|Motor Maintenance and Economy|
Statistics show a shocking new trend in car owners – a lack of knowledge about even basic maintenance. Some drivers even admit to being clueless about opening their own bonnet! This is all very well and good if you are upgrading a new car every year or so, and having your motor serviced very regularly; but for many of us that is simply not a viable possibility, so it really does pay to understand a few basics when it comes to making sure you keep your motor running and keeping costs down.
Have a flick through the handbook for any obvious maintenance tricks. Modern cars do have so many electronic components, which means much work will have to be carried out by a professional, but check what the manufacturer recommends, and take it from there.
- Look after the bodywork. Do take care, and have any minor scrapes or nicks seen to sooner rather than later, as rust can invade and spread very quickly; and be costly to remedy once it has taken hold.
- While you may not want to pay our for regular servicing and maintenance checks, in an older car, it is often a sound investment. Small problems which can easily be cured can magnify over time into very costly issues to repair.
- Modern motors have complex displays with lots of indicators. If one of these comes on, do not ignore it. Get it checked at a dealer or service centre, and they can tell you how serious the problem is and how urgent a repair needs to be.
- Check the oil. Not enough lubricant will impede the smooth running of your car and cause long term damage. Once a month, preferably, check the oil when the car is level, and cool. Wipe off the dipstick first and then replace, checking after. Look at the dipstick to check the level is high enough.
- While you are there, check the coolant levels. Water is very important to the engine, as anyone who has spent time on the edge of the M25 with an overheated engine will tell you, and again, the damage that can be caused can be very costly indeed.
- Your tyre pressures should also be check regularly. This is important for safety reasons, but will also minimise wear and tear, and has quite an effect on fuel consumption too. On a monthly basis, perhaps when you are refuelling, take it to the air station at your petrol station and check the pressures. Your handbook will tell you the optimum pressure for your car.
- Do keep an eye on tyre tread at the same time, as this is important for safety - low tread can cause skidding. This will also affect MOT results. The minimum safe and legal depth in the UK is 1.6mm.
- In the winter months it is important to keep an eye on antifreeze levels; both in your washer bottle and in the radiator, as a frozen engine is a disaster, and for safety, visibility and the life of your wiper blades, antifreeze in the washer bottle is an essential.
- Slow down! Going slower in a higher gear conserves petrol and is kinder on your engine. Speed also increases wind resistance, also increasing consumption.
- Empty the car. Most of us load the car up with all sorts of odds and ends, from blankets, clothes and shopping, to tools and various other items. The more weight in your car, however, the more strain is placed upon the mechanics; the added weight will make the motor work harder, meaning you will be using more fuel than you need.
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