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Reasons To Look After Your Vehicle

Average age of a car at the time of scrappage is about 14 years, while the average age of cars in the road is more like eight years.

However, don’t be concerned you can take a few simple actions you can take to ensure your car has the best chance of reaching its golden years.

With the assistance from RAC patrol ambassador, Chris Burgess, we’ve compiled some easy-to-follow guidelines to help reduce running costs and keep your car in good condition for many years to come.

1. Keep your car’s battery charged

If you don’t use your car for long times, your battery is likely to wear out and become to a flat state.

You might want to consider using a trickle charger to ensure that the battery topped-up if your car is kept in garage for a long time, or use a battery conditioner if the battery appears to hold less charge than usual.

If your battery is flat, then having to jump-start a car adds additional stress to the battery and may end up damaging the engine management system and other electronic components that are delicate: A double-whammy of more wear.

In order to maintain your battery with no trickle charger, you should make an effort to drive your vehicle every week at least If you can, especially in winter.

2. Change filters frequently

The filter for your car’s oil and air filter become clogged over time, which is why it’s crucial to keep them in good condition.

They are recommended to replace them as part of scheduled car maintenance, however these are fairly easy tasks and especially an air filter swap – so you might like to give it an try yourself and save money in the process. You can also hire a mobile mechanic to complete an appointment from the comfort in your own driveway.

It is possible to extend the lifespan of your air filter by cleaning it, too. Refer to your manual for guidance on changing and cleaning your filter Be sure to use genuine parts. Poor quality, cheap filters could damage your engine in the long term.

3. It is a smooth drive… all of the time.

Mechanical sympathy is something that you should practice at all times. That means using the controls of your car and understanding how it functions.

Doing so will reduce wear on the components and help the most of your fuel. Simple things like using your steering wheel, the gearbox and pedals at a comfortable speed are important as is looking ahead in order to lessen the need for sudden braking.

In the event that you never rev your engine at a full rate carbon deposits may build up and foul the valves, intake manifold and other components, reducing effectiveness and possibly causing a misfire.

You should therefore enable your engine to the redline at a minimum of every few hundred miles – but only when the engine is warm and you’re driving on quiet roads.

Diesel cars could also face issues with blocked diesel particulate filters (DPFs), which are made to trap harmful emissions from exhaust.

A longer trip on the motorway every month will aid in clearing the roads of.

4. Make use of the air conditioning

‘Use it or perish’ a catchy phrase which could be applied to air conditioning.

Air-con systems will leak refrigerant gas over time even if they’ren’t frequently used.

The option of turning off the air conditioning may help save on fuel, but you could be left with an expense for the gassing of your air conditioner instead.

And yes, that means sometimes letting your vents go cold during winter, too.

5. Replace spark plugs as well as leads.

As cars get more complicated, drivers are understandably less inclined to do their own maintenance.

However, changing spark plugs and high-tension leads is a easy task you can perform yourself to improve your engine’s performance.

Keep in mind that you should always consult your manual prior to driving and follow the maintenance schedule even.

When inspecting the spark plug, ensure the following:

an electrolyte with a light brown hue and the insulator
There are no indications of melting
no signs of wear or deposits.

A spark plug in poor state could mean that it has worn over time and needs replacing or could indicate the condition of your engine.

If your instrument is new and has created significant gaps between the electrode and the insulator, then it may be a sign the engine isn’t performing well. If this is the case, you need to contact your local garage.

If the leads have cracks or are showing signs of excessive wear, they need to be replaced. We recommend using a trusted garage to carry this out However, if you have the experience and believe in yourself, you may be able to do it yourself as provided you adhere to the guidelines in your manual for your vehicle.

This isn’t the case for diesel cars since they don’t have spark plugs.

6. Refill your fluids often

Fluids are the lifeblood of your vehicle and not replenishing them could have devastating consequences.

Check the oil in your engine once a fortnight when you open the bonnet (with your vehicle standing on a level surface) and taking off the dipstick. Wipe it clean with some rags and give it an oil bath.

If it is able to come back and the level of oil is supposed to be between the markers of the minimum and maximum with a light yellowy-brown colour if your vehicle has an engine powered by petrol.

