Most sensible drivers (and even a lot of unsensible ones) want to drive their vehicle for as long as possible. Failing that, they at least want to avoid taking their car into the garage and being hit with those expensive repair bills. While many drivers claim they want this, a huge number do not take some simple precautions to help sustain their vehicle’s life and keep it in good working order over the years.
Regularly Check Fluids and Tyre Pressure
Okay, this one might seem as simple as it can get but it’s shocking how few people keep this up on a regular basis. While everyone is taught to drive a car, precious few are taught even the basics of car maintenance like checking the fluid levels and tyre pressure. Even if you know exactly how to undertake this task already, hopefully this blog will at least have served as a helpful reminder to go and check your car’s fluid levels right now!
First thing’s first, only complete this task on a car that has a cool engine so make sure you have not driven your vehicle in at least 15 minutes but preferably longer if possible. Open the hood of the car and take out the oil dipstick. Using a rag or cloth of some kind, wipe off the oil on the dipstick and then reinsert it. Remove it again and check that it the levels are within the recommended limits as marked on the dipstick. If not, top up the oil levels as needed and repeat the process to make sure you have got it right.
While you have the hood open, there are a number of other things you can check. Take a look at the radiator overflow reservoir level as well as the brake cylinder reservoir. The power steering fluid level is another one you can check. Keeping all of these topped up will help you maintain the performance of your vehicle. You can also look at hoses and belts for any signs of wear and tear. You can then start the engine and check the level of the transmission fluid.
After all of these basic checks, you can then turn your attention to the tyres. You will also want to make sure these are as cool as possible, so don’t check them after a long journey. The psi level that each tyre needs to be at will be found in your driver’s manual, inside the driver’s side door jam or inside the petrol hub. Use a pressure gauge to make sure all of the tyres are pumped up to an appropriate level.
Ideally, all of these checks should be conducted once a week but if possible, making sure you do them once every fortnight will give you a good idea of how your vehicle is performing and if there are any imminent problems.
Even new cars need these types of checks, and if you are in the process of looking for a new car, it is worth checking this information guide.
Take Your Time Before Driving Off
We all know some boy racers who feel the need to rev their car several times, immediately put their foot down and hear their tyres screech as they pull away. While being incredibly annoying for everyone else is one problem, a bigger one is the damage that this sort of reckless driving can cause to the engine of a car.
A common myth is that driving off quickly will help the car’s engine warm up faster but this is not the case. A car that has not been driven in more than five hours will have a very cool engine and there will be little or no oil left in the moving parts. All it takes is a few seconds after starting your engine for your car’s oil pump to properly lubricate it. Waiting 30 seconds after startup – or a little longer if you have time – is ideal to help preserve your car’s engine.
Listen Out for Any Strange Noises
Like any other strong relationship, listening is the key! When you have got your car out on the road, turn off any music you have playing and simply listen to your vehicle both while you are stationary and moving. A constant clicking coming from underneath could be a sign that something is stuck in one of your tyres.
If your car needs new brakes, it may make a loud squealing sound when the brakes are not pressed which is your brake wear indicators. When applying the brakes, if your car begins to make a scraping or grinding sound, this could be a sign that your brake pads are low and metal to metal contact is occurring.
If you keep hearing a persistent noise but can’t pinpoint exactly where it is coming from, take your car to a qualified mechanic as soon as possible as continuing to drive it can result in more damage and higher expenses.
Be Cool, Calm and Collected At the Wheel
Constant acceleration up to the car in front and slamming on the brakes is not only bad for your car, it is also bad for your fuel bills. Having a calm driving technique that involves gentle braking, smooth gear changes and controlled acceleration is not only good for your car, it is good for the whole of society! If you want any more incentive, it has been found that this type of driving style can improve fuel economy by as much as 35 per cent!
Another good tip is to make sure your car has completely stopped before shifting into reverse gear and vice versa. This will avoid any undue stress on the transmission components.
Ultimately, even the most reliable of vehicles will have problems at some point but these tips will help you avoid any trips to the mechanic that could have been easily avoided.