How to look after your car so it doesn’t let you down!

Common mistakes that can do bad things to your vehicle

As a proud car owner, you want your vehicle to last as long as possible. In looking after it, the first rule is ‘do no harm’. Here are some blunders to avoid:

Riding your brakes down a long hill – Brake pads wear faster when they heat up, and a sure way to get them super-hot is to ride them all the way down a long hill. A better method is to alternate between braking and letting off the brake.

This is much easier on your brake pads, which won’t keep you safe if they’re worn down to nothing.

Using a pressure washer on your engine – Pressure washers are great for cleaning the grime off your concrete driveway – but not so great for cleaning your car engine, which is a complex piece of equipment with all sorts of small wires, sensors and components.

A high powered jet of water can dislodge electrical bits, hoses and rubber seals in an instant, and is simply a bad idea.

A few rags and some degreaser fluid is all you really need to clean a grimy engine and you probably only have to do this once or twice a year.

Forgetting to change your oil – This must be the most common mental lapse for car owners – leaving their oil change until the engine’s lubricant looks something like sludgy black molasses.

Old engine oil does your car no good at all, so you should change your oil as often as your car manual suggests (and this frequency varies between models). And don’t forget to change the oil filter now and then too.

Neglecting to use the parking brake – Whether you’re parked on a steep hill or reasonably flat ground, you should always use the parking brake.

Aside from obvious safety reasons, using the park brake takes the strain off your transmission – which is not designed to hold your car steady. Something as simple as getting into the habit of using your park brake can potentially add years to the life of your car.

Ignoring those funny sounds – If you let it, your car can talk to you. And if you listen carefully, you can work out what it’s trying to say. That squeak every time you open the passenger door means you need to oil the door hinges. That thumping sound can mean a loose exhaust pipe.

That whining noise can indicate a worn transmission. And that high-pitched squeal you hear when you put on the brakes is serious – it’s a sure sign your brake pads need replacing. Always listen to your car – it will often give you a clue when something isn’t working right.



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