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6 Car Maintenance Tips Everyone Should Know

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Not enough of us know how to take proper care of our cars. An automobile may be one of the biggest purchases you make in your life, with perhaps only a house being more expensive. When you add the cost of insurance, tax, and fuel, it becomes even more apparent that we need to take looking after our cars more seriously to protect our investment and prevent excessive maintenance costs.

With just a small amount of know-how, anyone can start to look after their car more effectively and save themselves money on trips to a mechanic. Here are six simple tips that can help any motorist show their car some love.

Keep Your Water Topped Up

Many motorists overlook the importance of water to their car. Your car’s engine will use water as a coolant, piping it around the engine to absorb heat, and then on through the radiator at the front to expel the heat into the air.

When a car starts to overheat on a very long drive or a very hot day, it is usually because the radiator is struggling to deal with the temperature, and this is often from a lack of water. If you are planning a long drive or if summer is approaching, you should top up your radiator water. The radiator will be right at the front of the engine, usually, and has a large cap on top. Only ever attempt to undo this cap when the car and radiator are cool; it is best done when the car has been parked for some time. You can top the radiator up to its recommended level, which will usually be to the brim, with just about any water, though some manufacturers recommend distilled water.

Check Your Tire Tread

The tread on your tires will affect your cars braking distance, and how efficiently it transfers power to the road, so poor tire tread can cost you your life or your money. Poorly maintained tires can also cause problems with a car’s suspension and balancing.

By using your car key, or a house key, you can monitor the tread level on your tires by carefully pressing your key into the groove of the tire and seeing how far it goes up the key. You can also use this to compare tire treads across all four wheels. They should mostly be even, but more wear should be expected on the wheels that are powered by the engine. Most family cars are front-wheel drive and will show more wear on the front tires. Performance cars and coupes are often rear wheel drive. Some cars have power going to all four wheels, and these are often off-road vehicles.

Monitor Oil Levels and Temperature

Your car’s engine oil is like its blood. Clean, warm oil needs to pump around an engine’s valves and gaskets to keep everything running smoothly. This is meant quite literally, as the oil acts as a lubricant on some of an engine’s most active parts. The average car will have at least four piston heads moving in the engine block, rotating a shaft to generate power. These pistons move up and down once every four revolutions of the shaft, and an engine will often idle at two thousand revolutions per minute or more, working up to seven or eight thousand at full power. If these components are poorly lubricated, your engine will begin to wear excessively and overheat.

Make sure you monitor your car’s oil temperature gauge for any excessive heat readings and keep your engine topped up with oil. Getting the right oil for your car and your climate is important, and this in-depth review should help you decide which type of engine oil is right for you and your car.

Read the Manual

Your car’s manual is full of useful information, much more than you may think, and is probably sat there in your glove box now just waiting to be read. Just because it belongs to the car it doesn’t mean it has to stay in it, so don’t be afraid to take it in the house for some bedtime reading. Your car may have a number of interesting features that you haven’t discovered, and there will also be a number of important maintenance tips specific to your vehicle.

Many manuals also contain details on accessories for your car that can help you in emergencies, such as optional first aid kits that fit in spare tire wheel wells, and fire extinguishers that fit in the boot or under the bonnet.

Check Underneath

Many drivers have a couple of regular parking spots, like outside work or at home. Next time you drive up to one, check for patches of oils or fluids. Your car could have a leak somewhere from a damaged seal or loose pipe and be leaking a small amount through the day. Fluid losses can lead to engine wear over time, and a small leak can grow quickly and suddenly. Your car may be leaving signs for you that it is time for a maintenance check, and you aren’t paying attention.

Keep it Clean

A clean car is a happy car. Strange as it may seem, the cleaner a car is the less trouble it causes its owner. It may be that a well-cleaned car is likely owned by a driver that takes as much time to carefully maintain their car as they do to clean it. The more care you give to your car, the more alert you are going to be to the subtle changes that can hint at problems to come. You may notice a crack developing in the corner of the windscreen only when you take the time to clean it carefully. If your car always smells fresh scented, you will quickly notice the smell of burning oil in the engine or spilled fuel.

Your car is one of your most expensive possessions. You should look after it, so it looks after you.


published | April 24, 2019