7 important car care tips

September 5, 2019 1:05 am | Peter Warren

Taking proper care of your car, ute, SUV or van is critical to not only keeping it on the road for years to come, but also avoiding potentially major repair costs. With that in mind, it's vital to know exactly what you should be doing to ensure your vehicle remains in top shape for tens of thousands of kilometres to come.

It all starts with preventive maintenance – often with the help of a trusted servicing department – including the following methods for staying on top of any issues.

1) Make sure your tyres are properly inflated

An improperly inflated tyre can pose major problems for any vehicle. If the pressure is too low, they carry a greater risk of going flat and also create drag on the vehicle that makes your engine work harder, reducing your fuel efficiency. If the pressure is too high, the tyre will bounce more as you drive along, doing a number on your suspension and significantly reducing its own life cycle by wearing out more quickly in the middle.

For these reasons, you should check your owner's manual to see the exact air pressure to which your tyres should be inflated. Some people may inflate to the pressure printed on the side of the tyre itself, but that number is typically the maximum recommended pressure, rather than what your specific vehicle needs.

2) Check your fluids at least once a month

As you drive your vehicle on a daily basis, it will use up the various fluids it needs to keep running strong. For that reason, you should always strive to monitor how much you have left, as any deficiency could put you at risk for a breakdown. As such, you need to go under the bonnet and make sure you have the proper levels of motor oil, brake fluid and so on. Often, simply adding more to the system when you have a shortage is all you'll need to do – and doesn't take a lot of technical know-how or tools.

However, you should also keep an eye on your odometer to identify when you should get an oil change, but that should happen at least every few months, based on your driving habits.

3) Keep an eye on your battery

Much like your vehicle's fluids, a battery isn't intended to last forever, so if you don't know when it was last replaced (if ever), you might need to swap it out for a new one. It's not always easy to tell when a battery should be changed out, but the general rule of thumb is every three to five years. If you're not sure of whether you fall into that window, having a look at the battery to see if it's corroding, cracked or bulging irregularly will tell you when it's time to replace your current one.

4) Get it serviced regularly

No one will know the way your vehicle "feels" better than you do, so if things start to feel a bit off, it's time to get it checked out. Part and parcel with all of the above may be the need for an expert opinion and some minor, preventive fixes that will help you avoid the need for bigger and more expensive repairs. If there's a problem, a mechanic will be able to recommend some parts to replace as well.

5) When you see a new light on the dash, check your owner's manual

You should always keep a close eye on your dashboard for any warning lights that come on. This usually only happens if something is seriously amiss, and is an indicator that you should get the vehicle checked out immediately. If you're not sure what the illuminated symbol on the dash means, your owner's manual will give you plenty of information about how to react appropriately.

6) Get your wheels aligned

If you notice more shaking than you're used to as you drive on a highway or side street, that might be an indication that your wheels aren't aligned properly. Something as simple as a wheel that's just a few centimetres out of alignment can create major problems for your vehicle. For one thing, this can make it far more difficult to control, but also leads to uneven wear on your tyres and impact your vehicle's suspension.

7) Always drive with caution

Another way you may cause undue wear and tear on your vehicle without even realizing it is by accelerating quickly, speeding and stopping hard. All these activities will do a number on your engine and brakes, in addition to increasing accident risk. Consequently, it's always a good idea to drive more defensively and take it easy on both the gas and brake pedals when you do. A little extra caution here could significantly reduce your need for repairs.

If you haven't had your vehicle looked over in a while, get in touch with the car care experts at Peter Warren Automotive today.