Today is World Kindness day – a day when we’re all encouraged to carry out an act of kindness and spread a bit of cheer. Whether it’s donating cat food to an animal shelter or buying someone the latest One Direction single (you have to be cruel to be kind, apparently), there are loads of things you can do to give yourself a warm glow today.
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But have you thought about carrying out an act of kindness towards your car? While it’s sat outside in the cold, damp weather, with a long winter ahead of it, giving it a bit of TLC today could prevent an inconvenient breakdown in the coming months. Some of these ideas will take a matter of seconds.
1: Let it warm up
There’s nothing wrong with using your car’s entire rev-range occasionally. Although it won’t help fuel economy, winding the engine up towards the redline can be fun and, when joining fast-moving traffic, can be safer than plodding along.
But it’s best to do it with a warm engine. If you thrash your car when its oil and coolant temperatures are still low, you could cause some serious damage. Bear in mind, even when the coolant temperature has written (in most cases the needle on your temperature gauge will be roughly halfway), the engine’s oil will take a little longer to get warmer.
2: Give it a clean
The last thing you want to be doing this evening is washing your car in the cold. But washing the grime off it will help it last longer – and it’ll look much better compared to all the other filthy cars on the roads.
Avoid using an automated car wash though, as this could result in unwanted scratches, and we’ve also heard horror stories from people using manned car washes. Besides, paying someone else to do it isn’t really in the spirit of World Kindness Day.
While you’re cleaning your car, be sure to spray off any salt and dirt underneath it. Otherwise you’ll be left with a shiny-looking car that’s rusty underneath – and that could result in costly bills when it comes to MOT time.
3: Look after your tyres
A car can have all the safety features in the world, but they rely on the four pieces of rubber connecting your car to the road. It might not be the most exciting job in the world, but why not check on the condition of your tyres this World Kindness Day? Check the depth of the tread – it legally needs to be 1.6mm deep, but you really want it to be more than 3.0mm at this time of year.
Also look out for nails and any bumps in the sidewalls. They could cause an unexpected blow-out while you’re travelling at speed. And while we’re being kind to our tyres, show a bit of consideration while you’re driving about. Avoid bumping up kerbs, slow down for speed bumps, and watch out for potholes. Your wallet (and safety) will thank you.
4: Get any damage repaired
It’s a fact of life that cars pick up minor knocks and scrapes over time. While we’d get any serious accident damage repaired through the insurance, many of us will just live with smaller scratches and dents that can make our car look tatty.
But you might be surprised how cheap you can get them fixed. There are companies who specialise in minor bodywork repairs, and will even come out to your home or place of work.
Alternatively, why not have a go yourself? You can buy products off the shelf that will magically clean up scuffs on bodywork, while some scratches will even come out with a bit of polish. Imagine how much better you’ll feel about your car once that irritating scrape has disappeared?
5: Check the fluid levels
When did you last check your car’s oil? You might think it’s unnecessary, especially if you have your car serviced regularly, but you might regret it if you suffer terminal engine failure.
While you’re there, check other fluids under the bonnet. A shortage of brake fluid can result in dangerous consequences, while a lack of coolant can cause your engine to overheat and that can become very costly.
6: Clear out any rubbish
Some of us – especially those of us who spend a lot of time in our cars or have families – treat our cars like a mobile skip. It’s not an uncommon sight to see a car full of litter, such as discarded food containers or used parking tickets.
Grab a bin bag, duster and hoover, and give your car an, erm, autumn clean. It’ll create a much nicer environment for spending time in over the winter months.
7: Check the lights
Some of us don’t drive in the dark at all over summer, so won’t notice a blown bulb or defective light. But, as days get shorter, it’s important to make sure you can be seen in the dark. Something as simple as a headlight out can prevent you being seen, with disastrous consequences. Take two minutes out of your day to check all your lights are working as they should be.
These are seven of our methods of being kind to our cars today. Have you got any suggestions for looking after your motor? Let us know!