Top 10 DIY car main­te­nance tips

Lesotho Times - - Motoring -

Mon­i­tor in­fla­tion

OVER-IN­FLATED tyres re­sult in a less ef­fec­tive con­tact patch on the road, mak­ing the car feel “skit­tish”, re­duc­ing ride qual­ity, lim­it­ing grip in the wet and dry and wear­ing the rub­ber in the cen­tre.

Un­der-in­flated tyres make for “soggy” han­dling, work the en­gine harder (us­ing more fuel) and over-flex the tyre side­wall, po­ten­tially lead­ing to a blowout. The ap­pro­pri­ate tyre pres­sure is printed on the side­wall of the tyre; make sure yours are cor­rectly in­flated for a smooth run on the road.

Keep your cool An over­heat­ing en­gine can leave you stranded with a big re­pair bill. The best way to pre­vent a hot en­gine is to en­sure your ra­di­a­tor is al­ways full of ra­di­a­tor fluid, which is usu­ally green but can some­times be yel­low, and is de­signed to re­duce the risk of freez­ing in cold cli­mates and boil­ing in hot cli­mates.

More im­por­tantly, ra­di­a­tor fluid helps re­duce cor­ro­sion, which is a ma­jor cause of ra­di­a­tor clog­ging and leak­ing. To check for the lat­ter, run your en­gine for a few min­utes (with the cap on) and have it re­paired or re­placed if it leaks.

To flush your ra­di­a­tor if the fluid is dirty, use a gar­den hose to cir­cu­late wa­ter through it (never re­move the cap from a hot ra­di­a­tor) with the drain plug re­moved.

Stay well-oiled You will need to check the oil rec­om­mended for your car, the en­gine’s oil ca­pac­ity and the type of fil­ter re­quired be­fore you start chang­ing your oil and fil­ter.

New oil keeps the en­gine spin­ning freely, max­imis­ing its ef­fi­ciency and longevity. A lack of oil and/or dirty oil in­creases the risk of wear and over­heat­ing, and short­ens the en­gine’s life. Not ev­ery car has an easy-to-ac­cess oil fil­ter, so if you’re un­sure check with your ser­vice ad­viser.

Clean wipes New wind­screen wiper blades will help keep the out­side sur­face of your wind­screen clean. Apart from clean­ing your screen less ef­fec­tively, old wipers trap dirt and rub it into the glass, even­tu­ally caus­ing a fine haze ef­fect which can scat­ter sun­light, blur­ring vi­sion. Most wiper blades are sim­ple to re­place but can vary wildly in price.

Strik­ing a clean bal­ance so check your lo­cal auto store for the right prod­uct and mix ac­cord­ing to the in­struc­tions on the bot­tle.

Avoid us­ing soapy liq­uids in your washer bot­tle; in­stead use a dash of methy­lated sprits, which we reckon is the most ef­fec­tive.

Shin­ing a light on safety Don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the im­por­tance of your in­di­ca­tors, which you can tell are work­ing by the lights in the in­stru­ment panel and the regular tick­ing sound that ac­com­pany them.

When an in­di­ca­tor fails, both the lights and the noise be­come more rapid. As with head­lights, it’s re­ally easy to check your in­di­ca­tors are work­ing, but brake lights are harder to check on your own.

Ac­cess to globes isn’t al­ways easy, so if they need re­plac­ing it’s best to seek out your lo­cal auto elec­tri­cian and/or me­chanic if you’re un­sure. Clean your head­light lenses to max­imise their ef­fec­tive­ness. It sounds sim­ple but it’s es­sen­tial to keep your car clean and tidy – in­side and out, in­clud­ing the boot. That means re­mov­ing all non-es­sen­tial large and/or heavy items, which can be­come lethal weapons in the event of a col­li­sion.

Give your car a good vac­uum at least once a month if it’s used daily. Buy some cloth or rub­ber mats so the car­pet on the car’s floor doesn’t wear thin and be­come slip­pery.

They’re easy to re­move and re­place, and will also pro­tect the value of the car when you sell it — just make sure they don’t foul your ped­als.

Clean your steer­ing wheel from time to time with an al­co­holic wipe; it’ll of­fer more grip, feel and smell nicer, and be more hy­gienic.

Cover up of your car. If your seat has in­built airbags make sure you get a match­ing cover.

A good sur­face clean There are dif­fer­ent types of clean­ers for dif­fer­ent in­te­rior sur­faces. Newer cars usu­ally only re­quire spray-and-wipe style clean­ers, but makes sure you don’t go over­board. For the out­side, use a pres­sure washer in­stead of the car wash — it’s slightly more work but it won’t dam­age your paint.

Use your eyes and ears Pay at­ten­tion to your car. Eye­ball your car closely for a few min­utes ev­ery once in a while. Look for fresh spots of fluid un­der your car and check your fluid lev­els reg­u­larly.

Turn down the stereo and lis­ten to your car at start-up, at low speed, on the free­way and dur­ing brak­ing and ac­cel­er­a­tion. When com­po­nents need re­plac­ing you will of­ten hear and feel them. It could make your car safer and po­ten­tially pre­vent costly re­pairs.

— Mo­tor­ing.

Proper car main­te­nance is es­sen­tial no mat­ter the make, model or year of your au­to­mo­bile.

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