Most car owners will be happy to take a few extra steps in looking after their vehicle if it means increasing its lifespan. Keeping a car in the best condition possible will mean the reducing the likelihood of expensive repairs, getting a better price when selling it on and feeling satisfaction in knowing you’re taking the best possible care of your valued possession. Below we look at 10 different things you can do to improve and maintain the health of your car.
- Check and Top-Up Fluids Regularly
This tip may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many car owners hardly ever check their car’s fluid levels. Failure to do so can result in very high repair charges or complete engine failure. Don’t wait for a warning light to appear on your dash before you check your fluid levels. A warning light is designed to alert the driver when levels are critically low and immediate action is required. It shouldn’t be relied upon as a regular reminder. To keep your car in good working order and avoid high repair charges you should check your engine oil, engine coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid and windscreen washer fluid regularly. One fluid usually requires more top ups than another, for example windscreen fluid usually needs at least one top up a month for a car in regular use, whereas brake fluid rarely needs to be topped up between services. However, you may find it more convenient to check all fluid levels at once while you’re already checking under the hood.
- Look After Your Paintwork
Looking after your cars exterior is just as important as taking care of its engine and interior, especially when it comes to maintaining its resale value. Regularly washing your car will help to keep the paintwork in good condition and prevent damage. Organic contaminants will collect on your car each time you drive or the car is left exposed to the elements. These contaminants can become trapped on the paintwork in wet and humid conditions and in turn cause corrosion and rusting. Other contaminants such as bird droppings and tree sap can also cause corrosion. Bugs and tar marks can be difficult to remove if left for too long, and proper removal can potentially cause scratches or chips in the paintwork. Depending on where your car is kept and how often you drive will determine how often you need to clean it. If your car is kept in a garage for instance it will not need to be washed as often as say… a car kept underneath a tree.
When the time comes to wash your car make sure to use car shampoo, not dish soap! Car shampoos are specially formulated for use on car paint whereas dish soap and other detergents could potentially damage the paintwork over time. Waxing your car every few months will also help to protect the paintwork and make dirt removal easier.
- Look After your Tyres
Taking proper care of your car’s tyres is highly important for several reasons; aside from being dangerous and illegal, tyres which are worn or underinflated can also cause damage to the wheels, car efficiency and overall car health. It can be surprising just how much a worn tyre can affect things like your car’s breaks, gearbox and suspension. Regularly check your tyres pressure and tread depth while inspecting for signs of damage such as punctures or bald spots. Having good driving habits will also help to reduce the likelihood of tyre damage; take care when performing risky manoeuvres like mounting the curb, avoid excessive breaking and don’t overload your vehicle.
- Avoid Poorly Maintained Roads
A badly surfaced road can wreck havoc on your vehicles wheels, suspension wheel alignment and internal parts. Of course it is not possible to avoid badly surfaced roads all the time, however if a road you regularly drive on is in desperate need of resurfacing contact your local council and raise the issue with them. Until the road has been resurfaced try to take another route. Regularly check traffic reports for warnings of roadwork’s and potholes, especially when taking a new route or heading on a long journey.
- Use Your Air Con
Regular air con use helps to keep your car’s air conditioning system in good working order. Even in winter, you should turn on the system every so often to avoid a build up of bacteria and dirt. If your air con is producing a musty or vinegary type smell, this is likely to be a build up of mildew caused by an inefficient AC system or clogged AC drain. Running it regularly will allow proper drainage and the seals within the system to open so that it can dry naturally. Leave your system unused for too long and you’re most likely allowing the seals and other components to disintegrate, rendering them useless when you do want to turn your air con on.
- Don’t Abuse Engine or Foot Breaking
The best drivers use a smooth combination of engine and foot breaking to slow down. Abusing either type of breaking is a great way to cause your vehicle damage. Engine breaking (using your gearbox to slow down) helps to reduce the stress on the breaking system and vice versa, however relying on either method as your main way of slowing down isn’t great for your car. Gradually moving down your gears in combination with light breaking is the best way to reduce the likelihood of break or gearbox issues.
- Go Easy on Your Clutch
Regularly using your clutch to hold your vehicle on a stationary incline will cause it to wear out. To increase your clutch’s lifespan use it only to change gear and set off. When parked or stopped at a light, use your handbrake, even if it’s just for a short time. Avoid lingering when changing gears: do it quickly and smoothly for best efficiency.
- Keep Your Car Covered if you Can
This is another tip that can really help increase the resale value of your car. Of course, cars are designed to live a life outdoors, but less exposure means less deterioration. It’s not just harsh conditions that can damage your car, sun exposure can cause bleaching of the interior and paintwork to fade and crack. If you don’t have a garage to keep you car in, cover it with a sheet or tarp when it’s not in use.
- Give your Diesel Engine a Regular High Speed Run
Diesel engines are fitted with a DPF particle filter which captures unused diesel particles. When the filter is becoming full, the DPF warning light will illuminate on the dash. Again, as with any warning light, it’s better if it never turns on, the warning light is a sign that the problem needs to be addressed urgently. A regular, high speed run on the motorway will allow the engine to heat up enough so that it can burn any particles trapped in the filter. If you only use your car for short journeys make sure to do this regularly to prevent your filter from getting blocked. Filters which are too full will need to be replaced altogether and they don’t come cheap!
- Don’t Let Your Engine Run on Empty
Most cars will illuminate the warning light when the fuel level is around 10-15% capacity. Leave it even longer and your warning light may flash or your car could give you an alert signal using an audible ‘beep’ (you really don’t want to get to this stage). Not only is driving with the warning light on putting you at risk of breaking down its also terrible for your car. This is because sediment settles in the bottom of your fuel tank, running below a quarter full can mean these particles make their way into the fuel pump and filter causing blockage. Running on empty can also cause the fuel pump to overheat, as the pump needs fuel to keep it cool.
This Article was written by AP Diesels – Diesel Injector and Diesel Pump Specialists.