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Juliet McGuire

8 essential car maintenance tips you shouldn’t ignore

In many parts of the world, owning a car is no longer seen as a luxury, but rather a necessity. The UK is recorded to have a total of about 38 million registered vehicles, with about 81% of its adult population living in a household with a car. The stats in South Africa are obviously quite different, but they certainly are growing. Either way, it is important to ensure that your car is in tip-top shape to carry out your various activities. Regular maintenance of your car is also critical to guaranteeing the safety of you and your passengers. So, how can you keep your car in good condition? Here are some tips you should consider. 

1. Inspect your car often

Always read your car manual first. It may sound pretty obvious, but it is one thing many people fail to do. Performing your vehicle’s maintenance checklist is very simple. The manual contains information you need and when and how these inspections need to be carried out. They are just simple exercises to assess your vehicle’s various components and wouldn’t require a professional unless it is vital to do so. Doing this yourself will expose you to a few things you may not have known and significantly increase your knowledge of your car. 

2. Check tyre pressure 

Your tyre pressure determines the fuel consumption capacity of your vehicle. Low tyre pressure leads to increased fuel consumption and risk of accidents due to lengthier braking distance. Checking your tyre pressure must be carried out weekly. For modern cars with smart systems, you will be notified if your tyre requires attention. The air pressure in your tyres can change significantly depending on the temperature. During winter, cold temperatures can cause tyre pressures to drop by as much as five pounds-per-square-inch (PSI), leading to significant problems if not corrected. 

3. Inspect the tread depth

Your tyre depth is very critical for its performance. Whether in cold, wet, or dry temperatures, you need your tyres to perform. Unlike F1 drivers who are privileged to lightning-fast tyre changes during sudden weather changes, your car tyres are built with broader contact patches to stand all weather conditions. Fortunately, current tyre manufacturers integrate tread wear bars into their compounds to reduce the difficulty in determining whether your tyre treads are deep enough to sustain exceptional ground contact even in wet conditions. You should get new tyres if your current tyres don’t have tread wear indicators.

4. Check your oil levels

Your car engine requires a regular supply of lubricants to run smoothly and reduce any risks of mechanical disintegration of its parts. The oil pressure monitors your oil levels to ensure it is within the engine’s lines and channels. If your car is low on oil, you risk damaging its engine. Excess oil can also cause damage. So be mindful of how much oil you pour into your car engine and ensure they are within the right marks on your vehicle’s dipstick. However, the beeping oil indicator lights do not always mean insufficient oil but could be a leaky circuit, defective pump, or a damaged bearing.

5. Cooling system

Every moving object generates heat, and the oil helps minimize the heat generated during friction to help prevent the engine from overheating. However, when your car is running at a much faster rate, it will require more than oil to dispose of the excess heat. This is where the cooling system comes into play. Maintaining your cooling system is a delicate process and requires professionally trained experts. Although there are several DIY tutorials, you should sit this one out for an expert to properly handle this.

6. The brake systems 

This is an integral part of your car that needs regular checks. The brakes are responsible for slowing or stopping your vehicle from moving, duh! The brake pads and disc cause the friction between your tyres and the road cause the resistance required to perform its function. But every time this action is completed, your brake discs begin to wear, making it imperative to keep your eyes on it. For modern cars, the brake system can be complicated. However, you should check your dashboard for indications of a brake system requiring urgent attention. Keep your brake system components like rims, brake pads, and discs clean for better performance and replace them when necessary.

7. Check your seat belts 

Statistics have proven that thousands of lives are saved each year by seat belts. Buckling up is so simple yet plays such a crucial role in preventing you from getting thrown out of your car during an accident. Wearing seat belts is compulsory in most countries. If an occupant in your vehicle fails to buckle up, the seat belt indicator on your dashboard will keep beeping. However, a faulty indicator will not perform this function, and the results can be lethal. You can visually inspect your fabrics, test the buckle, and check your car’s locking mechanism to ensure it’s in good shape.

8. Warning lights 

The importance of your dashboard warning lights cannot be underestimated. Your car comes with several indicator lights depending on the model and manufacturer. While each brand comes with its own set of indicators, they are easily identifiable with the aid of your car’s manual. The colour of the light shows that a component needs attention but not necessarily an indication of trouble. Here is what each warning light means:

  • Red is an indication of a problem and requires immediate attention. 
  • Yellow/Orange means a component should be checked as soon as possible.
  • Green is an indication of a fully functional part. 
  • Blue and white are reserved for high beam and recommendation, respectively. 

Regularly servicing your car is essential, and there is so much you can do in between trips to maintain it. Regardless of your car brand or model, it could quickly turn into a burden without proper maintenance. However, with these recommended tips, your car is guaranteed an enhanced performance and safety of its occupants and other road users.    

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