Modern day vehicles are expensive!
One way to avoid the headaches of purchasing a new vehicle is by properly maintaining your existing car or bakkie.
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Not only will you save money by doing regular maintenance, but it can also prevent unexpected mechanical failures. Nobody wants to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night during a rainstorm. Keeping up with your vehicles needs are very important when it comes to a happy ownership experience, and luckily there’s quite a bit the average motorist can do to keep their vehicle running in top shape.
Lubricating Door latches
I know, I know…This maintenance tip won’t necessarily extend your car’s lifespan very much, but it sure can keep it from getting on your nerves.
Squeaky hinges are irritating and can make doors and hatches difficult to open. Fortunately this problem is quick to correct with a good spray lubricant, such as Q20. Not only is this fix easy, it’s cheap too.
Remember not too much, as the old saying goes…too much of a good thing…Might not always be a good thing
Changing an Air filter
Noisy hinges may be an insignificant maintenance item but one that’s much more important is your car’s air filter. These elements prevent dust and grit from entering the delicate internals of the engine. Luckily these are generally quite simple and not expensive to change.
Air filter cleaning kits can be bought from as little as R275. Installing a new air filter is an easy way of insuring your engine has a good supply of fresh air. If you want a little extra performance and to help our environment you can invest in a washable, high-flow filter.
Checking Tyre Pressure
Tyres are the only part of your car that should ever touch the road — actually they are the only part that SHOULD ever touch the road. Keeping your car’s rubber properly inflated is critical to safe driving and longer tyre life.
Traction and stability can be affected by tyres that are either over or underinflated. Having a good pressure gauge is the only way of properly keeping tabs on this. You can get a simple analogue unit or even a battery operated unit with a digital display.
Some units even come with a thread depth gauge to see how long your thread will last, any of these will do the deed without breaking the bank.
But wait… there is more you as a motorist can do with your tyres. Rotating your tyres can increase the number of kilometers they will last, thus saving you money in the long run. Rotation may be done every 8000 to 12 500 kms.
However, each manufacturer has recommended tyre rotation intervals, listed in their owner’s manual, dependent on the design and purpose of your vehicle. All that you will need for this task is a socket or lug wrench for loosening the lug nuts, a good quality jack and some jack stands for safety, oh yes, and lastly a bit of patience.
Tyre rotation involves removing every wheel.
A serpentine belt is what powers all of your vehicles accessories.
It takes the engine’s rotation from the crankshaft pulley and uses it to turn other parts like the water pump, alternator and air-conditioning compressor. Without a belt the engine would likely overheat, the battery would die and you’d be terribly uncomfortable in summer heat.
Changing your serpentine belt can be accomplished with basic hand tools in just a few minutes. Additionally these rubber components are very affordable so there is no excuse for not taking care of this item.
Replacing Spark-Plug Wires (if equipped) or Coil packs
Spark-plug wires are a critical engine component. They conduct tens of thousands of volts of electricity from your engine’s coil to its spark plugs.
Over time, heat and vibration can break these wires down, leading to potential drivability issues including misfires. If your vehicle is equipped with plug wires, it’s a good idea to change them when the manufacturer recommends due to wear and tear maybe around every two to three years or if you vehicle misfires. When replacing your spark plug wires, consult your vehicle repair guide for a wiring diagram.
You must be sure to connect each wire in the proper sequence on both the distributor cap/coil and the cylinder head. Luckily this is usually an easy task..If you can plug a lamp into a wall socket you can probably change Spark-plug wires.
On newer cars we get Coil packs, now these won’t give you too much trouble. Typically, coil packs break down due to insulation failures, which could mean moisture damage, high voltage breakdowns, cracks developed in plastic casings/body etc.
When that happens, it might be better to replace them in full set if you don’t want unanticipated breakdowns and subsequent calls to replace the remaining original coil pack
Swapping Spark Plugs
While you’re under the hood it might be a good idea to change the spark plugs as well.
This task is a little more challenging as they can be quite hard to access in some vehicles. More adventurous motorists that are up to the challenge may find the job rewarding, This can also improve performance and fuel economy.
Many vehicles these days come with spark plugs that are equipped with platinum or iridium tipped electrodes. These should be changed every 60 000 -100 000kms. Remember not to over tighten these plugs as they can break off in the head, always refer to the torque specs (usually around 25 nm)
Performing Brake Replacement
What good is a vehicle that goes but can’t stop!!!!
Any proudly South African that’s ever had another car pull out in front of them knows that brakes are mission-critical to safe driving and avoiding hitting into or being hit by another vehicle . Motorists that want to save some money can do their own brake replacement relatively easily with a few basic tools.
With proper instructions changing your car’s rotary discs and pads, drums and brake shoes is affordable and relatively simple.
What are you waiting for?
As previously mentioned, an abundant supply of clean air is important to efficient driving and the exact same is true of clean fuel. Replacing your car’s fuel filter is a simple way of keeping it running properly.
Dirty filters can restrict flow and cause driving issues. A damaged filter can even allow contaminants to enter your vehicle’s fuel injectors causing even more issues, leading to expensive repairs. It can also affect your pump due to flow restrictions.
Head off these woes by changing your fuel filter.
Changing your vehicle’s oil is one of the simplest and most effective ways of keeping it running well for many years to come. A good quality lubricant will protect internal components from the damaging effects of friction, heat and other by-products.
A premium filter will prevent any particles from damaging delicate internal components.
Finally, one of the best recommendations we can make is picking up a good service manual.
These books offer valuable advice on how to repair and maintain your car. They will walk you through easy as well as complicated procedures one step at a time, so you can succeed in making necessary repairs.
A service manual is a smart investment if you plan on keeping your vehicle after the factory warranty expires.
Written By Althea Kruger