Dark, dirty oils should be replaced. Diesel engine oil can build up soot as part of the normal combustion process. Therefore, dark-colored oil shouldn’t be cause for alarm with the diesel vehicle.

Other areas to be inspected every fortnight include the reservoir for coolant, which you must top-up by adding 50% distilled water and 50% antifreeze and the windshield washer bottle.

We recommend a shop-bought screenwash for this purpose.

Don’t be tempted to use washing-up liquid as it contains salt and other additives which could harm paintwork.

7. Make sure you check your tyres

Tyres are arguably your car’s most important safety feature and it’s not an exaggeration to suggest that checking them on a regular basis at least once per week and could be lifesaving.

A tyre that is not properly inflated can increase the amount of fuel consumed, so make sure you keep them topped up to the pressures that are recommended in the owner’s manual of your car to reduce your expenses.

Keep in mind that the pressures of tyres can differ for front and rear tyres. Some experts suggest rotating your tyres (i.e. swapping the fronts for the rear and in reverse) in order to balance out wear and increase the lifespan of your tyres.

In the interest for safety we would recommend using the tyres that are least worn on the rear axle, as losing grip on the front (understeer) can be more manageable to control than a rear-end sliding (oversteer).

8. Follow the schedule of service

Regular servicing is vital to ensure that your vehicle is in top condition and extend the life of your vehicle.

Service intervals are based on mileage or the time spent each year. It is a once-a-year or every 10,000 miles, for example.

Check the handbook to find the date your vehicle is due for a check-up and what repairs are required.

Most modern cars come with warning lights that are on the dashboard to inform you that maintenance is needed, too.

It is generally recommended to consider a’minor annual service and a major service every three or four years.

A minor maintenance includes replacing the oil and filter, and replacing other fluids if necessary.

Depending on the car and its mileage, a significant service may also cover replacing the spark plugs, air filter and cambelt.

The list of tasks in even a minor service can be overwhelming, but each should include checks for oil and fluid leaks, tyre pressures and condition of exhaust emissions that are excessive, brake wear, and the correct operation of the steering, gearbox, clutch, suspension, lights, wipers and the horn.

You can be on the right the right track with your vehicle’s maintenance and save money by purchasing a MOT or service plans to split the cost in two terms.

Head on over to this car blog for similar articles…

9. Be sure to keep it covered

A lot of us have garages, but how many actually use them? Okay, let’s rephrase that what percentage actually store cars in them?

As cars grow larger and more resistant to corrosion, the majority are kept on a driveway or on a road, garages in effect becoming an extension to the loft or garden shed.

Well, consider this your reason to clear your space. The parking of your vehicle in a garage helps keep it dry, clean and safe, decreasing the dangers of accidents or theft, as well as vandalism.

It can even cut the cost of car insurance, too. If you don’t own the benefit of a garage, consider purchasing a premium car cover in lieu – especially if park your car for extended periods of time.

10. Maintain the weight in check.

Automobile manufacturers are always looking at ways to reduce the vehicle’s weight to increase the miles per gallon and to satisfy the emission standards.

It makes a lot of sense for you to keep the weight carried by your car to a minimum whenever possible.

Being overweight is sure to reduce the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. It also puts additional wear and tear on your tyres, brakes and suspension.

The best solution is to remove any unnecessary objects out of the car.

Begin with the pockets on the doors and the glovebox and then check under the seat for drinks bottles or toys that might be straying around.

Moving to the boot, clear out everything you don’t require. Just remember to leave the toolkit, the jack and the lock wheel nut key for the case of an emergency.

It’s important to have a spare breakdown tool your vehicle in case you’re fortunate enough to have it fail to repair.

11. Have you had your car sealed against rust

Modern automobiles are extremely resistant to rust but corrosion of the metal is the number-one killer of automobiles built in the 1990s or prior to.

After it’s set in, many simply won’t be economical to repair.

If you see rust spots on your car, don’t wait for them to develop – at the minimum, you should cover the exposed bodywork with the paint to be touched up before having it professionally and resprayed.

Applying a stone-deflecting material to the exterior of your vehicle could prevent paintwork damage in the first place.

It’s also possible to have the chassis properly rust-proofed which means filling the cavities with a waxy material designed to prevent water ingress.

