How to avoid a break­down

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Sim­ple ve­hi­cle main­te­nance can save you the frus­tra­tion and ex­pense of costly re­pairs. We’ve cre­ated a list of things to look out for to save you time, has­sle and money.

En­sure in­creased fuel or oil con­sump­tion, hard start­ing, rough run­ning or any un­usual noises ex­pe­ri­enced while driv­ing are promptly in­spected by an au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cian.

Your ve­hi­cle should be ser­viced at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals, usu­ally ev­ery 10,000km or ev­ery 12 months, which ever oc­curs first.

Check the ra­di­a­tor coolant level when your ve­hi­cle is cold. Check the op­er­a­tion of the ex­pan­sion tank (if fit­ted). Coolant level should be high when your ve­hi­cle is hot and low when your ve­hi­cle is cold. Check the seal on the ra­di­a­tor cap and for ev­i­dence of sludge build-up on the un­der­neath of the cap and in the neck of the ra­di­a­tor. Check the ra­di­a­tor core and tanks for leaks. Leaks are in­di­cated by the pres­ence of water or water stain­ing. Check ra­di­a­tor and heater hoses for signs of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion, leak­age, soft­en­ing and loose clamps.

Check the en­gine oil level us­ing the dip­stick when the en­gine is cold; per­form this check twice. En­gine oil tends to get darker in colour as it ages. If your oil is darker than usual and you’re un­sure of the mileage or when your last ser­vice was, the oil should be re­placed. Some­times, an en­gine flush­ing agent should be used to re­move car­bon and other build-up from the en­gine sump. Look for signs of oil or coolant leak­age on the drive­way af­ter your ve­hi­cle has been parked. Ve­hi­cles with air con­di­tion­ing oc­ca­sion­ally drip water from the con­denser drain pipe, so any ap­par­ent leak­age may not nec­es­sar­ily be from the en­gine cool­ing sys­tem. When driv­ing, par­tic­u­larly on long jour­neys, con­tin­u­ously check your oil and water in­di­ca­tors, and warn­ing lights.

Check for fray­ing, cracks or other signs of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion. Check for cor­rect belt ten­sion. If the belt ap­pears loose, have an au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cian make the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments; es­pe­cially in newer cars.

En­sure the ter­mi­nals are clean and se­curely tight­ened. Check the elec­trolyte level and top up with water if re­quired. A bat­tery la­belled "low main­te­nance" or "main­te­nance free" could still be low on fluid. In this sit­u­a­tion, con­sult a bat­tery spe­cial­ist or au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cian.

Check tyre pres­sure reg­u­larly; in­clud­ing the spare. Usu­ally, space saver spare tyres should be in­flated to 420 kps / 60 PSI. If you have to use your space saver spare tyre, it should not be driven at speeds above 80 kph or for dis­tances ex­ceed­ing 100km. Check for ab­nor­mal tyre wear which may in­di­cate in­cor­rect pres­sure or a wheel align­ment prob­lem. Check tread depth is sat­is­fac­tory. A tread depth less than a match-head is un­safe and il­le­gal.

Check the fluid lev­els of the brake and clutch cylin­ders (if ap­pli­ca­ble); there are typ­i­cally marks on the reser­voirs for you to use as a guide. En­sure you top-up us­ing the cor­rect fluid. Check that both ped­als per­form prop­erly and that they are not sink­ing to the floor. If you have any con­cerns, get them checked by an au­to­mo­tive tech­ni­cian. Do not tam­per with your brakes. It could ren­der your car dan­ger­ous un­road­wor­thy and unin­sured.

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