A Beginners Guide to Owning and Maintaining a Foreign Car
Owning a car is not only beneficial for your family, but it’s also an experience that gives you a sense of freedom and independence. The shiny exterior to capture the public attention, the fresh interior for your comfort, and the smooth ride are all you need. However, you may like to have an experience with a foreign car in the United States. But foreign cars have maintenance, repair, and other needs that differ from local ones. With that said, here are 10 tips for owning and maintaining a foreign car.
Consult the Owner Manual
As soon as you purchase the vehicle, pick up the owner’s manual and read it to understand the different systems added by the manufacturer. Foreign cars may have the same features as local ones, like safety and comfort, but the systems and parts may differ. As such, you must understand your vehicle to choose the best mechanic and spare parts shop when maintaining a foreign car.
An owner’s manual will give you comprehensive details about various components in the car. If you understand the purpose and functionality of all these components, identifying any faults will become very easy. Reading the owner manual also helps you identify the location of essential parts you must use daily. For instance, you will use the dipstick to check the oil level daily before starting the car.
Lastly, you must understand using different features and systems. For instance, some cars have a full-time four-wheel drive option. Once you get into a muddy terrain where you need much traction, you have to engage it. The AC and the infotainment system are other features you may need to engage in. You also need to understand the type of paint used to ease auto body repairs in case of collisions.
Don’t Ignore the Warning Lights
Gone are the days when you manually checked the systems to identify car problems. Automakers have implemented new technology that enables you to interact with your car. Modern cars have a device known as the Electronic Control Module(ECM). The ECM can help when maintaining a foreign car easily because it displays for you any fault identified within the system by the sensors.
Foreign cars like the Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Audi are the most technologically advanced. They are equipped with warning lights that indicate any fault in the system. Note that even the local cars have warning lights that help you interact with the system. But foreign cars may have unique modes of display that can take your time to learn.
Warning lights can save you from accidents because when a vital system like the brake has problems, you’ll identify them earlier and seek brake repair services. On the other hand, if the traction control system fails, you can learn earlier and avoid risky roads before going for troubleshooting and repairs. Warning lights also save your car engine and other components from further damage. If you notice an engine problem earlier, you can fix it before it becomes severe.
Safety Driving Habits
There are right and wrong ways of driving a car. Incorrect ways of driving can increase your budget for maintaining a foreign car. As such, you would want to practice correct and safe driving tips that will maintain the durability of your car. However, different car models have different capabilities and lifespan.
That said, you must understand the car engine power and the features included by the manufacturer. Some cars come from countries with no snow or other severe weather challenges. So, they may lack some features to help you maneuver in different terrains. You don’t have to be hard on the accelerator pedal during winter or tough terrains if you have such a car.
Another driving tip to prolong your car lifespan is warming up the engine. Some cars, like the BMW, need engine warming before driving if you have parked them overnight. However, some manufacturers recommend driving slowly for the first few kilometers to give engine components time to warm up. Moreover, you must avoid alternating between accelerating and braking for fuel efficiency.
Some driving habits like heavy acceleration and braking can lead to fast brake wear. Hard acceleration can also take a toll on your transmission system. Other habits that also damage the transmission system are tire burnout. If you love going for weekend tracking, you must invest in a foreign car with a powerful engine and transmission to avoid regular transmission repairs.
Take Care of the Exterior
While foreign cars give you a unique experience, they can be expensive to maintain, especially on the exterior. Cars from Germany have the most advanced technologies that help prevent collisions and damage. However, collisions cannot be entirely avoided on the highways. For this reason, you must take care of your paint job because they come with expensive paints.
The second thing maintaining a foreign car may be expensive is the availability of professionals. Most US body shops may be experienced in dealing with the most common car paints in the region. As such, you can spend more time finding a professional knowledgeable about certain paints that come with foreign cars. Nevertheless, some paints in foreign cars may only withstand the US weather for a short time, so they need high-level maintenance.
The most common paint job in most cars is the solid paint finish. It’s the standard paint applied on cars for owners who would love to spend less on paint jobs and don’t need much of the classy exteriors. Solid finishes are easier and cheaper to produce; therefore, they are used in most cheaper cars. However, foreign cars like the German would have a more expensive paint finish.
Foreign classy cars have metallic paint with tiny aluminum powder to reflect light and shine. Metallic options are normally expensive, and some repair shops may lack professionals to deal with them. Metallic paints are found in cars like BMW 3 series and Range Rover. The pearlescent paint is another better option than the metallic one, which can shine even brighter.
Waxing the body is an effective way to maintain a foreign car exterior. Buff and wax the body with the help of professionals before and after the winter because road grime and salt can take a toll on the paint job. Secondly, drive carefully to avoid collisions and park your vehicle in a safe place in public.
