The average age of cars on the road is eight years. There are some simple steps you can take to give your car the best chance of lasting.
Maintain your car’s battery
If you don’t use your car for long periods of time, the battery will degrade and go flat. Using a trickle charger to keep the battery topped up, if it is left in a garage for an extended period of time. If your battery does go flat, having to jump start it puts additional strain on the battery and may damage the engine management system. To look after your battery without a trickle charger, you should try to drive your car at least once a week if possible.
Change filters regularly
Your car’s oil filter and air filter become clogged over time, so it’s important to renew them regularly. They should be replaced as part of your service. You can often prolong the life of the air filter by washing it too. Consult your handbook for advice on filter cleaning. Cheap, poor quality filters could damage your engine in the longer term.
Top up fluids regularly
Fluids are your car’s way of surviving. Checking your engine oil once a fortnight by checking the dipstick. Dark, dirty oil should be replaced. However, diesel engine oil accumulates soot as part of the normal combustion process, so dark coloured oil isn’t a cause for alarm with a diesel car. Other areas to check fortnightly include the coolant. You should top it up with 50% distilled water and 50% antifreeze.
Check your tyres
Tyres are arguably your car’s most important safety feature. It’s no exaggeration to say that checking them regularly, about once a week, could save your life. Under inflated tyres will also increase fuel consumption, so keep them topped up to the recommended pressures.
Avoid driving over potholes
Potholes wreak havoc on suspension, tyres and exhaust. The hard edges found on poorly maintained roads can lead to bulges, tread separation and in some cases they can deflate tyres. When driving over holes, suspension can become misaligned and shocks damaged. Deeper holes may even scrape the catalytic converters leading to holes. Where possible, it’s best to take roads with smoother surfaces to avoid wear and tear.
Don’t run low on fuel
When you run low on petrol your fuel pump will draw on air, debris and sediment found in the bottom of the fuel tank. The unwanted materials can clog the system and eventually corrode your pump and filters. This can potentially block fuel and prevent your car from starting. Keeping fuel levels high can avoid an expensive repair bills further down the road.
Check your warning lights immediately
It can be easy to ignore warning lights, especially when there doesn’t appear to be any difference in the performance of your car. However, leaving problems unchecked could mean a premature end for your car. Your engine, braking and power steering lights indicate some of the most urgent faults. These could lead to expensive repair bills or worse, an unsafe driving situation. While brake and steering problems will reduce your control of the car, the engine light could turn on for a number of reasons. It’s best to get anything you’re unsure about checked right away by the experts.
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