- Car Care & Maintenance
Care Your Car.
Maintaining your car and keeping it in a good running condition is a dynamic and continuous event. Your failure in not doing so may result in a sudden let-down and also a risky situation, not to mention the heavy burden of expensive repairs when a big damage is detected. Hence it is imperative that you should keep your car in an excellent condition. The following points will be useful for doing so:
1. The battery of the car should be checked if it is maintenance free or not. If it is maintenance free, there is no need for you to check the level of the electrolyte inside it. If it is not maintenance free, you should unscrew the caps and the level of the electrolyte inside the battery should be checked. If you find that the level is low, you should top it up with distilled water. The terminals must also be checked if they are corroded. If they are corroded, you should use a wire brush to clean them up and then you should grease them for preventing future corrosion.
2. Brake pads or shoes are made of a heat-resistant friction material and hence can wear out because, when brakes are applied, they are clamped against the disc or pushed against the drum. Damaged break horses or worn-out seals may cause fluid leaks and this may result in dangerous break failures. When your car is pulled to one side when you apply the brakes, you can understand that the brake pads are wearing out.
3. In a hydraulic clutch, smooth operation is facilitated by a fluid which also prevents wear and tear. When you try to accelerate the speed, the engine rev should not build up faster than the acceleration. If it happens, you can conclude that the clutch has worn out and this may lead to difficulty in changing the gear. You should also replace clutch fluid to the required level as per the vehicle handbook.
4. Hearing a squealing sound means the fan belt is slipping. The belt may not have been tensioned properly. So your cooling fan will not be operated and the engine will get overheated and severely damaged.
5. Normal unleaded petrol is a good option for fuel. Before you venture out on your journey, you should ensure that there is sufficient fuel available to undertake the journey.
6. As regards leaks, it is always better to be safe than feel sorry later. Leaks should be attended to immediately. The modern car relies on many liquids and lubricants for smooth running and hence leaks may lead to trouble.
7. Car lights usually fail in combinations. Regular checking of front and rear lights, brake lights and indicators with the headlights on and off should be done so as to avoid malfunctioning or failure of lights. Lights have become one of the major causes of accidents.
You should carry a bulb kit containing the complete set of lights.
8. The engine of the car should be protected with the right amount of oil. Checking of the oil should be done only when the engine is cold because this will only give you the right reading. You should also change the oil regularly to remove harmful dirt or contaminants. Oil filter should also be changed regularly. Changing high-grade synthetic oil every 4,000 miles benefits turbocharged and high-performance cars.
9. Overheating of radiator will lead to expensive repairs. The modern day coolant of the right mixture of water with antifreeze with inhibitor should be used. The level of the coolant should be checked only when the engine is cold. Hoses supplying the coolant to the radiator should also be regularly checked for leaks.
10. There should not be much movement of the steering wheel when the front wheels are not turning. Wheel alignment and Steering should be checked if the car is pulling too much to one side or the other. This checking should be done on a flat road and not on roads on which banking in the form of slight slope towards the kerb, has been done.
11. The timing belt, which is hidden under a plastic cover, connects the upper and lower engine parts and its breaking will lead to poor running of the car. Engine may also get damaged. Your handbook will tell you the frequency at which you should change this timing belt.
12. Stopping distances are affected by worn out tyres. It will be good if you replace tyres when the tread depth is 2mm. If the tyres on one side wear faster than those on the other side, then you should check the suspension of the car. You should try not to hit the kerb on the road because this may slowly weaken the tyres.
13. If you 'listen' to your car, you will get suitable warning sounds. You can also watch for performance changes and warning lights to understand faults that may have developed.
14. Windscreen washer reservoir should have enough water in it and wiper blades must be changed every six months because the rubber in them would have got corroded due to exposure to atmosphere. There should not be any cracks on the windscreen.
15. The air conditioning in the car should be run at least once a week and the air conditioning system should be serviced every two years. The benefits of keeping your air conditioning in good shape are: You get the right temperature required, Pollen and pollution are reduced, CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) are reduced in the atmosphere and money is saved.
Even in winter, you can run the air conditioning to prevent misting up of your windscreen.
16. Air filters, when they get dirty, increase emissions and fuel economy is reduced. They should be replaced or cleaned regularly.
If you maintain your car properly, the running cost will be very minimal. If regular checks and servicing are done, you can reduce the wear. You can also avoid major repairs and excessive expenses. Regular checks and servicing may also help you prevent avoidable accidents.