On the other hand, look for professionals during oil changes. Professionals observe safety when servicing the vehicle because oil stains on the car body can damage the aesthetics. Also, ensure no spillage while fueling the car at the gas station because gasoline damages the paint finish.
Always Check Your Car Tires
Checking on the tires is another great way of maintaining a foreign car. Under-inflated car tires can damage the suspension if you drive on a rough road. Inflated tires can also damage the rims, especially if you drive long distances. Some car owners also change the tire size for better traction, but that’s not a wise decision.
Swapping the tires for a smaller size can lead to ground clearance issues. Manufacturers design car tire sizes depending on their weight and performance. As such, smaller wheels may lead to damage to the underbody. On the other hand, larger wheels can increase ground clearance but increase fuel consumption.
Experts also argue that changing the tire size can affect the speedometer reading. Most speedometers become slower when the car tire sizes are increased. Consult with the auto repair company and the insurance before making this decision. Adding some features can also lead to problems with your insurance in case of collision.
Additionally, go for wheel alignments regularly to avoid damaging your car suspension system. Wheel alignment also helps in reducing gas mileage and maintaining the tire lifespan. It can also enhance safety by improving vehicle steering and handling capability.
Learn How to Diagnose the Braking System
The brake system is a vital car component because it lets you stop it in an emergency. As such, a brake system check is essential before driving or when maintaining a foreign car. With the help of the user manual, learn how your foreign car brake system is made and how it works. This will help you when diagnosing the system.
First, roll down the car windows and drive around the homestead as you listen for any scraping sound. If the sound happens when you’ve not pressed the brake pedal, the brake pads are not returning to their normal position. Additionally, test if the brakes feel harder or softer when driving.
Modern cars use the hydraulic brake system, and low brake fluid can affect the braking. Regularly check for the brake fluid levels and confirm with the instrument cluster if there are warning lights. Ideally, check under the vehicle for any leakages around the garage floor. If the brakes have unusual responses and the issue seems major, call your mobile mechanic to help you diagnose.
Find a Go-To Mechanic
Maintaining a foreign car can be challenging, especially during the first days of purchase. You must have a mechanic who understands the car to guide you on performing preventative maintenance and perform repairs in case of a breakdown. Find a professional mechanic near your location and have their contact for consultation whenever you face challenges with your car.
A reliable mechanic can also recommend you to the best towing services in case your car breaks down far from the shop location. A professional mechanic also knows the type of oil and other fluids you can use on your engine type. When choosing the mechanic, review their job history to confirm they can repair your car. If possible, contact a few people they have offered services to and learn about their professionalism.
Understand the Interior Maintenance Basics
Modern cars have the most advanced interior for comfort and safety. Some foreign cars will have a leather or fabric interior and a center console with various controls. Understanding maintenance basics will save you money and enhance your health during your driving time.
Place the trash bins on the car to have an easy time handling waste. Also, clean the cup holders regularly because coffee and other drinks spillage can lead to fast interior wear. Keep the interior fresh with the air fresheners and change the cabin air filter regularly to keep the air fresh. Additionally, shake out the floor mats before parking your car to remove dust and other materials.
Take your car for detailing after a few months, especially during winter. This will help you control the mold and keep the cabin fresh. Detailing is also beneficial after the auto dent repair because the car gets dust around the shop due to several activities in the area.
Choose the Best Insurance Company
Foreign cars may need a special insurance policy because sourcing their spares and performing maintenance can be expensive. A reliable insurance company can help you perform auto painting after a collision without much hassle. A reliable insurance company is transparent in its deals, so filing a claim will be easier.
When choosing an insurance company for your foreign car, check their reviews and ratings. If you lack enough information on the internet, consult friends and colleagues. Once you have identified the insurer, visit their offices and learn about their policy declarations. An insurer with suitable coverage and quality services is ideal for your foreign car.
Join an Online Community
Online communities have become very helpful for car owners and other people who share similar interests. Join an online community and connect with people who own similar models to your car. The online community will enlighten you on driving and maintenance tips for your car type.
Luckily, you’ll be able to connect with people worldwide and share your experience with them. The best platform to join is Facebook, Quora, or Reddit because they have higher traffic. You can go through questions and answers, learn a lot, and advise on the areas you are experienced in.
Owning and maintaining a foreign car is easier, provided you prepare and learn the basics before purchasing. Fortunately, the internet has enabled people to communicate easily and share knowledge at a lower cost. Whether you need auto ceramic coating or major repairs on your foreign car, you will find a professional and get advice online. One key thing to note with foreign cars; find a reliable mechanic and service the car as recommended.