This article will outline the fundamental recommended practices for keeping your car in good working order, allowing you to extend its life and enjoy safe service for well over 150,000 kilometers.
There are really no shortcuts to properly maintaining an automobile, and it does take some effort. However, I can tell you that every penny and minute you spend on your car’s care will be repaid in greater driving, ownership, and resale experiences. A very well-kept car will suit you better and prove more dependable in the long term. A healthy vehicle is also a safer one. You’ll keep it for longer, saving you a lot of money on depreciation. Keeping your automobile clean has a huge return on investment, no matter how you look at it.
On the Road:
- When it’s freezing outside, treat your car with care. Maintain a low rpm setting (less than 2,000) till the engine reaches operating temperature. This warm-up period is advantageous to more than just the engine and turbocharger; it also benefits various parts (e.g. transmission, brakes, tires, etc.)
- Adopt a smooth driving style and avoid putting too much strain on the vehicle. You should polish your steering, accelerator, clutch, brake, and gear inputs. Avoid tailgating the automobile in front of you in traffic. Maintaining a healthy distance allows for much smoother braking and deceleration. And, contrary to popular belief, even when driving fast, you can keep a smooth driving style. But on the other hand, if you drive recklessly, your car’s mechanical components will be subjected to additional stress and wear prematurely. An automobile with 100,000 kilometers on the clock will perform better than one with 50,000 kilometres on the clock.
- On bumpy roads, take it easy and drive slowly. It makes no difference if everyone else is speeding through potholes. On broken tarmac, your car takes a beating. The suspension will deteriorate faster, and rattles will infiltrate the cabin.
- You must treat your vehicle with respect. Know when to crank up the engine and when to ease up. You should only redline if the circumstances allow it. Smooth roads with no traffic are good for stretching her legs.
- Don’t drag the engine, and if your rpm is too low for the current speed, shift down. If your car struggles to cross the speed breaker in 2nd gear, shift down to 1st gear.
- On speed breakers, take it slowly. They’ve been placed there for a reason. Cross-speed dividers with little damage as possible.
- Combine the small journeys as much as possible. In short trips of 1 to 2 kilometres, your engine never quite reaches the proper operating temperature. The component wear and tear rate will be higher if you just utilise your vehicle for short journeys. On a related topic, the short distances must be WALKED up. It is beneficial to both your health and the health of your vehicle.
- Avoid traffic by driving at the appropriate time. My prior job required a 14-kilometer commute into town. I started leaving home at 8:00 a.m. to avoid rush hour traffic and was able to get to work in twenty minutes (as opposed to 60 minutes if I left at 0900 hours). Not only did I reduce time, but my car also got better gas mileage, was capable of maintaining constant speeds, required fewer gearshifts, and spent less time idling in traffic. Taking the highway early morning, on the other hand, typically results in less traffic and a more enjoyable journey (for you and your car). Take that into consideration when planning your holiday road excursions.
- Do not continue driving if you find a mechanical fault that could cause further damage to your vehicle. Spend some time attempting to figure out what’s wrong, or hire a tow truck!
- If your destination has bad roads or bad parking, take a cab! Even for outstation journeys, this technique works. When his Mercedes S-Class could easily get him there, my neighbor hires an Innova for the family journey to difficult rural areas.
- Allowing terrible drivers behind the wheel of your vehicle is not a good idea. When saying no, be strong and polite, or just state that you do not want to be a passenger in your own vehicle. Also, avoid lending your automobile out too frequently. No one cares as much about your vehicle as you do.
- Don’t overcrowd your vehicle with passengers or cargo. Overloading not only puts unnecessary strain on key components, but it’s also exceedingly dangerous.
- Make sure you’re not forcing your car to perform anything it wasn’t designed to do. In a FWD sedan, forget about your offroading ambitions. On that beach trip, avoid splashing through water because it will make for good photos.
- Use a beat-up vehicle. Use the cheapest or older car in the home for all the difficult tasks if you have two or more cars. In my family, for example, the Maruti Swift is the one that goes to airports, vegetable markets, hardware stores, and so on. As a result, the fancier automobiles look, feel, and drive better since they are not subjected to punishing drives.
- If you hire a chauffeur, limit him to one vehicle (and not all). Few chauffeurs handle cars with respect, and the majority of them drive aggressively.
