Looking for easy car care tips… for those of us who don’t know (or care to know) a thing about cars. Here are my simple tips for taking care of your car, even when cars just aren’t your thing.
When it comes to owning and maintaining a car, my track record ain’t great.
First, there was the white Ford Laser that my brother, at the wise old age of 21, I thought it would look better when spray-painted lime green. Surprise: it didn’t. Kermit, as this poor Laser came to be known, suffered an engine failure after I failed to top up its oil. Then, there was the 1982 Ford Falcon. Older than any of my friends’ cars, and reluctant to ever get moving, this old fella we dubbed ‘Gramps’. Sadly, Gramps missed out on his dirty thirties as I kept missing his services. Then, a few years ago, I got a flashy Nissan Pulsar. That died last year, just days after I ignored a funny smell coming from the air conditioner.
You’re probably wondering, why on earth take advice from someone responsible for the premature demise of not one, but three, functioning (if old or tragically coloured) cars? Well, I’ve just forked out hard-earned cash for a new one, and I will not be making the same mistakes. And I’m here to help you avoid them, too. Here are my simple car care tips for taking care of your car, even when cars just aren’t your thing.
When any part of your car starts to clunk, whine, squeak or squeal, it might be tempting to turn up Jay Z and pretend you heard nothing. Well, if your car is making noises, I have news for you, son, you got 99 problems… Seriously, when your car is trying to tell you something, listen. Noises usually indicate problems, and many problems can seriously damage your car, not to mention put your safety at risk.
So, car care tip one is simple: if you hear something off, book in to see your mechanic right away. Same goes for when you see, feel or smell something off, like warning lights, a pull to one side when you’re driving, or, yes, a funny smell from the air conditioner.
Note that if a warning light tells you your engine is overheating, you should stop driving immediately and call a tow truck. The longer you drive with an overheating engine, the more damage you will cause to it.
Driving with flatter tyres can lead to a host of costly mechanical problems. Keeping your tyres inflated to the right pressure ensures better handling, plus it’s safer and more fuel-efficient.
The good news is if you can navigate to a petrol station just fine, you can easily keep your tyres in good nick, too. Most petrol stations will have a self-service air compressor you can use for free. An air compressor looks a bit like a post box with a hose attached. Somewhere on the compressor should specify ‘Air’. If all you see is ‘POST’, then you’ve likely found an actual post box.
On the air compressor, you’ll have the option to select your PSI. PSI is a unit of pressure, and the recommended PSI varies from car to car. You can find your own car’s recommended PSI on a label inside one of the front doors. Usually, it’s between 30 and 32 PSI. Once you know your PSI, set the compressor to that PSI, remove the valve caps from your tyres, and attach the hose. Try to do this when you refuel, at least once every two weeks.
Motor oil keeps your car’s engine running smoothly and prevents it from overheating. Running your car without oil is extremely damaging and often will result in you very quickly having no car (refer to my experiences above).
That’s why it’s important you get into the habit of checking your oil regularly. Fortunately, it’s simple to do. After you turn your car’s engine off, let it cool for five minutes or so. Make sure you’ve parked on level ground. Then, pop the hood, and locate your engine’s ‘dipstick’. (A quick Google search will show you what they look like.) Pull the dipstick out, wipe it clean with a paper towel, and put it back in again. Now, you’re ready to measure the oil level. Pull the dipstick back out again and note where the oil reaches on the dipstick; it’ll be marked to indicate proper levels.
Cars do consume a bit of oil, so if you’re needing to top up your oil every now and then, it’s usually nothing to worry about. However, if you find you’re topping up frequently, our car tip here is that it’s probably time to get your car checked for external or internal leaks. Remember that cars should never leak oil, if there is oil on the ground in the garage, get it checked.
One of the best ways to ensure a well-maintained car is through having a professional regularly service it for you. At least twice a year or more regular if driving high kilometres ( more than 20 000km/year). This shouldn’t replace the above car care tips, though, but simply add to them.
Routine car servicing ensures your car receives a complete and regular health check-up, where a mechanic can assess and manage the many aspects that you, and many people, don’t have the skills, knowledge, or equipment to take care of. As with your own health, preventative measures are always better than a cure.
To help with maintenance costs and save you money, Alpha Finance has a range of service providers that can save you money. From tires to servicing we have partners that can help ease your servicing requirements. Talk to us today to find out more about these car care tips.