Getting your first car comes with mixed feelings of joy and anxiety. Joy, because now you can travel without sticking to the schedule of public transport and anxiety because you don’t know the first thing about maintaining a car.
Prevention is better than cure, and it holds good for your car too. Don’t let a seemingly harmless rattle turn into an expensive breakdown. Most importantly, these checks don’t require a professional car repair toolkit.
Before getting your first car, find out how to become financially stable. Having your car means expenses in terms of insurance, taxes, and occasional repairs. Your cash flows should not be adversely affected due to your first car.
We share a couple of simple tips that will help you maintain your car and save money.
Keeping Your Battery in Shape
While you won’t have to worry about battery replacements in your first year, its acid levels need to be checked every six months. Ensure that the electrolyte levels are replenished as and when required with distilled water. A battery load test monthly will help it stay charged during freezing temperatures.
The termination and the top section of the battery should be cleaned using baking soda and water to prevent corrosion. Don’t overcharge your battery. Use a battery heater to keep it warm during winter.
Avoid keeping your car idle for too long.
Keep Exteriors Rust-Free
Rust is the greatest enemy for the body of your car. Washing and waxing your car regularly prevents rusting. Road salt damages your car during the winters, and a rust-protective lubricant prevents corrosion.
A little nick may cause big problems later on, so get them repaired instantly. Drive your car carefully to avoid nicks and dents. Examine your car regularly for nicks and keep your car rust-free.
Check Brake Fluid
Falling brake fluid levels are a red flag and could lead to brake failure. Check the brake fluid level on your dashboard and if you notice anything unusual, get your brake master cylinder checked. The reservoir is under the hood, and since it is transparent, you can top up the brake fluid to the ‘full’ level if it is low.
The possible causes could be a leaking brake calliper or cylinder. Once the leaking cylinder has been identified, test the brakes and check for brake fluid signs under your car.
Extreme weather can damage your engine, and a coolant plays an important role here. It prevents your engine from either overheating or freezing. You would normally not require to top up your coolant unless there is a leak.
The right mix of water and antifreeze in your coolant is required for the best results. The ratio can be altered according to the weather, however. The ideal heat pressure should be maintained for the engine.
Depending on the make and model of your car, you need to follow a coolant maintenance schedule. Modern-day coolants don’t need dilution with water. Don’t forget to check your coolant levels regularly and let them fall to the minimum mark.
Damage to Your Exhaust
Your car emits exhaust gases, and the exhaust ensures that the burnt gases don’t affect the engine. If the exhaust malfunctions, your car engine will be damaged. Exhaust systems are prone to rusting due to frequent exposure to heating and cooling.
The signs of a malfunctioning exhaust system are:
- Hissing sounds
- Loud noises from the engine
- Unpleasant odour
- Lower fuel efficiency
- Rattling sounds indicating broken exhaust pipe parts
If you experience any of this, call a mechanic immediately before more expensive repairs are required.
The headlights and tail lamps are not only essential for you to for clear night vision, but for the other motorists as well. While you need to see the road clearly, the other motorists need to see you. If your lights and lens are not working correctly, life-threatening accidents will happen.
Check your headlamps regularly and keep them clean. Driving during extreme weather conditions means your fog lamps should be in good working order too. Ensure you don’t use the fog lamps during normal conditions since they would blind the oncoming traffic.
When you want to change lanes, the indicator light will be required to notify other cars of your intention. The brake light should also be checked, and you can get someone to check if the lights are working when you apply the brakes. Before you leave, check your lights along with the other parameters.
The fuel efficiency of your car depends on the tyre pressure. Apart from this, handling your car is easier with the proper tyre pressure. The appropriate tyre pressure measured in PSI (pounds per square inch) will prolong the tyre’s life.
If your tyre pressure is wrong, your fuel consumption goes up by 5%. This means a higher fuel bill and more expenses for you. Incorrect tyre pressure can also result in puncture and potential accidents.
Keep in mind that the tyre pressure mentioned in the manufacturer’s handbook should be your guide. Ideally, your tyre pressure should be checked once a month.
The tyre tread is equally vital since worn out treads mean losing grip on the roads, especially when the roads are wet. The minimum would be 1.6 mm and preferably 2 mm across the width of the tyre.
Rains and the UK are synonymous. As a car owner, you need to ensure that your wipers are in excellent working condition to avoid accidents. Check your wiper blades regularly and replace them once a year or more frequently, depending on the mileage you cover.
Signs that your wiper blade needs to be replaced include unwashed margins, a distinct noise every time, or juddering when the rubber ages and hardens. The right wiper should be heat and cold resistant. It should also be able to remove snow and ice effectively.
Owning a car should be an enjoyable experience if you follow the tips mentioned here. If an emergency does occur, you can pay for car repairs in instalments. There are zero-interest loans that are available when you need them.
You don’t need to be an expert auto mechanic to take care of your car, but just keep your ears and eyes open. When you see the early warning signs, take the required steps or take your car to the nearest garage. Drive carefully and maintain your car correctly for a smooth ride every time.