Top tips for looking after your car

It’s one thing to buy a car – new or used – but the responsibility doesn’t stop there. How do you keep your newly acquired vehicle in tip top running order? Here are a few pointers for you, to help you keep your car running well for as long as possible.

You are probably not a mechanic – and there are certain vehicle maintenance tasks that are best left to a qualified mechanic. However, there are some common sense things that you can do to increase the serviceable lifetime of your car, and help you to save money on those sometimes expensive repairs.

First of all – ensure that you have an owners manual for your vehicle. If you have bought a used vehicle, and the manual is missing, ask your local dealer or download it in pdf format from a reputable website. Secondly – when in doubt, read the manual. You will find all sorts of useful information here, from recommended tyre pressures for various loads, to details on fuel and oil and so on.

Always make sure that you equip your car with the best tyres that you can afford, and then make sure that you maintain them on a regular basis by checking the tyre pressure (when the tyres are cold), ensuring that your tyres are rotated and balanced every 10000 km and that the tyre tread is above the minimum specified by law (1.5mm). Don’t forget about your spare tyre!

Although your oil and fluid levels will be checked at each regular service, it’s a good idea to do this yourself, at regular intervals between services. The brake and radiator reservoirs are the clearish plastic containers under the bonnet – and they have a line indicating the optimal fluid level. The oil level can be checked using the dipstick (check your owner’s manual). The dipstick is a long rod with a coloured handle at the end, that you can pull out all the way from the bottom of the engine block.

Another item that you should check on regularly, is your battery. You can check these levels by unscrewing the caps on top of the battery and making sure the water level inside is just touching the ends of the caps. If you need to top it up, use only demineralised water, and remove the two power cables (black first) before you do so, taking care not to overfill the battery and spill acidy water everywhere.

If you are not keen on any of these tasks – look for a service station where they can assist you. It will really help to keep your car on the road for longer and also reduce any cost of an expensive repair that possibly could have been avoided.