Car care and maintenance tips – part II

Washing carTaking care of your car is not just about cleaning it once a month, and there is much more to consider when owning and maintaining a car to ensure it stands the test of time.

You may also need to sell the car one day, and the only way to ensure you get a great price is to create a list of routines that are performed regularly – on the interior as well as the exterior!

After you’ve read part I of our guide on how to maintain and take care of your car, here’s some more handy tips to help improve the life span of your car –

Don’t drive aggressively

Driving too fast
Brake pads will wear quickly if you drive aggressively.

Driving aggressively in any way, like accelerating quickly or driving fast, will result in the car requiring repairs further down the line. This is especially said if you drive aggressively in really hot or cold weather. For example, brake pads will get worn quicker as you are having to brake more often and more sharply. Your engine is also under a lot more stress and could cause permanent damage. Finally, your tyres will wear down much quicker.

Try not to keep your steering wheel in the full turn position for too long, as it could eventually damage the power steering pump.

Most of the wear and tear your car suffers is during the first few minutes of driving, so it’s important to consider keeping short trips down to a minimum. Ideally, try to only use your car for fairly lengthy journeys.

When should I fill up with petrol?

Don’t fill up if you see the fuel tanker at the garage. When the tanker pumps the fuel to the underground tank, sediment can be created which can clog up your filters and fuel injectors. This could cause your car to under perform and may also force your car to require repairs after a long period of time.

Make sure you choose a great car insurance company

If the worst should happen, then it’s vital you know the car will be in safe hands and will be repaired to the very best standard. Double check with the insurance company that they will always use parts from the original manufacturer.

Keep a log of your mileage

Make a note of your mileage so you can see your fuel consumption.

It’s important to make sure your car is performing as it should, and that your fuel consumption is reasonable in accordance with the advertised specifications. Keep track of the date you put fuel in your car, the amount you put in, and the mileage you get. If you start to see a drop in your fuel economy then you should go and see your local garage to find out if there are any problems.

If there aren’t any problems, then it could be a good indication that you are driving the car differently, and if you are not happy with the fuel consumption then you might want to drive a little more carefully and get the most out of your car.

Protect your carpets with floor mats

Every time you get in your car you are transferring all that dirt from your shoes onto your carpets. So it’s important to have mats and protect your carpets not only from dirt, but from wear and tear. After a few years your carpets can easily wear down and leave holes, so carpet mats will ensure this doesn’t happen.

Rubber car matRubber mats are usually the best ones to get as they prevent all dirt and water from seeping through, and are also much easier to clean as you can blast them with a garden hose every now and again.

Carpet mats tend to look a lot nicer, but our advice would be to avoid white or cream mats as they will be too difficult to maintain and keep clean in the long run. They will look great for about a month before they turn brown or black through muck, and need to be constantly shampooed.

Again, consider cleaning your mats every time you wash the outside of the car and vacuum your interior. Try to make it a part of your ritual cleaning routine and don’t miss them out!

Repair your weather stripping

If you notice any wear and tear on your stripping then it’s important to have it repaired or replaced straight away. If you don’t, then you might find the car allows rain to seep through, and could damage your interior.

There are simple and cheap products out there that you can buy to prevent damage, and to also patch up and repair any minor problems. If you are in any doubt as how to do this then don’t hesitate to contact your local garage for advise. For just a few pounds you could easily have your strips repaired and prevent any future problems that could prove more costly.

Convertible cars are usually at the most risk for these types of problems due to the way the roof is designed to come off. Leaks are very common with these types of cars so you may want to buy some extra protection right from the start, and even do some research into the cars make and model to see if anyone else has had any problems and what they did to help.

Cracked light covers

If one of your light covers is cracked then you need to tape it up quickly before any water gathers in there – which could cause a lot of costly damage. However, putting some tape over the crack is only a short term fix and you must have it replaced at your local garage as soon as possible.

Fix any small chips in your windshield

No matter how small the chip may be, you must take it to your local windshield repair centre. It won’t cost a great deal, and some insurance companies even offer it for free as part of the policy.

If you don’t have it repaired, and fast, the chip could spread and you may end up having to pay for a full windshield which will cost a lot more. If the chip is directly in your line of sight as the driver, then you must have it repaired immediately for obvious safety reasons.

Washer fluid for your windscreen

Putting anti-freeze in car
Always use anti-freeze instead of water as freezing can damage your pump.

Always use anti-freeze rather than plain old water from your tap, especially in the winter so it doesn’t freeze. If you use water and it freezes then you could damage your pump system when you try to use it.

You also need to be careful not to keep trying to put the fluid onto your window if you’ve ran out, or have nearly ran out, as you may also damage the pump if there is not enough fluid in the tank.

Check your wheel-well splash guards

These protective guards prevent water and dirt from spraying up into the engine compartment, so it’s important to check them regularly and make sure there are no rips or tears.

Sometimes they can fall off and you may not spot it for a while, so try to have a quick inspection each week to make sure they are all present. You can even buy larger mudguards which do a better job, which is definitely worth considering if you live in a rural area with wet conditions.

Always keep the caps on your tyres

If you lose one of the caps from your tyres then you might end up with a slow puncture if the tyre valve is leaking. Those small and seemingly unimportant caps prevent dirt and dust from getting into the valve and possibly damaging it. So if you do lose any then get them replaced quickly. They will literally set you back pennies, and could save you the trouble of a new tyre.

Buy a proper alloy wheel cleaner

Cleaning alloy wheels
Use a specialist alloy wheel cleaner to make them shine.

As your tyres are directly in the line of fire when it comes to road dirt, it’s important to consider buying some proper cleaning fluid for your alloy wheels. It may be OK to occasionally use soap and water, but now and again you are going to need something a little stronger to shift the dirt.

Alloy wheels that don’t get cleaned properly will scratch and become corroded over time. You will notice that if an alloy wheel is not cleaned regularly it tends to hold onto the dirt it’s picked up, and may not be easily cleaned. An alloy wheel that’s kept cleaned each week will have no problems in keeping its shine, and don’t forget how important the look of the car is when it comes to selling it.

Check your brake fluid

Try to check your brake fluid at least once a month, and wipe away any dirt from the master cylinder lid before you come to open it. If the brakes do require some more fluid, then don’t forget to check the owner’s manual for the recommended type.

Use your air con in winter and not just in the summer

Air con buttonMost people only use the air con in the summer when it’s really hot, but it’s important to also use it a few times during the winter to prevent the system from seizing. Repairing the air conditioning in a car isn’t too expensive, but for the sake of turning it on in winter a few times, you not only save yourself some money but also the hassle of having it repaired in the garage.

Leave a comment