Vehicle maintenance is one of those things that most of us have been guilty of overlooking at some point or another. Unless you’re a hardcore gearhead there have probably been times when you missed a scheduled service or oil change.
Given that your car is both a form of transport and even a means of making some extra cash, it would be extremely foolish for you to neglect your car’s health.
Failing to maintain your car can leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere or being hit with a stack of costly repair bills. In fact, keeping your car in good nick can be seen as an investment of sorts that pays for itself on the long-term.
Whether you’re simply not a car enthusiast or just simply mechanically inept, here are some basic car maintenance tips that can potentially save you tons in the future.
1. Warm up your car the right way
A common misconception amongst even the most die-hard car enthusiasts is that you should allow your car to idle until it warms up on cold days.
This may have been true during the days when cars still used carburetors, but with today’s modern cars experts recommend letting a car warm-up for no more than 30 seconds in order to get the oil flowing.
Ideally, you’ll want to drive your car gently in order to let your vehicle’s components slowly warm up – this means no hard braking, no high revs and definitely no sudden acceleration. The same way they take horses to prep races before the Kentucky Derby, so they can be ready for the real event.
While all of this may seem overly convoluted, you’ll be able to significantly increase your car’s service life whilst also potentially saving thousands on expensive repair bills.
2. Change your engine oil on time
Your car’s engine consists of thousands of individual moving parts and all that motion generates plenty of heat and friction. To keep things running smoothly, a lubricant known as engine oil is used to protect your engine.
Lubricants like engine oil trap dirt and foreign contaminants that could potentially damage the engine. Over time, your oil loses its viscosity which makes it less effective and increases wear and tear on your engine.
Because of this, you should ideally change your engine oil every 5,000 kilometers or 3,000 miles. Despite what some detractors may say, regularly changing your engine oil is essential if you intend to avoid hefty repair costs in the future.
3. Find a good mechanic – and stick to him/her
Mechanics are a dime a dozen, but a good mechanic is absolutely invaluable. Initially, you may be tempted to flit from shop to shop as trying to track down the cheapest mechanic. More often than not however, this approach will only end up with your forking out cash on needless repairs.
Instead, reach out to a mechanic in your area who you’re able to build a rapport with. You’ll want to deal with the actual owner of the establishment instead of his staff.
Garage owner-operators usually have more of an incentive to be honest in order to attract repeat customers. By building a business relationship with the owner, you’ll be able to enjoy better quality service.
4. Do your own research
If you’re reading this article, then congratulations, you’ve taken the first step towards responsible vehicle ownership.
With a little bit of effort and some research, you’ll be able to identify common vehicle problems that could potentially save you from spending tons on costly repairs. All too often, customers have fallen prey to dishonest mechanics who intentionally mislead and overcharge their customers for unneeded work.
By showing that you’re at least somewhat mechanically literate, this makes it much more difficult for mechanics to pull a fast one.
5. Keep your car’s fluids topped up
Just like humans, vehicles need to stay hydrated if they are to remain healthy. Thus, you should make it a habit to keep your car’s fluids regularly topped up.
The radiator (a box filled with coolant in your engine bay) prevents your car’s engine from overheating. Failing to keep it filled with radiator coolant will result in your engine blowing up – repair job that costs thousands.
Hence at the end of the week, check on your car’s radiator levels. Warning: never do this when your engine is still hot – the best time would be after your car has been parked overnight. Radiator coolant is the best choice for any car as water (both tap, mineral and distilled) will cause a buildup of sediment in your radiator.
Vehicle ownership is most definitely a costly expense – however, by following these few steps, you can keep your car running smoothly for the foreseeable future.