A car is the second-most expensive thing most of us buy, after a house or flat. And just as we try not to let our properties decline, so too should you look after your car. Here’s how to keep it healthy and efficient for longer.
Stick to your servicing schedule
It’s advisable to service your car every 12 months, or possibly sooner if you’re doing high miles. That doesn’t just simply mean renewing the oil, either. Servicing may involve swapping out multiple consumables, including the oil filter, air filter, cabin filter, spark plugs (if it’s a petrol engine) and more.
Top up your fluids
You should also keep the car’s fluids topped up. From windscreen wash to engine oil, 12 months is ample time for these to run low. Regular fluid checks are a good habit to get into to help your car live longer.
Change your filters
Filters keep whatever fluids your car is using clean. Oil, air and fuel all have their own separate filters, which need to be changed at varying intervals. The oil and air filters should be changed at every annual service.
Replace your spark plugs
Spark plugs are an essential part of your petrol engine, and generally should be changed at every service, too. Is your car running rough? It could be the plugs. Thankfully, they’re a relatively easy job to tackle in your garage at home.
Check your tyres
Safety should be reason enough to keep your tyres in tip-top condition, but financial savings are an added incentive. Keeping your tyres correctly inflated will save you money at the pumps.
Keep your car clean
Your car might be running like a watch, but keeping it clean is also good for its health. Road grime, salt, bird mess: it all adds up to, at best, sorry-looking paint. At worst, it will cause corrosion of your car’s bodywork and internal parts. A clean car, both inside and out, will live for longer.
Use your garage
The best way to protect your car from the elements, is to keep it away from them. Parking overnight in the safety of a garage will give it decent protection from birds and nasty weather, not to mention crime. It’ll still need to be washed from time to time, though.
Kick the clutter
Weight equals excessive wear and tear. Clear the clutter out of your car and it’ll handle, stop and drive better overall. It’ll also use less fuel. Less weight makes everything better when it comes to cars.
Service, clean, and keep your car safe all you want; if you don’t drive it correctly, things will go wrong. That means avoiding hard acceleration and anticipating stops so you don’t have to slam on the brakes. Don’t rush the gears or sling the steering wheel around. That said, your engine will appreciate a zesty drive every so often.
Use your car’s equipment
Use it or lose it. What’s true of your body also applies to your car. Features like air conditioning and electric windows can seize over time. If you drive a convertible, retract its roof from time to time. If nothing else, using certain features will let you know whether they are working, so you can get them fixed if not.
Keep your battery healthy
Batteries are fickle devices that need to be used to stay healthy. Leave your car for a while and the battery will go flat and degrade, especially in the UK’s highly variable climate. If you know your car will be standing for a while, get a trickle charger hooked up to keep the battery healthy.
Don’t scrimp on parts
You’d be upset if you got second-rate organs for a transplant because they were cheaper. So don’t cut corners on car parts. In general, OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts are best. If you’re buying aftermarket items, do your research. Reputable brands are best.
Rust-proof your car
Better to prevent than fix. Before your car rusts away, before you’ve even washed it for the first time, it’s a good idea to get it rust-proofed. Paint-protection wraps work well, and touch-ups of stone chips and other exposed metal will keep the orange wolf from your car door. Underneath, an inspection and, if necessary, a coating of underseal could be a good investment.
Don’t modify your car
The original parts that came on your car have all been tested over hundreds of thousands of miles. If in doubt, keep things standard, or your car may suffer for it. It’s likely that a modified car will be worth less, too.