Why a little maintenance can go a long way
Your car, unlike those of old, doesn’t ask or need much from you in the way of serious maintenance or attention.
That’s the way its makers want it. Modern cars are a work of impressive complexity, with enough computer power to manage a space mission. Expert hands are needed to fettle them, not those that are made of ham.
There are, though, some things you can do to keep your car fitter, happier and healthier, and make your mechanic’s life easier. You might even save some cash.
Most of us spend a lot on fuel – on average about $2,000 a year, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics household-expenditure surveys.
With tyres naturally losing their pressure, and under-inflated tyres increasing fuel use, maintaining correct pressure is the simplest way to make sure you don’t spend more on fuel than you need to. And because over-inflation leads to increased wear, a weekly tyre-pressure check will also ensure you get the maximum mileage from your tyres.
A visual inspection should be part of any pressure-check ritual. The discovery of unusual wear patterns could be the vital factor in identifying a developing problem before the cost blows out. Finding cuts, bulges or other issues when you’re parked is a safer, and likely cheaper, way than finding out via a puncture or blowout.
Oil is your engine’s lifeblood and a key indicator to its condition. While an oil change will be part of your car servicer’s job, regular dipstick checks between services can offer a heads-up of developing issues.
All cars consume oil, some up to a litre between changes, but a sudden change in consumption is reason to seek advice. Oil naturally darkens from its amber hue as the kilometres rack up but if it’s turning black, or thickening noticeably well before your next service, a more frequent oil-change schedule might be warranted. If it looks creamy or milky, you’ll want to get on to your mechanic pronto because serious problems are afoot.
Keeping on top of your car’s brake fluid, power-steering fluid, transmission fluid and engine coolant is just as important as checking your oil. The three former systems aren’t designed to consume their fluids, so dropping levels are a pointer to a leak or bigger problem. Coolant systems do consume a little fluid but not a lot, so be wary of significant drops.
A battery can actually discharge across grime and dirt on its casing, so keeping it clean will maximise its life. Terminals, clamps and cables need to be regularly checked for loose connections, corrosion or other issues that could become more troublesome down the track. If it’s a serviceable battery, electrolyte levels should be monitored and kept topped up to the maximum safe level with distilled water.
A stitch in time…
Damage or other issues with your car tend not to get cheaper to fix when they’re neglected. So touch up that small paint chip before it turns to rust or remove those leaves from the under-bonnet area before they lead to corrosion or block the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. If your checks raise questions, or you hear or feel something you haven’t before, don’t be afraid to ask your mechanic.
Maintenance costs less with Smartleasing
Smartleasing offers a Vehicle Maintenance Program that ensures you’ll save up to 30% on servicing for the life of the lease. And because our maintenance specialists authorise all work before it’s carried out, you’ll only ever pay for the work your car needs.