When you pay your car some attention it will be as safe, reliable, efficient, and good-looking as possible.
Regular servicing and maintenance are vital to ensure all the systems on board have a chance to work correctly. This goes for everything from the seat belts to the brakes, and everything in between.
Find a mechanic you trust to do the major things you’re not comfortable doing yourself, but there are also simple things you should do regularly on any vehicle you use.
Start with obvious things like checking the tyre pressures about once a fortnight – with your own gauge – and looking at their condition when you do so.
Pay attention to all the things that are checked by an inspector once a year in many states, like the condition of the seats and belts, whether the steering feels normal while you’re driving, whether it pulls up in a straight line, whether there are any knocks or other noises that shouldn’t be there.
Never checking your own car is nothing to be proud of. In fact it’s downright negligent in some cases.
In addition to getting a service at the correct intervals, in between them just lift the bonnet once in a while and have a bit of a look for anything that might be coming loose, or frayed, or leaking.
Check the oil and other fluid levels while you’re in there. There are often symbols that will be easy enough to decipher so you can tell what fluid a particular reservoir holds, and a line for minimum and maximum levels.
A word of caution about the brake fluid though. Unless it’s leaking, the “missing” fluid has simply filled the brake calipers as the pads wear (the pistons having to reach further to push them against the discs).
Therefore, never top up the brake fluid without also checking for leaks and the pad wear. Also never ignore a low level of brake fluid; the actual cause for that low level could prove deadly.
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Pay attention to where you get your fuel.
There was one particular servo near where I used to live where I bought it for all the motors I used, from the mower to the cars. I wondered why they were all giving me grief but when I started using a different servo they all soon behaved themselves again. Maybe a coincidence. Then again, maybe not.
Meanwhile, petrol cars don’t seem too bothered with regular short or slow trips, but if you have a diesel be sure to give it a run on the open road occasionally.
It could be an excuse for a day trip somewhere nice.
Also, and especially for a diesel, if you’re the one deciding what gear to use then keep the engine operating near the RPM where it makes peak torque, because that’s roughly where it burns the most efficiently too.
Looking after the body, paint and interior isn’t just for vanity, it’s also for longevity (and resale value).
Make sure organic debris doesn’t clog up drainage channels (which happens pretty quick when you park under the shade of a tree), otherwise you can get rust down in these cavities.
Paint is also the only thing protecting steel, so if any gets exposed oxidation soon follows.
Regularly wash the panels, and the interior, with appropriate products. This reduces the likelihood of stains setting in, and gives you a chance to inspect their condition as you go.
Use a windscreen shade to protect the dash from sun damage. Also use an appropriate treatment for the type of upholstery you have.