. Listen for a few minutes for any changes in sounds, like squeaking brakes. Often these early warning sounds can save you hundreds in extra repairs. Unfortunately, they’re easily drowned out by radios. Go easy on the brakes and don’t drive too hard unnecessarily. Aggressive driving reduces the life of your vehicle. Similarly, save your transmission by making sure the car has stopped before you shift into reverse or going into a forward gear.

Be safe, not sorry. Routinely check online to see if there are any recalls on your car. Millions of cars are under recall notices for reasons large and small. Check to see if your vehicle has any outstanding recall on it by running the VIN through NHTSA’s website. You may find that you need to get new air bags, or a have potentially dangerous electrical harness replaced.

Don’t be cheap. Follow your manufacturer’s advice when it comes to the right fuel for your car. If your manual instructs you to use premium fuel, do so. The engine won’t perform correctly on the cheaper stuff and you won’t get the performance or longevity out of your car. Conversely, if the manual doesn’t say you need the expensive stuff, you won’t benefit by using it. Use the correct fuel, fluids and parts for your car and it will last much longer and perform much better than if you try to go a more economical route.