Cars are like electric lights. We often don’t appreciate them until they go on the blink. Regular checks and a simple service can greatly reduce the cost of car ownership and keep you a much happier traveller! Don’t let the thought of car maintenance intimidate you. There are actually several things you can do – even if you’re totally mechanically-challenged!
For some the following tips might seem straight forward, but even an experienced car owner like me let it slip by many a time.
For instance, checks that can be done at the gas station while filling up:
Windshield washer fluid level – I normally add a table spoon of dishwashing liquid once in a while to help cleaning the windshield when using the wipers.
Brake Fluid level – Check the brake fluid reservoir level regularly and fill up if necessary. If this level keeps on dropping it means there is a leak in the system which can cause failure of your car’s brakes. This needs urgent attention – take it to your service station.
Battery Fluid level – Check the battery fluid level and top up with distilled water. It should not be filled to the top because the battery needs to “breath”. Gasses are produced when the battery is charging and needs to escape. (Fluid should just cover the battery plates)
Lights – Be sure all your lights are clean and working, including brake lights, turn signals and emergency flashers.
Tires - Check the tires and pressures – look for cuts, bulges, nails or other foreign objects sticking out.
If you see any fluid leaking from your car or if you smell any peculiar odour, take it to the nearest service station. Odours mean something inappropriate is going on.
Have the oil and oil filter changed at least every 6 months. Many times an inspection is done during the oil change. It’s worth it to pay a little extra if you have to and have this done. The air filter should also be changed when it gets dirty.
No matter how non-car savvy you may have felt in the past, finding that you can do some simple maintenance checks puts you in the driver’s seat. You’re likely to discover in advance if your car has a problem that should be taken care of immediately.