Tips to keep your car healthy

Save money with DIY, and stay safe by knowing what to look out for.

The best tricks to keeping your car healthy and keeping down costs are knowing what to look out for, and learning what you can do yourself rather than paying a mechanic. Anyone can save time, money and effort by following a few car maintenance tips.

This guide gives some simple tips you can use to keep your car in shape, and a DIY explanation of simple but critical car maintenance procedures everyone can do.

Important tips to keep your car healthy

Following a few simple instructions, both on the road and off, can keep you safer, your pocket healthier, and your car in better shape.

  • Know the symptoms of a sick car. There are five big warning signals to watch out for. Be alert for leaks of any kind, ongoing unusual noises while driving, strange smells like burning, if your car is handling differently or the presence of warning lights. These are some of the main symptoms mechanics use to diagnose a sick car.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of wax. If you want to protect your car, waxing it can make a big difference, absorbing scratches that would otherwise eat at the paint and offering some protection from weathering. You don’t even need to use particularly expensive or high-end car wax to make a real improvement. Waxing will also keep your car shinier, and can even help clean up clouded headlights.
  • Turn on the lights sooner. Even in broad daylight, cars with lights on are less likely to be involved in accidents. Turn lights on as soon as it starts to get dark to stay safer. The same applies when skies begin to darken due to weather changes.
  • Don’t assume that handwashing is better. A lot of people who handwash their cars end up scratching off the paint layers a little bit at a time. The right cleaning products can help prevent this, but not everyone has them. Automated car washes are generally perfectly fine.
  • Find the right car insurance. Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance is mandatory for everyone, but it is highly advisable to consider other forms of cover. Third party property damage car insurance is an affordable way to protect yourself from potentially ludicrous liability costs, while comprehensive car insurance may be a worthwhile investment for more valuable cars.
  • Stick to the centre lane. The middle lane of a highway is typically the safest place to be as most accidents happen in the outside lanes, especially in the slow lane. In addition, every time you change lanes you’re taking a little bit of a risk. Getting to the middle lane and staying there is the safest bet.
  • Recirculating air conditioning is the best coolness for money. Opening car windows creates more drag and reduces efficiency, particularly at higher speeds. Non-recirculated air conditioning modes also use a lot of energy on cooling. The best bet is use the recirculating air conditioning mode that takes in and refreshes the already-cool air from inside the car. Keep in mind this may not be ideal for long trips, as the reduced oxygen level in the car can cause fatigue.
  • Compare finance plans. You should compare a range of different financing plans to find the most ideal one for your own circumstances. While the car dealer may offer a deal that sounds competitive, you won’t know until you compare.
  • Travel light when you can. Every 50kg of extra weight can decrease fuel economy by up to 2%, or more if it’s added to a roof rack. This can add up, so habitually cleaning out the car and travelling light can save you plenty in the long run.
  • Don’t forget to maintain the interior. Cleaning and moisturising your car interior a few times a year can extend its lifespan and give you a leg-up when it comes to reselling. Standard cleaning products, such as leather conditioner for leather seats, are fine.
  • Fix glass cracks quickly. Hairline cracks can spread quickly, but are easy and cheap to fix while they’re still small. When they get too large there’s no option other than replacing the entire window at a much greater cost.

Image: Shutterstock

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