Sim­ple checks to keep car run­ning

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

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.

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