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How To Maintain A Car: A Guide
●June 23, 2021●5 minute read
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If you have a car, you’re likely no stranger to the many costs that come along with vehicle ownership. From petrol to registration costs, car maintenance is just another thing to add to the list.
However, there are ways to minimise extra car repair costs, including proper maintenance of your car. Below, we discuss how to maintain a car, why it’s important to do so, and more.
Maintaining a car
Maintaining a car is more than just regular servicing, though that is still important. In order to avoid further problems down the line, there are checks you can do to ensure a smooth ride.
Check your tires
To avoid an annoying flat tire, or worse, a car accident, checking your tire pressure regularly is really important. Most petrol stations have tire pressure checkers. If you’re not sure how much air is meant to be in your tires, you can refer to your car owner’s manual. Alternatively, some cars have the recommended tire pressure on the inside of the car door, or even a quick Google can help you find the answers you’re looking for.
Change your oil
In order to keep your car’s engine running in pristine condition, checking the oil regularly is essential. Each month, make sure to check your car’s oil as directed in the owner’s manual.
Typically, checking your oil is simple. You can change your oil yourself, or take it to a professional. If you’re changing it yourself, ensure you know the best motor oil for your car and consider these three things: the oil viscosity, whether you should use synthetic or non-synthetic oil, and your car’s mileage.
If you’re not sure how to check or change your oil, you can likely find the answers you’re looking for on Google. Alternatively, get a person that knows how to do it to show you.
There are a few key fluids that need to be checked and kept at a sufficient level for your car to run properly. The following need to be checked, either by you or a mechanic, to avoid further problems down the line:
- Engine oil;
- Power steering fluid;
- Brake fluid;
- Transmission fluid.
Test your lights
Having lights that don’t work is not only dangerous, but it can also result in a hefty fine. Inspect each bulb, both front and back lights, to ensure that they are working properly. If you’re unsure, you can ask a mechanic or look up on how to do it yourself.
If your headlights are working, but not shining as bright as they used to, you might want to try cleaning the lenses or changing them before they dim.
Replace windshield wipers
If your windshield wipers aren’t working the way they used to, it’s important to replace them. Dirty or old windshield wipers can become a massive problem during a heavy storm, leaving you with poor visibility, which is extremely dangerous. Inspect your windshield wiper blades regularly and replace them when you need to.
Change your engine air filter
A dirty engine air filter can reduce your engine’s efficiency. Inspect the air filter once annually and replace it if necessary.
Wash your car
Your car is subject to all the elements: from sun to rain to other unpleasant things. You might have parked under a tree, unaware of the birds living there.
If bird droppings are not removed quickly, it can damage and etch into your car’s paint, sometimes leaving serious damage.
Keeping your car clean is not only more visually appealing, it can prevent long-term damage. Wash your car regularly to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.
Taking your car to a mechanic
While there are things you can do yourself to maintain your car, it’s also sometimes necessary to take your car to a mechanic. When it’s time for your regular service, your car is making a weird noise you can’t locate, or any strange lights come on, a mechanic is going to be your best next point of contact. Usually, your owner’s manual will let you know of the manufacturer’s recommended servicing.
As a general rule, most cars should be serviced every six months or 10,000km (whichever comes first). However, if you have an older car, you drive in difficult conditions, or you have had some problems with your vehicle in the past, you might choose to service your car every three months or 5,000km.
If your car is having troubles, like the engine light coming on, a mechanic can diagnose and fix the problem. In addition, if you need to replace any core components, such as the alternator or wheel bearings, a mechanic is the best person to help. You can schedule regular tune-ups to get everything checked, and avoid making small problems from becoming bigger, more expensive problems.
Get your brakes checked
Your car has front and back brake pads, which are responsible for your car stopping when you need it to. Listen for any brake noise, and pay attention to any shuddering or vibrating when you use the brake pedal. If you have any concerns, you should ask a mechanic to check them out immediately.
Another car maintenance tip is to have a sufficient level of car insurance. To briefly summarise, there are four types of car insurance: compulsory third party (CTP), third party property damage, third party fire and theft, and comprehensive car insurance. CTP insurance is compulsory for all Australian drivers, but any additional insurance is completely optional.
Generally, the more extensive your car insurance cover is, the more you are covered for and the more expensive you can expect the premiums to be. Having comprehensive car insurance, for example, will usually cover car repair costs in the case you are in a car accident that was not your fault. Any other level of insurance will not cover this, and you might need to pay for repairs yourself.
Why is it important?
If this all seems like too much effort, or too many things to consider, let’s discuss why car maintenance is so important.
- Increases safety: Checking that everything is running smoothly in your car prevents larger issues arising in the future. It keeps you safe on the road, knowing that your brakes are working and your engine is performing properly.
- Keeps car performance at its best: Your car will be more reliable. Tires will have their best traction, your steering will be stable, and your engine will always start properly.
- Saves you money in the long term: Taking care of your car regularly minimises the chances of needing to spend thousands of dollars to fix issues later down the track.
- Lowers the cost of fuel: If you don’t keep up-to-date with your car’s servicing or maintenance, your car’s fuel efficiency can take a hit. Proper car maintenance means your fuel is going the distance, and you don’t need to stop at a petrol station every few days to fill up.
- Keeps car value high: If you plan on selling your car, your regular servicing and maintenance will be a factor in the value of your car. Potential buyers will look at your servicing handbook before they decide whether to purchase or not.
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Written by Rachel Horan
Rachel Horan is a Content Writer for Jacaranda Finance. Rachel has previously produced content for Brisbane City Council, Black & White Cabs, and Clubs Queensland. She has a Bachelor of Mass Communication with Distinction from the Queensland University of Technology.