Where once upon a time a car was a wind-up a piece of luxury that took days to get from A-2-B, nowadays they are an expensive necessity. Most people have a car now for the daily commute to work, for school runs, or for glorious summer drives.
But cars come with a lot of costs. Insurance, taxes, and routine maintenance – even more so if you aren’t taking care of them regularly. Cars become essential, and often, we don’t know how important they are until they break down. People all over the world dread the yearly check because rarely will a car pass without some sort of recommendations. But, you can avoid huge charges by looking after your four-wheeled friends.
The benefits of the, sometimes monotonous car care far outweigh the cons.
Why You Should Care About Car Maintenance
Expensive repairs costs – if you are serious about avoiding hefty repair bills, then you should look to build your car knowledge. If you consider the price of a broken down vehicle because you didn’t check the oil or tyres, and even worse (and still commonly done), putting diesel in a petrol car you’ll be glad you took the time to learn the basics.
Performance – a well looked after car will have a much longer life than those left unattended apart from a few yearly checks in its lifetime. You want to make sure that the vehicle is in peak condition – even more so before you head out on a long journey. Simple things like performing an emergency stop, windscreen wiper check, and even your hazards. Small but effective.
Safety – this shouldn’t really need to be stated. But the better you look after your car, the better it can look after you. You ideally want to make sure that the critical safety components are working. As stated above, the brakes are a big one. Every day people end up in accidents because they haven’t recently checked the treads on the vehicle, or they haven’t checked the belts for twists, knots, and tears.
Resale value – a car that works is worth more than a vehicle that ‘sort of’ works. While we all know that the moment a car leaves the lot, it loses a considerable percentage of its value, we don’t always consider the many years beyond that. Occasions arise where we need to give up our cars. Changes in your circumstances can happen quickly. If you have kept a regular note of maintenance that has been performed, and a prospective buyer can drive the car and feel how well it has been kept you are much more likely to make a decent amount of money back.
Maintenance You Should Be Doing
This will most commonly be a much longer list, but for this article, we are going to focus on what needs doing most often. And things that pretty much anyone can do comfortably. Every year there are around 350 new car models released, and all have different needs. So the first point here is critical.
Read the manual – It’s like when you buy a piece of furniture – say a bookcase. You have seen plenty of bookshelves and so feel like you don’t need the instructions. You put it together and find that you can put a single book on it because you simply thought you knew what you were doing – but actually, you had no idea. In order to optimise your use of the vehicle, you should be sure that you cover the essential parts. There will typically be a list of things that you can use to plug into the car or an app that can give you an overall view of the health of the vehicle (newer models). You will also find the tyre pressure, the light bulbs types, how to use different signal lights, and so much more. So if you have one, don’t skimp out on reading it.
Paint Work – It might seem simply cosmetic, but for resale value and aesthetics, rust spots look horrible and eventually can lead to damage. To avoid that you should consider how you might protect your car paint. As well as cleaning the car regularly, wax also helps keep it even cleaner.
Lights – One of the questions on some of the practical driving tests is how to check your lights. Lights are important on your vehicle. Not only for your own safety but for the protection of others. Signal lights, brake lights, tail lights, and headlamps should all be in working order at all times. Once a week, start your car and check all of the lights. Immediately replace those that aren’t working.
Ideally, you should keep spare bulbs in your glove compartment or boot. So if you are travelling, and you notice an issue (more commonly spotted at night), then you can find the next rest stop and change them. Be sure to use the recommended bulbs for your car, though.
When you are replacing the bulb never touch the glass. The grease, oil, dirt, and grit that you may have on your hands will sit on the surface of the lamp, and heat up faster than the rest – causing it to crack.
Warning Lights – If you pay attention to your manual, there is a guide. That and google can help you identify them. Typically you will find these on the warning light dash:
- Coolant warning
- Oil light warning
- Brake light warning
- Electrical fault
- Service engine
- Check Engine
Tyres – As mentioned above, they should be the correct pressure and have enough tread. If you aren’t sure, then check the manual and head to a gas station to put some air in. This should be done on a weekly basis. Without enough tire pressure, you will be using more fuel that you will like, and are more prone to loose handling.
Windshield wipers – Visibility is a priority when you are thinking about safety. Imagine you have not checked them for a week due to great weather. But in that week something has fallen into the mechanism and jammed them. It starts raining as you are driving and they just won’t move. That is a nightmare scenario and very dangerous for you and those around you. Your wipers shouldn’t leave smudges or smears, they shouldn’t be streaky and should work on all speeds. A simple check each morning before you head out will help keep this a non-issue.
Spark Plugs – If your car misfires from time to time or has a rough idle, then your spark plugs might be on the out. If you also feel that you suffer from a lack of acceleration or your car has an unusual fuel consumption, then you might want to think about the last time that the plugs were replaced. You should replace your spark plugs ever 30,000 miles as standard. Unless you have iridium spark plugs which are designed to last a lot longer than your average spark plug. You can get to your spark plugs with the removal of a couple of bolts (and the help of your manual).
The more you can learn about your car, how you use it, and what is going to make the most difference, the better. With the help of the cars manual, some google forums and some time you can keep your car in excellent condition without having to pay out every few months.
Look at it this way. If you take care of your car in the proper way, your vehicle is much more likely to look after you for years to come – is it worth letting it fall by the wayside?