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The Complete Guide To Caring For Your Car

Having a car requires huge commitment and regular car washes are not enough. By ensuring proper car maintenance, your car’s lifespan can be extended and undergo lesser repair works while providing you safer drives. There are no shortcuts to keeping your car in a good condition as your car would not magically take care of itself. No excuses for the lack of regular care as building a good car maintenance habit can be kickstarted anytime!

(Related Story: What Should I Do To Care For My Car While Staying At Home)

1. Read owner’s manual

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As much as we cannot be bothered to read the terms and conditions section, the handy car owner’s manual may just be a turning point for you. With all cars built differently, this simply translates to the different maintenance required to upkeep your vehicle. The manual will provide you all the car’s details and specific care tips required. It also informs you the optimal time to bring your car in for a workshop.

2. Car wash

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Be it a commercial or home car wash, bathing your car regularly is important especially since the acidic bird droppings can be baked into our cars. Start by rinsing your car before soaping to remove and soften the dirt. Avoid circling the surface when cleaning as it could create scratches, instead, clean horizontally. Do not miss out on the little gaps on the car, such as the windshield area and in between the tyres.

After washing the car, be sure to wipe down the water using an absorbent microfibre cloth so as to prevent water marks when it dries up. Finally, give the interior a good clean up so as to keep pests out. Car polishing is not necessary unless there are fine scratches or if the paint has been oxidised.

Tip: Make sure that you use the right cleaning fluid and tools so that your effort does not go to waste.

Bonus tip: Have wet wipes ready in your car to clean up any bird droppings in a timely manner.

3. Windscreen wipers

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Windscreen wipers are especially important in providing a clear view of the road on rainy days or when cleaning off gunk with the washer fluid. Ensure that you top up your washer bottle in the right amount of water and windscreen washer solution. If your wiper blades are no longer doing its job or have visible splits, a replacement should be made.

Tip: Household detergents should never be used in place of proper washer fluid as it can damage your wipers and windscreen.

4. Headlights, tail-lights & indicators

Image Source: International Driving Authority

Having functional lights are crucial for the safety of the driver and the likes of others, and should not be overlooked. Make it a point to check out your head- and tail-lights along with your interior lights.

Tip: If you do not have someone to help spot the condition of your lights, simply shine it against the wall and you will be able to have them checked on your own.

5. Air filter

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Air filters provide air flow to your car’s engines and are responsible for preventing dust and air particulates from clogging them up. Having dirty air filters could shorten your car’s lifespan and result in a loss of power, reduced performance and fuel wastage.

6. Tyres

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As your tyres are constantly worked and undergo wear and tear, it is important to maintain proper tyre pressure to keep you safe on the roads. Find out the recommended tyre pressure for your car by accessing it in your owner’s manual or on the panel inside the driver’s side door.

Rotate your tyres from time to time to even out the wear of the drive wheels and non-drive ones. If you are unsure of when to do so, your handy manual will tell you exactly when.

Tip: A poorly inflated tyre, be it over- or under-inflated, results in reduced handling and performance of your car along with fuel inefficiency.

7. Brakes

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Placing all the trust in your car’s brake system in preventing you from giving other cars a good kiss, mean that it is ever more so important to have the brakes checked. While you are ensuring that your brakes are working in good condition, be sure to change the brake fluid if required.

If your dashboard brake light comes on or if you have to press all the way down for the brake to react, they are obvious indicators that your brakes may be faulty.

8. Engine oil level

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As one of the main car care routines, having your engine oil replenished is essential as it facilitates the smooth working of engine parts by coating them. The engine oil also washes away debris and dirt found in the engine. If the oil level is too low, friction will be generated between the moving parts and wear them out.

Tip: The colour of your engine oil should be black or brown. If residue or a chunky texture is felt when rubbing the oil between your fingers, your engine oil should be changed as it probably indicates residue buildup.

9. Batteries

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Although your car’s batteries do not frequently die out, it pays to have them checked in a timely fashion. Take note of the terminals for any corrosion or mineral build-up, and have them cleaned out with a battery terminal cleaning brush. Maintaining your batteries can help extend its battery life and lower your overall car maintenance cost.

When engaging in a battery check, pay attention to your surroundings and never do so in the near presence of a naked flame or a lit cigarette as batteries produce an explosive gas when charged.

Tip: The proper way to disconnect the batteries is to first disconnect the negative terminals to avoid an electrical short circuit. When you are ready to connect them again, do the reverse and connect the positive terminal first.

10. Spark plugs

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Spark plugs are required for a car to function and though they may not wear out as quickly, having a dysfunctional one will affect your engine. It is advisable to have the plugs checked every 30,000 miles.

11. Fuel

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Despite the varied fuel choices available at pump stations, getting the right rating fuel for your car will allow your car to do its job just fine, without wasting any additional money on a higher rated octane which may connote greater power. The fuel type suitable for your vehicle can be again found in your owner’s manual.

12. Usage

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Good driving habits are definitely desirable for others on the road as well as yourself. The way you drive can negatively affect the gears of your vehicle, such as abrupt starts and stops.

Being mindful of where your car is parked is equally important as it determines the exposure to unwanted heat damage, bird droppings, fades on paint jobs or even scratches by other passing cars or pedestrians.

Tip: Getting a sun shade for your car may be a good idea for the everyday-sunny-day, both for the exterior and interior of your car, including the prevention of uncomfortable hot seats for afternoon drives.

13. Filing receipts

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Instead of throwing away or randomly chucking aside the repair and servicing receipts handed to you, it may be a better idea to compile and file them neatly. This is especially beneficial in tracking your service history on when the next visit to the workshop may be required, and in the resale value where maintenance done to your car will be preferred.

14. Insurance

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Factoring in the costs incurred should not be your main priority when it comes to insurance coverage. Skimping on proper coverage could result in detrimental effects and a big dent to your pockets in the long run.

(Related Story: The Ultimate Insurance Guide)

We cannot stress the importance of car maintenance enough which ensures you the safety, reliability and performance of your car while on the roads. Furthermore, regular vehicle check-ups help you save on expensive repairs and minimise road emergencies. At the end of the road, you will also be able to realise a higher resale value.

Never put off caring for your car especially when there are warning signs that something is wrong with your vehicle.

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