Similar to the rest of the advice on this page, it could be a savings over the long haul.

12. Beware of the temptation to alter

Modifying your car’s engine is likely to reduce its reliability and shorten its life.

Tuning the engine for more power puts extra strain on other parts of the engine, such as brakes, if you drive more rapidly as a result.

Stiffer, sportier suspension creates additional wear on the frames, subframes, and bushes.

Keep in mind that the money spent on modifications probably won’t boost the value of your vehicle.

In fact, the reverse is frequently the case. Since depreciation can be the largest expense in running a vehicle, reducing the value of resales shouldn’t be taken lightly.

13. Avoid driving over potholes and rough tracks

Potholes can cause havoc to tires, suspension and exhaust.

The sharp edges that are found on roads that are not maintained properly can cause sidewall bumps, tread separation, and in some cases , they could also deflate tyres. If you drive on roads with crater-like grooves, suspension can become misaligned and shocks may be damaged.

The deeper holes could even scratch catalytic converters leading to holes and loss of power.

When you can, it is best to take roads with smoother surfaces to avoid the wear and tear.

14. You can use your brakes to slow down speed, rather than shifting gears down

Engine braking, or shifting gears in order to reduce speed, can harm your drivetrain, particularly the clutch and transmission.

The use of your gears for brakes when travelling, especially at higher speeds, can shorten the lifespan that your motor. The damage could be worse if you shift down more than one gear.

Your brake pedals are your best allies in preventing damage to the gearbox. They should be your first point of contact when you are trying to slow down your speed.

15. Keep your car clean

We all know people who don’t wash their cars (and perhaps you’re one of them! ) However, keeping your car clean isn’t all about vanity: it can significantly prolong the life of your car, too.

Grit accumulates in moving parts as well as the chassis, which causes accelerated damage and the possibility of corrosion. Bird droppings can play havoc with paintwork especially in winter, when road salt can be especially destructive (so be sure to know what to do when stuck behind one! ).

Automated car washes are made of tough brushes that could leave scratches that are fine – and they can miss bits too. While a hand wash or DIY project is typically considerably more complete.

You’ll require a pre-rinse prior to taking on a deeper cleaning. Remember to use a suitable cleaning solution rather than washing-up liquid before drying your car using an emollient cloth.

A polish every year will give an extra layer of protection and help to stop the spread of rust.

It’s also crucial to keep the interior of your car clean with the use of a microfibre towel and to get rid of any crumbs and dirt off floor mats.

Spraying a protective coating on the dashboard plastics reduces the chance of cracking or discolouration. Putting the sunshade on the windscreen on bright days helps too.

16. Do not place your foot on the clutch and placing your hand on the gearstick

Some drivers tend to operate their vehicle with one’s feet sitting on the pedal of their car. This causes the clutch release bearing towards the clutch cover, leading to friction that is unnecessary. In time, the clutch could wear down prematurely.

Similarly, it’s tempting to hold your hand over your hand-held gear when you change gears but this puts pressure to the fork of the selector and other internal components. The friction increases wear and wear and tear on the gearbox.

Get into the habit of moving your hands onto the steering wheel and placing your left foot in the footwell.

17. Make sure you don’t have fuel insufficient.

When you run low on fuel, your fuel pump is going to draw on air, dust and sediment found in the the tank of fuel in an attempt to power the car.

The undesirable materials could clog the system and eventually corrode your filters and pump which could block fuel, making it impossible for your car to start.

Owners of diesel cars must be especially cautious about low fuel levels as the powerful injectors in their engines draw massive amounts of oxygen into their system. This may stop the engine from turning.

Maintaining high levels of fuel can help you avoid costly repairs further down the line.

18. Do not skimp on components

Manufacturers drive millions of miles and invest billions in the development of research to make sure their cars are as reliable as they possibly can. So why put that at risk with substandard “pattern” parts so you can save some dollars?

Utilizing original parts can save you money in the long-run as it keeps your car in the roadway. When it comes to vintage cars the use of original parts is crucial to the future value.

Giving your car the best also applies to the fluids you use.

Find the recommended oil for your engine in the handbook . Also particularly if you own an automobile that performs well and requires premium fuel (e.g. super unleaded) and utilize it. That’s what the car was created and designed for.