Car expenses are no joke. The cost of ownership isn’t limited to the vehicle’s price tag. You’ll have to consider other outlays like petrol, insurance, repairs, and maintenance. Because of this, it’s necessary to ensure that your car stays roadworthy to make the most of your costs. Here are several suggestions how.

Always drive with care

Maintaining your car starts with the way you drive. Wear and tear may be inevitable but by driving carefully, you can slow down its deterioration. Consider that running at 60 mph (95.56 km/h) already uses up about 73 per cent more horsepower, which means the car’s engine has to work 73 per cent harder to cruise at that speed. By easing up on the accelerator pedal, you would take better care of your car.

The term “carefully”, however, isn’t just about following the traffic rules and staying within the speed limit. It’s also about the little things like cornering at a sensible speed, using the correct gear, avoiding engine braking, driving with a lighter load, and slowing down/avoiding potholes and bumps, all of which contribute to wearing the car out more quickly.

Monitor, replenish and/or replace car fluids

Cars generally use seven different types of fluids:

  • Engine oil
  • Coolant
  • Brake fluid
  • Transmission fluid
  • Power steering fluid
  • Battery fluid
  • Windshield wiper fluid

Each of these fluids needs to be replaced after a certain duration or driving a certain distance. The engine oil, for instance, usually has to be changed every six months or 5,000 miles. Likewise, the transmission fluid typically needs to be flushed every two years or 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. The distance or duration, however, may change depending on the vehicle. Check your owner’s manual to find out how often you need to replace your car’s fluids.

Take note that each fluid also has a recommended level that you need to maintain. If the level goes down, you’ll have to add more to keep the car in tiptop working condition.

Wax the car to care for its paint job

Applying wax on your car can be a chore, but the benefits are worth it: car wax acts as a layer of protection against plant sap, bird droppings, and many other contaminants. This barrier also slows down oxidation, which can lead to rust. For best results, use paste wax rich with carnauba content instead of liquid or spray variants. The latter may be easier to apply, but paste wax provides a more resilient protective coating.

Keep the tyres inflated properly

It’s imperative that you maintain the proper amount of air pressure in your tyres. This would several aspects of your car’s performance such as handling, fuel consumption, and how quickly its tyres wear out. To make the most of your your tyres, check the pressure with a tire pressure gauge every week to see if your tyres need more air. For a more precise reading, measure the pressure while the tyres are cold. Be sure you check the owner’s manual to see its recommended tyre pressure.

If the tyres are low on pressure, you can either fill it up with a portable air compressor or pay a visit to your local petrol station. That being said, it would be smart to invest in your own portable compressor, which can be used in a pinch.

Maintain the battery

The battery’s label may say “maintenance-free”, but these sealed variants still require upkeep. If you don’t take care of it, then don’t expect your car to stay roadworthy very long. You’ll have to do the following to keep the battery in good working condition:

  • Using a slightly damp cloth, clean the battery regularly. Take note that a dirty battery housing may actually cause the current to deplete. If the damp cloth doesn’t seem to be enough, use a gentle detergent.
  • Make sure you clean the battery’s terminals every so often. Doing this will keep the terminals from corroding, which will affect the battery’s longevity. Start by first disconnecting the negative cable (the black one with the minus sign), then the red one with the plus sign. Use a cleaning solution made from a mixture of baking soda and some water. Scrub the mixture into the terminal with a brass wire brush, then wipe it off with a clean and dry cloth.
  • After cleaning the terminals, connect the positive cable first. Remember to apply some oil on the terminals and clamps to prevent them from rusting.

Check the wheel alignment regularly

Wheel alignment refers to the position and angles of the car’s wheels in relation to each other and the ground. The wheels are aligned and adjusted to keep the car moving in a straight line (versus pulling to either side), and minimise tyre wear and tear. If you neglect to get the alignment checked on a regular basis, driving will be a chore. The car will shake and consume more fuel, the tyres will wear unevenly, and the steering will start developing problems over time, among other things.

Wheel alignment is typically checked every 48,000 kilometres, although this may vary for each car. To be sure, check the owner’s manual how often you need to do this. If you need and helping hand with this be sure to get in contact with our close partners at Auto Giant in Brisbane.

Change the filters according to the schedule

Your car comes with a number of filters. You mainly need to keep an eye on the filters for air, fuel, transmission, and oil. Like the other parts that require upkeep, see to it that you follow the maintenance schedule specified in the owner’s manual. This would usually include the following:

  • Check the air filter every couple of months and clean it with your portable air compressor to keep them functioning well.
  • Replace the oil filter every other time you get the oil changed. Just make sure you apply anti-seize lubricant on the filter threads when you do so.
  • Have your transmission fluid filter replaced every 40,000 kilometres or two years, whichever comes first.
  • Have your fuel filter changed at least every 12 months. Age will eventually clog your fuel filters so a year is a reasonable period.

Replace the spark plugs periodically

For improved engine performance and efficient fuel consumption, have your car’s spark plugs changed every 48,000 kilometres. If your car uses double platinum spark plugs, they can last for as far as 160,000 kilometres. Don’t forget to change the spark plug wires, which last for about 80,000 kilometres. It’s important to replace the spark plug wires when necessary; deterioration can affect how new spark plugs perform.

Inspect the condition of belts and hoses monthly

Don’t take your car’s belts and hoses for granted. If not replaced when they need to, these components may fail and leave you stranded on the road. See to it that you inspect the hoses every month by squeezing them. If the hose is either brittle, hard, too soft, or sticky, then it’s time to replace it. Be on the lookout for ruptures, bumps, and other blemishes that may indicate significant damage.

Belts, on the other hand, shouldn’t be too loose or tight as they would wear out more quickly. The tension should be just right; ideally, you should be able to press down on the belt by about half to an inch. Remember to inspect the belts before starting the vehicle to avoid getting hurt.