If you want your car to last, you need to take the plunge and get underneath the hood once in a while. Many car owners are scared of getting their hands dirty and keeping the engine tuned up. Unfortunately, this approach will see your car quickly deteriorate. In fact, you could lose years from the life of your motor if you don’t perform regular maintenance. Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think.
Oil check and change – There are lots of fluid tanks under the hood, but your oil tank is the most important. Healthy oil is essential to the smooth running of the engine. When the oil runs dry, or unhealthy, all the moving parts will start to grind over each other and cause friction. You don’t need us to tell you this is bad news. Of course, you can leave it to the auto repairs experts to change the oil. However, you should certainly be checking the level and quality once every two weeks. Simply use the dipstick to check there is no leakage. You’re looking for a healthy light brown colour. Black oil is bad news.
Clean and replace air filters – Your engine works by mixing fuel with oxygen from the air. To get oxygen, the car must suck in air from the outside of the car. It passes through the air filters to clean it, before mixing with the petrol or diesel. If your air filters are thick with dust and dirt, the oxygen can’t get into the engine fast enough. It means the engine has to work harder, and consume more fuel to make up for it. Simply pull out the air filters and clean them once a month. Replace them if they’re beyond repair!
Replace spark plugs – Replacing a spark plug sounds much scarier than it really is. These small parts are easily unscrewed and refitted. They are essential for the starter motor, providing the spark that ignites the fuel. You can buy them for just a few dollars at any auto shop.
Check the battery – Did you know that battery failure is the single biggest cause of breakdowns on the road? They typically last for two-three years, but when they cut out, they’ll leave you stranded! It’s crucial that you check the remaining charge regularly. It’s especially important in the run up to winter. We push our batteries much harder over winter with lights and heating. Purchase a dedicated voltmeter and make sure you never run too low.
Check the tires – Your tires are more important to the car’s running than you think. It’s vital that you keep them at the correct pressure. Too low and you’ll put extra strain on the engine (imagine riding your bike on a flat tire; exhausting, isn’t it?) Too high, and you risk losing control of the car. Secondly, check the tread depth and wear. If the depth is less than 2mm, you’ll lose grip on the roads. It’s also dangerously close to the legal limit of 1.6mm. If you feel confident, change the tire yourself. If not, take it to the pros.
Taking good care of your car is essential. It will last longer and cost you less at the garage. What are you waiting for?