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    Insurance | 3 min read

    Resources for Borrowers: Tips for Maintaining High-Mileage Vehicles

    According to a recent report in Automotive News, “China's efforts to curb its largest COVID-19 outbreak in two years has forced companies like automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen Group to suspend some operations, raising concerns over supply chain disruptions.”

    Since the U.S. auto industry is still struggling to keep up with challenges and bottlenecks emanating from supply chain issues, this is foreboding news for consumers already facing high demand and low vehicle supply.

    With new and used car prices increasing at historic levels, many people are making the decision to keep their current vehicles for some time to come.

    Here are four tips for maintaining high-mileage vehicles you can share with your borrowers to help ensure their current vehicles are in top shape until the auto market becomes more favorable for consumers.

    1. Check and change engine oil regularly.

    Encourage borrowers to check their engine oil regularly when the car is warmed up and sitting on level ground. Here are five steps to changing engine oil:

    1. Turn the engine off and wait a couple of minutes for the oil to settle.
    2. Remove and clean the dipstick. It is usually a bright color with a round or T-shaped handle.
    3. Reinsert the dipstick completely, wait a moment, then take it back out.
    4. Check the oil level. There are two notches on the dipstick that show the optimum level for your oil. Your oil level should fall somewhere between the two marks.
    5. Remember to reinsert the dipstick fully when finished.

    2. Maintain optimal tire pressure and alignment.

    Maintaining the optimal tire pressure for individual vehicles and tire sizes will help prevent flats and blowouts and keep your borrowers’ vehicles in alignment. I Drive Safely recommends the following simple steps for checking tire pressure:

    1. Identify the recommended PSI in your owner’s manual.
    2. Ensure the recommended PSI is not higher than the PSI on the tire sidewall.
    3. Remove the nozzle cap from the tire.
    4. Using a tire gauge, check each tire for its PSI while the engine is cold.
    5. Using an air compressor, fill each tire to the recommended PSI.
    6. Replace the nozzle cap.

    Checking tire alignment will help ensure the vehicle’s suspension is performing well. Improper tire alignment can result in the vehicle veering to one side while driving. Uneven tread wear on tires or the steering wheel vibrating or veering off-center may be signs the car is out of alignment.

    3. Monitor brake fluid levels.

    Encourage your borrowers to follow these steps from Quakerstate to check brake fluid:

    1. Locate brake master cylinder reservoir. This is typically mounted on or near the firewall at the rear of the engine compartment, in front of where the brake pedal is mounted. If you're having trouble finding it, consult your owner’s manual.
    2. Check the fluid level. Most vehicles made after 1980 have a translucent reservoir with an easily identifiable “full” line.
    3. If the level is low, add brake fluid to the "full" line.
    4. Replace cap.

    4. Check brake pads regularly.

    The very last thing your borrowers want going out while they’re driving down the road is their brakes. Encourage them to take their high-mileage vehicles in for regular brake checks. Between inspections, it’s a good idea to check the brake pads. They can become thin over time, which could decrease the efficiency of the brakes.

    According to HowStuffWorks, “All you need to do to check your brake pads is look between the spokes of your wheel to spot the shiny metal rotor inside. When you find it, look around the outer edge where you'll see the metal caliper. Between the caliper and rotor, you'll see the pad. You'll have to estimate, but generally, your pads should be at least one-quarter of an inch thick. If they're any thinner than that, it's a good idea to get them changed.”

    Conclusion

    Since many consumers are keeping their cars longer, SWBC’s newly launched healthCAR program will give any account holder—regardless of the mileage on their vehicle, or where their loan is serviced—the ability to purchase an affordable, monthly (plans start at $53/month) vehicle protection option that can help them budget for and prepare for the inevitable expenses that come with vehicle ownership.

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    Jennifer Webb

    Jennifer Webb joined SWBC in 2000 and is currently the Director of Product Management for SWBC’s Financial Institution Group.

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