Some basic maintenance that you can do yourself will help you to know your vehicle and keep informed when discussing issues with your mechanic. Don’t wait for a problem before having it looked at, this can be a costly mistake. When you know the basics about your vehicle, it is easier to identify a problem that requires a mechanic.
GJ Drivelines has compiled a list of 10 Car Maintenance Tips to extend the life of your car and keep it in prime condition.
1. Regular Inspections and Servicing
It is importance to have your car regularly serviced. A reputable, professional mechanic, who is familiar with the manufacture of your car, will keep the performance of your vehicle at its best. Find a mechanic who you trust, with whom you can maintain an ongoing relationship.
Regular servicing ensures that your vehicle is monitored for engine wear and tear along with checks on parts that you can’t necessarily attend to yourself, such as brakes, drive belts, battery life and air filters etc.
2. Familiarize yourself with the Owner’s Manual
The Owner’s Manual will educate you about your vehicle, so it’s worth the effort to read it. The information will help you to get to know your car better and educate you about things that could become an issue, so that you can make an informed decision on the best action to take.
Become familiar with the warning lights and symbols, so that when a sudden flashing light shows on the dash, you will know its meaning; and whether it’s potentially harmful to your engine, or poses a safety hazard.
The manual also tells you the optimum fuel to use as well as tyre pressure. The Manual is a useful information source about your car and how to look after it.
3. Stick to the Manufacturer’s Recommendations
Changing to a higher octane fuel to increase your car’s performance will reduce the long term sustainability of its performance and shorten the life of your vehicle, so unless you are modifying your vehicle for special driving conditions, it’s recommended that you stay with the manufacturer’s recommended fuel.
4. Maintain Fluid Levels
Keep an eye on the fluids that your car uses to keep performing well. Accurate oil levels are essential to the workings of your engine, as is the radiator coolant etc.…even the windscreen wiper fluids ensure that visibility is clear; increasing safety when driving.
Depending on your vehicle’s make and model, it isn’t always easy to check everything, however your Owner’s Manual will tell you what you can check yourself, and how to do it. If you aren’t sure about the procedure, ask your mechanic at the next service check, how and if, you can do it yourself.
5. Tyre Maintenance
It’s vital that your vehicle is correctly fitted with the best tyres for its intended job, for performance as well as safety.
For general driving conditions, it is recommended to stay with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
If you are modifying your vehicle for special conditions, such as off-road driving, and you need specialist performance tyres for these conditions. Consult a knowledgeable expert about the best tyres for your car and its use.
It is essential that you regularly monitor your tyres for safety reasons…check the tread depth, wear conditions, pressure and wheel rotation and balance.
6. Changes in Fuel Economy
Monitor your fuel economy, and to be aware of any changes. If your car is using more fuel than it regularly needs for normal driving conditions, it could be signs of wear and tear on your engine. There are a number of reasons why your car may be going through more fuel than normal, so keeping an eye on the odometer, trip reader and fuel usage will help inform you of any potential problem.
7. Wipers, Lights, and Warning lights
For your safety and others, monitor the condition of your vehicle’s windscreen wipers, lights and indicators, and don’t ignore warning lights that flash on your dashboard. Inefficient wipers, broken head or tail lights, and indicators are dangerous, as well as illegal. They are really easy to spot when not working correctly, and are generally easy to repair…so don’t wait until your next service.
8. Cleanliness has its rewards
A clean car, outside and in, improves the quality of your vehicle and adds to its value. Regular cleaning slows down ageing. Air pollution, sun, road-grime and animal droppings can cause irreparable damage to the surface and metal of your car.
Keeping the interior of your vehicle has equally positive benefits. Grime, dirt, animal hair and food scraps become ingrained into the carpet and upholstery causing a breakdown in materials and a stale smell. So keep you vehicle clean!
9. Watch for Vibrations
Vibrations, when driving, may have a number of causes.
If you’ve been driving on rocky, or rough, roads and notice a new vibration when driving on a bitumen road, it could be due to an imbalance of the driveshaft. Minor imbalances to the driveshaft can be fixed easily, however a dented driveshaft must be replaced, so have it checked out before it gets worse.
Shakes, rattles and vibrations are often a sign that something is wrong, and should be investigated by a professional.
10. Exercise your vehicle
To keep your car in top working order, take it for a decent drive occasionally to allow the engine fluids to flow fully through your engine and prevent oil build up. Short drives don’t give enough time for the oil to flow.
However, remember that a long drive doesn’t mean fast…stick to the speed limits!
Given that engines are such complicated pieces of machinery these days, taking your car for a long drive will give the engine time to warm up and the fluids to travel through, thus keeping it well oiled, which helps for smoother running and less wear generally.