Every thrifty car owner understands a vehicle requires regular inspection and maintenance to maintain peak efficiency and yet many owners skip key maintenance issues until they become larger and more expensive problems. Regular maintenance not only promotes saving by preventing major repairs, but also keeps the car running efficiently with better kilometres per litre fuel economy. One of the most important car maintenance tricks is to develop a set schedule with record keeping which ensures the tasks are performed on time.
Top tip from Bartons: Always ensure that you keep a full service history for your vehicle. It may be an outlay while you own the vehicle but it will pay dividends once you re-sell your car. Often dealerships will offer you more in terms of a trade-in deal for you next car.
Tyre pressure should be checked daily with a glance and once or twice a month with a tyre pressure gauge. Low pressure will reduce fuel economy but high pressure will make the tyre wear out prematurely. In addition to air pressure, tyres occasionally need to be rotated and balanced according to the recommendation of the manufacturer.
“In 2014, the average Australian spent $144 a month on fuel or over $1700 a year. One of the best ways to cut down fuel consumption is to ensure your tyres are inflated, this is estimated to save fuel consumption by up to 6% as well as extend the life of your tyres and break pads.” – Leon Saliba, Managing Director & Co-Founder of Spares Box.
Levels of brake fluid, power steering fluid, oil, transmission fluid and engine coolant need to be checked regularly. Sometimes they may be low and simply topping them off solves the problem. However, if they seem to be going low on a regular basis there’s likely a cause that can be easily repaired if the problem is addressed before causing further damage. The fluid levels themselves can cause a major breakdown if left under filled for too long.
Wipers may not seem like the most important upkeep for a vehicle, but it has to do with safety. Foul weather makes it hard enough to see, a dirty windshield with streaks left by the wipers is even worse. Windshield wiper fluid is the easiest way to keep the windshield clean and has the added benefit of melting ice and snow. Car windshield and glass care isn’t a large expense in the overall scheme of car maintenance, and may be required according to vehicle inspections rules, according to law in a specific state or territory. So, it’s best to keep the wipers in working order.
Air filters are notorious for being overlooked as they don’t typically cause a noticeable problem as they become dirty. They do, however, reduce the engine performance as they become partially clogged. Usually they should be replaced about every three months for the typical driver.
Top tip from Supercheap Auto: Regular vehicle maintenance ensures that your car is running efficiently and economically. As an example, if your car has an air filter, make sure it is replaced regularly. Air filters protect your engine from hazardous debris and engine waste, a clean air filter can improve your fuel efficiency by up to 10%.
The battery needs to be inspected on occasion for a solid connection and corrosion on the terminals. Like most problems, it’s easy to fix if corrosion is caught early and cleaned off but is more expensive if the repair waits until the battery and cables need to be replaced.
Mechanics agree regular oil changes are the single most important maintenance routine for a vehicle. Oil is an essential part of engine operation. Old oil develops sludge which can eventually clog the proper passage of oil through the engine causing friction and heat that damages the internal parts.
Spark plugs are generally recommended for a change after about 50,000 kilometres. If they are dirty they likely aren’t firing properly, reducing the power and efficiency of the vehicle. This is a type of problem that usually comes on too slowly to make a noticeable difference, meaning it’s easy to let it go unattended. If allowed to go until one or more completely stop firing, the car will have a significant loss of power while putting the engine under more stress than it was engineered for, likely causing more expensive damage.