A car is an important personal investment, but owning one, whether it is a new car or a used car, takes a lot of hard work. It has to be well taken care of to ensure its reliability and prevent breakdowns. Used cars especially need extra attention as they are more difficult and more expensive to maintain than new cars.
Following a regular maintenance routine will help extend the life of your car as well as keep your cars performance at its peak. It will also save you a lot of money in repairs. Here are 10 basic car care and maintenance tips to follow.
1. Drive with care
Do not accelerate your engine during start-up as this quickly adds to the wear of the car engine. Accelerate slowly when you begin your drive. Shift to neutral at red lights to give the engine some time to rest. Be car considerate and you will be rewarded with longer time between repairs.
2. Wash your car once a week
Washing your car keeps it clean, shiny and free from corrosion. Remember to clean the car interior too. Dirt particles are abrasive while spilled liquids such as sodas and juices can be corrosive. Vacuum your car interior thoroughly and wipe the lenses on the dashboard with a soft damp cloth. Take your mats out and brush or hose them down. This will remove dirt that may otherwise create wear in your mats if they build up. Dry the mats thoroughly in the sun before placing them back in the car.
3. Wax your car too
Waxing your car regularly protects you cars paint job by slowing oxidation and by creating a barrier against bird droppings and pollution. It also makes the car look good by adding extra shine.
4. Park in the shade
Parking your car in the shade prevents interior damage by UV rays and protects your cars paint job. If a shaded area is not available, use a car shade to minimise the suns impact.
5. Change engine oil and filter regularly
Many car owners manual today recommend increasing the interval between oil changes. But frequent oil change is still necessary especially if you are maintaining a used car. Frequent oil changes flush abrasive dirt and metal particles out of the engine, thus prolonging its life. Change the oil filters because the old filters contain build up of oil and dirt particles that will otherwise remain and mix with the new, clean oil.
6. Take care of your tyres
Check your tyre pressure at regular intervals and keep them inflated to the recommended pressure specified in your user manual. Another thing to look out for is uneven wear. If you have properly maintained the tyre pressure, then uneven wear might suggest that it is time for wheel realignment. Uneven wear also suggests worn-out brakes or shock absorbers, a bent wheel or internal tyre damage.
Also have your wheel alignment checked every 50,000 km. Improper wheel alignment shortens the life of your tyres as well as causes steering problems. See if your steering is stiffer than usual or if your car pulls to one side. If it does, you need to have your wheel alignment checked.
7. Clean your car engine
Wash your engine at least every year. A clean engine runs cooler than a dirty one. A clean engine also enables you to easily spot leaks and service its components. You may have your engine professionally steam cleaned or you may opt to do it yourself. In this case, make sure you protect sensitive engine components including the air intake, distributor and electrical parts with plastic bags before getting started. You may use a grease-cutting detergent and a bristle brush to scrub the engine. Make sure to rinse thoroughly once done.
8. Change spark plugs
Many manufacturers recommend changing spark plugs every 50, 000 km. This ensures good fuel mileage and high engine performance.
9. Maintain your car battery
It does not matter if the manufacturer claims that the battery is maintenance-free, you still have to regularly check your car battery to extend its life. Start by keeping your battery terminals clean. You may wipe it with a damp rag with some detergent if needed. Also check the battery case for any sign of damage. Cracks or bulges are signs that your car battery needs to be replaced.
10. Select a reliable car insurer
No matter how careful you are, accidents or damages are inevitable. In this case, you need to have a car insurer you can trust. Choose a car insurer who replaces damaged parts only with original parts from the manufacturer and who can give you guarantees on repairs.
Some final tips
There are also professional car-care service centres that can check your car at regular intervals. It will also help to have your car regularly inspected by a trusted mechanic. When you do your part in caring for and maintaining your car, you will be rewarded with a vehicle you can rely on for years to come.