If you own and use a car, you know that maintaining it is of utmost importance. It's not just about avoiding extra (often unexpected) costs when things break down; a preventative care approach also makes it safer to drive, and you can even prolong the lifespan of your car too!
So, how can you minimise wear and tear on your vehicle? Here are 9 top tips to ensure that you enjoy a smooth, reliable and efficient drive, more often than not.
Give your car some regular TLC and stick to your routine maintenance schedule
First and foremost, cars are engineered to be driven and all of its different parts and components need to be maintained in order to remain in good shape. All vehicle manufacturers recommend routine maintenance, repairs as needed, fluid changes and tops offs at regular intervals.
With regular maintenance checks, you'll save plenty Rands and cents on unnecessary repairs for major components, as well as reduce risk of causing damage to the engine and other parts.
The below additional tips are typically part of your regular maintenance checks, but it is also good for you to keep a close eye on each of these components yourself too.
1. Remember to change your motor oil and oil filter frequently
The function of motor oil is to help lubricate and clean the engine of your vehicle. This aids in reducing any metal-to-metal contact which can result in damage. It also helps to protect against the accumulation of carbon and varnish collecting in the engine. Over time, motor oil does tend to lose its cooling and lubricating properties, and as such degrades. So, it's a good idea to ensure that you frequently check the colour and viscosity of the oil and the filter too. What it shouldn't be is dirty or feel gritty to the touch. One way to do this is to have an attendant at a petrol station check this for you every time you fill up. If you happen to need a change, it's a relatively cheap fix that can save you having to replace more expensive parts or even the entire engine.
2. Keep a close eye on your car's tyre pressure
The pressure in your vehicle's tyres never remains constant - changes in temperature affects pressure levels. As you drive you lose a little pressure. Tyre pressure should always be maintained at optimal levels - and not just for road safety reasons. At the correct levels, tyre pressure can also help to increase fuel efficiency as you drive. If you maintain this well, you'll also be increasing their lifespan too. Once more, this one small consideration will also save you a fair bit of money.
3. Attend to your brakes before they start to squeak
Over time your brakes (discs) and brake pads wear down, but you can also hasten this process if you use them harshly. Slamming on the brakes unnecessarily tends to wear them down quicker, so it's a good idea to go easy on them if you don't want to be changing them too frequently. If they're already squeaking, they're almost completely worn down, and for safety reasons primarily, it's best to have them changed as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the less damage to your vehicle too.
4. Protect your car's engine - reduce stop and start driving behaviour
Such behaviours have the effect of wearing out your engine quicker than its desired manufactured intention. So, wherever possible, try and avoid too much 'stop and start' journeys without a bit of a drive in between. If you do need to do this - perhaps your line of work involves making a lot of deliveries in a day - ensure that you schedule an extra maintenance check or two, over and above what is recommended for your vehicle - just to be on the safe side (and save a hefty amount in repairs too).
5. Make use of your hand brake when parking your car
This helps to reduce wear and tear on the transmission of your vehicle. Engaging the hand brake (or emergency brake) when you park your car lessens any stress on the transmission which is required to keep your vehicle safely stationary - and not just when you're parked on an incline or hill.
A few more quick-fire tips...
- Be mindful of how weather affects the general wear and tear of your car (i.e. park in shady spots to avoid overheating damage if you're out and about during a hot and sunny day.)
- Adjust your driving behaviours accordingly when having to adapt to different weather conditions (i.e. rainy and foggy conditions can have an impact on overall road safety, so make sure to be mindful of how you drive. Harsh braking behaviours, for instance impacts your safety but also adds to accelerating wear and tear on your vehicle).
- Take note of any small changes or problems and have them seen to (i.e. if an engine light begins to flash, take note and have it checked as soon as possible. Fixing little problems prevent far more expensive ones down the line).
If you have a warranty plan, how much are you actually covered for?
At Discovery Insure, we know that as your car ages, it needs a little more TLC. If your car manufacturer's warranty plan has expired, Discovery Insure's Vehicle Warranty offers a comprehensive cover solution for unlimited mechanical breakdown and electrical failure.
Best of all, you get wear and tear cover for a total of 36 critical vehicle components. With a sophisticated, risk-related premium structure, your premiums also reflect your own personal risk profile. You can also get up to 100% discount on all servicing and maintenance costs for your vehicle every year when you take out the market's first telematics-based warranty cover in the country.