Maintain Your Cool

It’s a new year and big things are coming, but first let’s focus on automotive maintenance issues that matter.

Maintain Your Cool

‘Tis the season for false resolutions and the “go get ‘em” attitude! These thoughts will slowly subside over the course of a month or two when you realize how excitable you made yourself, and how unrealistic they are. Life gets in the way and we all do it. However, there are a few resolutions you can do to your automotive fleet that can make a huge difference in 2016. Few things in life are as satisfying as buying an affordable upgrade and not having to sweat about the budget. Here are a few things to make your 2016 a bit safer, productive and keep your car running for years down the road.

New Headlight Bulbs

One of the quickest and most effective swaps you can do to your car is changing your headlights. Switching both high and low beams can make the biggest difference in your safety, both day and night. Studies have shown running your headlights during the day could reduce crash incidents by 5-10 percent. Depending on what year, make and model your car, by the time you get around to changing your headlight bulbs their power could be degraded, and their potential effectiveness decreased by a large margin. Technology and newer products could have also improved as to what was available when the car was new. Be clear though, new bulbs usually won’t help with how far down the road the light reaches, instead on how bright the light is.

Companies like Sylvania, Hella and Bosch all offer multitudes of choices ranging from $15 bulbs to $200 Xenon light arrays. However, bulbs are what you’re after and they usually won’t cost more than $25 for a good pair/$50 for both sides of high/low. Newer cars might be a bit more of a technical challenge, but most cars only have a few bolts to remove in order to access the bulbs behind the headlights. Your instruction manual should cover the changes. You can also adjust the headlights on the vertical axis to allow for a greater spread down the road, which allows you to see further. Be cognizant, however, of other drivers. Pro Tip: If you’re a do-it-yourself person, you can purchase headlight restoration kits to clear up any hazy/dirty headlights increasing the effectiveness even more.

Synthetic Oil

Numerous studies have shown that while synthetic oil is initially more expensive versus its conventional counterpart, the long-term benefits outweigh any up-front costs. In a nutshell, synthetic oil is a man-made lubricant using petroleum byproducts, as opposed to conventional crude oil. While there may be friction with your wallet at first judging and comparing the cost benefits, the longevity of synthetics will have you changing the oil less frequently with more beneficial results to your motor.

The generally accepted rule of thumb might be a 3,000-mile interval between each oil change; with synthetics you could potentially extend that twice as long with no ill-fated effects. The higher quality of synthetic oils gives your motor a friendlier place to do its job. It’s violent in the engine with combustion happening thousands of times a second, so every bit of advanced lubrication and reduction in engine wear can keep your car’s life extended for years. It’s a little thing that goes a long way. Plus, if you’re handy, you can cut down on labor costs by doing the oil change yourself.

Air Filter

That dirty, old, disgusting paper filter that resides under your hood could use a change. Just like how a vacuum filter works less and less effectively the more crap that gets in it, your car’s air filter works under the same premise. The choices are fairly simple: a replacement OEM (original equipment manufacturer) paper filter, an upgraded advanced paper filter from suppliers such as FRAM, or an aftermarket performance filter from companies such as K&N.

While they will all do a better job at blocking nasty particulates from entering your engine, the high-performance options will give you increased power and fuel efficiency. Like synthetic oils, they will be more expensive initially. Unlike the regular drop in filters though, most aftermarket performance filters are made of a washable and reusable metal mesh that is guaranteed to give you years of use.


Tires are a bit more tricky. First off they’re not cheap (at least not for a quality set), and second, it’s up to you to use your discretion when they need to be maintained. You could simply have them rotated—though if you have asymmetrical tires it becomes a bit more complicated as they can only be swapped front and rear—or be risky and run them until tread is nonexistent. We prefer to use a bit of common sense when it comes to the only thing that actually touches the road.

In the U.S., the law requires that you must have at least 2/32-inch of tread left or the tire is considered “worn out.” Many people, such as tirerack.com agree that 4/32-inch is a good safety measure before tire degradation starts to seriously impact performance and grip, especially in wet weather. If you’re concerned about ride quality, safety, performance and fuel economy, make sure to check your tires every couple of months.

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Michael CrenshawMichael Crenshaw

Currently the full-time Editorial Director and Content Manager for RxSpeed.com, & contributing writer for Scout.com. He also loves photography, videography, his Shiba Inu Mia and driving sports cars.