Simple checks to keep car running
BENJAMIN Franklin once said, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. So, take ol’ Ben’s advice and perform these simple fluid checks to keep your car in top condition.
it’s a fact that cars are becoming more and more complicated and these days manufacturers don’t like you touching anything that doesn’t have a brightly coloured lid.
The good news is that those bits are vital to keeping your car up and running, and checking the fluids is easier than falling off a log. So, lift the bonnet on your car and perform these five simple checks. Today. Now.
A healthy and charged battery: Even today, flat batteries are the largest single cause of call-outs by motoring associations.
Make sure your car battery is properly secured with a clamp in the battery tray, because a loose battery can damage the delicate lead plates. Keep the top of your battery clean and dry to stop charge leaking away.
A screeching noise after you start the engine is a sign your fan belt is loose, and because a properly charged battery depends on a tight fan belt, the sooner you attend to it, the less likely your battery is to fail. it may be a simple matter of tightening the belt, or it may need replacement.
if you travel short distances and use your lights and heater, you can drain battery power. However a lon- ger drive will recharge it fully and give the car a good workout. Do bear in mind that the car battery will wear out, so be prepared to replace it if it goes flat or is more than five years old. Coolant level:
Hot weather is hell on engines, and in Australia, there’s no shortage of roasting days. Water for the radiator must be mixed with the right type of anti-freeze all year round to stop corrosion inside the engine — a common cause of blown head gaskets.
Make sure you check the level weekly when the engine is cold. if you find you are topping up far too often, this may be a sign of a leak that needs to be fixed by a mechanic.
Anti-freeze: in many places subzero temperatures are also a winter regular. The first freezing morning often brings a flurry of frozen engines, caused by too little antifreeze.
Check you have sufficient cold weather protection by removing the filler cap, siphoning a little coolant into a small container and placing it in your freezer overnight. if it freezes, you need more antifreeze. Oil checks: When you check your oil, it’s important to be on a level ground. Most modern engines will use a little oil — some are designed that way — but an uncharacteristic increase in oil consumption is a sure sign of a problem.
it’s also important to use the correct oil for topping up, so follow the requirements listed in the owner’s handbook. Using the wrong oil is a false economy that can cause blown turbochargers and broken timing chains. BRAKE FLUID: Modern cars will have a warning light to alert you of a low fluid level, but it’s still worth taking a look at the reservoir while you’re checking the other things under the bonnet. The level will drop slightly over time, but not so far that it needs topping up. if the level has dropped below the minimum, a warning light should come on.
As with all warning lights, it’s best not to ignore it. Have your brakes checked because there may be a fluid leak. Cleanliness: Keeping the inside of your car clean and tidy (try and vacuum the interior and give all surfaces a wipe over weekly) will help keep it in good condition, and that’ll go well for you when it comes to sell the car, either privately or to a dealer.
Most people will use the condition of your car’s interior as an indicator as to how well the car’s been looked after. And don’t just think one big clean right before selling the thing will do the trick. it won’t.
–– Practical Motoring
DON’T just rely on your car’s scheduled services to keep it running.