With proper care and maintenance, your car can, and probably will give satisfactory service for several decades. However, modern cars require a large measure of proper care and maintenance, but you do not have to be a mechanic to do this- nor do you have to spend all your free time fiddling with your car to keep it in top form.
All you need is dedication, some free time, and some basic automotive knowledge. So to help you keep your car in top form, we have compiled this list of top ten car care tips that will not only keep your car in great shape, but also save you a ton of money in the long run.
Keep to The Maintenance Schedule
Although maintenance and servicing schedules differ from car to car, all are designed to keep your car in a safe and reliable condition at the lowest possible cost to the car owner. Lubricants, and especially engine oil, have limited life spans and by regularly replacing the oil, you can add years to the life of your car engine.
When engine oil oxidizes or otherwise degrades, there is nothing to prevent the formation of sludge, acids, and corrosion that all have severe negative impacts on the durability of a modern engine, so by keeping the oil clean you minimize mechanical wear, as well as the corrosive effects of sulfuric acid that forms as the result of the combination of water vapor and some combustion products and oil additives.
Use The Correct Fuel
Always use the grade of fuel specified by your car’s manufacturer. Using lower grades because it may be more cost effective is foolish because it could increase mechanical wear in the engine, as well as cause damage to the emission control system that will almost certainly cost an arm and a leg to repair.
Using the correct fuel will not only save you money because you get better fuel economy, it will also provide the correct level of lubrication and cleaning of the upper cylinders and valves.
Monitor The Anti-Freeze Concentration
The ability of anti-freeze to prevent the coolant from boiling or freezing begins to wear off after about twelve months, which is why it is important to replace the entire coolant mixture at least once a year. However, the concentration of the active ingredients must be at specified levels to be effective, and this varies from brand to brand, and from vehicle to vehicle.
The most reliable way to determine the effectiveness of the coolant mixture is to have the specific gravity checked by a shop that specializes in radiator repairs. Moreover, having the correct concentration of anti-freeze in the coolant will also provide effective protection against internal engine corrosion, which is one of the leading causes of fatal engine overheating.
Monitor The Battery Condition
Apart from keeping the battery clean and free form acid accumulations that could cause the battery to drain, it is important to have the condition of the battery checked at least once every six months or so. This is important because it will check the battery’s ability to receive, store, and release sufficient electrical power to all of the car’s electrical systems.
Defects in car batteries are not always immediately apparent, and it may work satisfactorily for weeks for weeks or even months while in a defective state before you notice that something is wrong. A defective battery can cause problems that range from rough running, increased fuel consumption, hard starting, and malfunctions of the security/alarm system among many others, some of which may not be resolvable just by replacing the battery.
Many electrical issues can be avoided just by having a fully functional battery, so have yours checked regularly, and replace it if shows any signs of being less than perfect.
Monitor Tyre Wear
Uneven, rapid, or irregular tire wear can have many causes, and while a simple realignment of the wheels and axles can correct some causes, others are more difficult to resolve. Possible causes could include deformation of the chassis due to impacts with pot holes, kerbs, and other obstacles, but uneven tire wear is always an indicator that something is wrong.
No finding and correcting the cause could place additional loads and stresses on suspension and steering components, and while these loads may not be immediately apparent, they will cause damage to bushings, bearings, mountings, ball joints, tie-rod ends, and others in the long run. Replacing the tires alone will not resolve the problem, and the existing damage to some components could lead to the rapid wear of the new tires. Always take immediate corrective action when you notice uneven or rapid wear on any tire(s).
Monitor Tyre Pressures
Even if your car is fitted with a tire pressure monitoring system, do not rely on it to maintain your tire pressures. These systems are known for their lack of accuracy, so invest in a good quality digital tire pressure gauge that is available from all auto parts stores.
Incorrectly inflated tires cause increased fuel consumption, increased stopping distances, poor handling, and even poor steering control- not to mention increased tire wear. Always check tire pressures when the tires are cold, and with no loads in or on the vehicle. Always stick to the pressures recommended by the vehicle and tire manufacturer for the best results.
Replace The Brake Fluid
Brake fluid attracts water from the atmosphere, which is why it must be replaced at least once every year to prevent corrosion, and the subsequent failure of moving parts. In most cases, it is impossible to repair parts that have failed because of corrosion, and replacement is the only reliable option.
Moreover, water contaminated brake fluid is dangerous because it could boil even during normal braking, which if it happens, could cause complete brake failure.
Inspect Belts And Hoses
Today, many cars have just one drive belt to drive all ancillary equipment’s such as A/C compressors, alternators, water pumps, and power steering pumps. While it may not be possible to remove the belt for inspection, it is always almost possible to see much of with the aid of a small flash light. Check the belt at least once a month for chips, fraying, tears, or any other sign of damage.
If this belt fails, you will suffer engine overheating, no, or very difficult steering, and in some cases, no brakes. At the same time, check all the radiator hoses for signs of swelling, cracking, or oil contamination, in which case they must be replaced immediately since oil degrades the natural rubber component of the hoses. However, even if the hoses appear to be perfect, replace them every three years to avoid the possibility of ruptures that will lead to engine overheating.
Maintain The Wiper Blades
Perfect wiper blades do not only provide perfect vision in the rain- they also prevent scratching and scoring of your windshield. Scored or scratched wind shields can diffract the headlights of oncoming vehicles to the point where you might lose all visibility during night time driving, which could cause an accident, at which point it becomes irrelevant how well you had been looking after the rest of the car.
Keep The Car Clean
Air-borne pollutants in urban areas can, and sometimes do, eat through microscopic defects in the paint, which is when you will notice the characteristic bubbles of rust too late. Wash the car at least once a week with a compound that leaves a protective waxy residue to protect against the ravages of pollution. However, do not apply any type of polish more than twice a year, because every time you do you remove a layer of paint, which makes it easier for acidic pollutants to eat through the paint that is getting progressively thinner every time you polish your car.
A last thought…
The best part about these tips is that they only take about thirty minutes to do, and that they will not cost you any more than you are already spending on car maintenance. However, these tips also allow you to pick up on small problems before they can develop into big problems, so by paying just a little bit more attention, you can save some serious money by repairing small problems cheaply as they occur- instead of having to mortgage your house to pay for large, unexpected issues.