Cars need regular maintenance to run well – and that’s especially true if you’re not the most mechanically-inclined person.
As a car owner, looking after your car is crucial. It isn’t only to keep it in good condition, but also to ensure your (and your passengers’) safety on the road. Taking care of your car can also save you money in the long run.
Whether you have a brand new car or have been driving the same one for years, read on for some helpful advice for looking after your car.
1. Check your engine oil
How often should you change your car’s oil? The answer is – it depends on the vehicle.
Most experts agree that it needs to be changed every 4,000 and 8,000 kilometres, but if you’re not sure when this will happen for your car, we recommend getting an oil filter replaced every six months instead.
If you’re still unsure if your car already needs an oil change, try checking it about once a month.
Here’s how to do it:
- Start your engine (make sure you’re on level ground). Let it run for a few minutes.
- Turn the car’s engine off to let it cool down a little bit.
- Open up the hood and find the dipstick.
- Remove the dipstick. Wipe it clean with a towel.
- Insert the dipstick back.
- Pull it out again.
Take note of two things:
One, the oil level. The dipstick has markings that tell you if the oil level is low or high. If the level is on the low mark or lower, remedy it by adding the correct oil grade for your car.
Two, the colour of the engine oil. It should be a yellow colour with a tinge of brown. The colour can range from light to dark – never black. If it comes out dark, dirty, and thick, it probably needs to be replaced.
2. Check your tyres
An underinflated or flat tyre can increase fuel consumption and make driving less safe. Plus, they’ll wear out faster.
Note that the car’s tyres may need different pressures on each side. Check your car’s manual to know exactly how much tyre pressure is needed for your car.
It also helps to rotate the tyres to make sure they wear evenly – which also means you’re getting more life out of them. Do this regularly so the vehicle won’t experience unnecessary wear on its wheels or rims.
Another good idea is to keep an eye on the grooves of the wheels. Ideally, the grooves should have a depth of 1.5mm – if it goes below this, then it’s time for a replacement.
Lastly, always – and we mean always – have a spare tyre ready! Besides being prepared for emergencies, it’s a good idea if you use your spare wheel on a regular basis, too (yes, include that spare tyre in the rotation). Spreading wear over 5 tyres instead of 4 can further extend their life.
3. Check your car battery
A dead battery can be frustrating and costly – especially during emergencies!
Most people don’t really worry about their car batteries like they do with the car’s engine oil or tyres. But remember, your car battery is a crucial part of the machine that keeps your vehicle running.
Car batteries generally last for 4 to 5 years, but this can be significantly reduced if you’re not driving it for long periods or using the car electronics (i.e. airconditioning or sound system) while the engine is off.
It’s best to check the health of your car battery at least twice a year. A quick check that you can do at home is the headlight test.
It’s a pretty straightforward process – turn on your engine and headlights. Rev your engine and take note of the brightness of the headlights. If your lights start to dim as you accelerate the engine, it could be a sign that your battery might be running off.
You can also use a multimeter to check the voltage. The car battery should have a charge of 12.5 volts or higher. If lower than this, it might be a sign of depleting battery life.
4. Change your air filter regularly
Your vehicle’s air filter is important for safe operation. Make sure you replace it at appropriate intervals to maintain performance and prevent dirt build-up that might interfere with fuel efficiency or driveability.
If you’ve driven more than 15,000 kilometres since the last time your air filter was changed, consider getting a new one.
When your air filter gets dirty, it can affect the entire emission control system of your car.
The result? Poor spark plug performance. This could be a serious problem as your car might not be able to start up properly, especially in the winter.
An obvious sign that your spark plug is sluggish is an increase in engine noise, so make sure to have your air filter checked if you notice anything unusual.
5. Stick to your regular car maintenance schedule
By having your vehicle checked by a professional regularly, you’re able to detect any potential issues your car might have. And what’s better than fixing these issues?
A professional auto mechanic can give you advice on what to do to make sure your car’s health is at its peak. This can reduce future repair costs, and most importantly, unexpected breakdowns (nothing worse than getting stranded on the side of the road!).
A once-in-a-while check won’t cut it – you have to stick to your regular car maintenance schedule. This depends on the type of car you have. Peugeot Perth recommends undergoing preventive maintenance every year or every 10,000 to 20,000 kilometres, whichever comes first.
These maintenance checks should focus on checking your car’s power steering fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and oil level and health.
They should also check the brake pads, any flat spots or uneven wear of tyres, and steering wheel alignment.
Note that your schedule depends on your car model, so make sure to check with your dealer to know when your car is due for checking.
6. Keep your car clean.
Your car is a reflection of you, so why not keep it looking its best?
Keep the car exterior shiny and clean through regular washes. You can also spot clean dust or fingerprints by wiping them out with moist wipes as necessary.
For your car interior, a quick vacuum can make all the difference! Apart from vacuuming, you should also shake out the mats regularly (you’ll be surprised how much dirt sits on those things).
And don’t forget your cup holders. They may look like a functional trash can but those cup bottom build-ups can get gross over time. Keep your cup holders clean by simply throwing away all drinks as soon as you stop. Keep some cotton rags or wipes to keep those holders clean all the time.
Or better yet, have a trash can ready inside your vehicle so you don’t keep the small pieces on the cup holders.
As with any machine, routine maintenance is the key to keeping your car running smoothly.
Regular maintenance checks should include checking the engine oil, rotating your tyres, and replacing air filters when needed. You should also keep an eye out for any warning signs that may indicate potential problems such as difficulty in starting up or issues with the headlights.
Having a professional check these things regular should help your car be in tip-top shape for longer!