At the Petrol Pump:
- Make a habit to fuel up your tank when it hits the 14-gallon mark. Don’t wait for the reserve mark or the low fuel signal to appear. In a dry tank, your gasoline pump can be fatally damaged.
- Fill her up using 100% pure gasoline or diesel. Pumps that are owned and operated by the company are highly recommended. Once you’ve found a fuel station that you like, stick with it.
- Check the level of all fluids and see if there’s anything wrong (loose wires, pipe, etc.). Also, check the air pressure. These modest steps will go a long way toward keeping your car in excellent condition.
- Keep an eye on your gas mileage. There is no better sign of a vehicle’s health than its fuel economy. If the FE starts to drop, that’s your first sign that something is awry.
Keeping her Mechanically Tight:
- Keep track of your servicing history and schedule. This will serve as a ready reckoner and guidance when your motor clocks up the kilometres.
- When buying an automobile, always choose an extended warranty. Smaller defects will be rectified by skilled labour and original parts at the approved service station, even if the vehicle is in its fourth or fifth year of ownership. Knowing you’re covered by a warranty will help you solve problems quickly (human psychology). Another advantage is that while your automobile is under warranty, you must adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals.
- Repair mechanical problems as soon as they arise. Don’t put it off any longer. These issues are likely to worsen, posing a serious threat to other mechanical components or (possibly) your safety. For example, if the front suspension is making an excessive amount of noise, have it inspected first before ball joints make room and the car loses control. Don’t drive with the check engine light illuminated. Repair the faulty cooling fan as soon as possible. A car is made up of various wear-and-tear parts that will need to be replaced at some point. Maintaining your car’s mechanical condition will provide you with a great deal of satisfaction.
- Select the appropriate garage or service station. During the warranty term, and possibly a little after, most car owners adhere to authorized service stations.
- Make friends with the service representative. Ascertain that he is aware that you are a knowledgeable car owner who will not tolerate poor workmanship. Maintain a courteous and firm approach when speaking with him. When you drop off your automobile, hand over a printed checklist and go over each point one by one. Before you pay for your car and take delivery, go over this checklist.
Schedule, Parts & Labour:
- Use only original or equivalent-quality parts from trustworthy manufacturers. Cheaper ripoffs should be avoided at all costs. Purchase spare parts from the corporate workshop or reputable outlets.
- The single biggest thing you can do for the health of your car is to replace the engine oil on a regular basis. Always stick to the manufacturer’s suggested oil change intervals. Personally, I am not a fan of the new 15,000-kilometer intervals and would prefer to change the oil every 7,500–10,000 kilometers.
- If you have a heavy right foot or plan to keep your car for a long period, choose synthetic oil. Synthetic oil is far superior in terms of lubricating and cooling characteristics, but it isn’t required.
- Clean or replace your air filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations (dirt is bad for your engine & turbo). The same goes for all liquids (brake, transmission, radiator, etc.). Importantly, adhere to the specified minimum and maximum levels. Excessive oil can sometimes be just as harmful as not enough oil.
- At least once a year, service / top up your batteries and cleanse their terminals (white acidic buildup). Authorized servicing stations frequently overlook this area.
- Balance, align and rotate your wheels (including spares) on a regular basis. This is something I do every 10,000 kilometers.
- Tyres are normally near the end of their service life in Indian driving conditions when they are 6 years old or have travelled 40,000 kilometres (recommended) – 50,000 kms (absolute maximum). Even if you still have tread depth, the rubber has hardened and the gripping component has worn out by this point. It’s worth noting that some performance tyres degrade much faster. If the tread on your tyre has worn out, replace it right away.
- On all tyres, use valve caps. They aren’t just for show, either. Valve caps assist avoid slow leaks by keeping dust and grime out of the valve area.
- Replace your windshield wipers every year or two years (whichever comes first) (maximum). They harden as time passes and as they are exposed to the sun.
Keeping her Shiny & Clean:
- Cleanliness is second only to Godliness in importance. Maintain the cleanliness of your vehicle. You should wash your automobile on a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly basis, depending on your usage. If you hire a car wash, give him a tip to pay “particular attention” to your vehicle. A handy cleaning equipment is the Jopasu automobile duster.
- A filthy interior tells a lot about the owner of the vehicle. It also takes away the fun of driving. Maintain a spotless interior and get it detailed along with the exterior. On the forum, using a vacuum cleaner is strongly recommended. Excessive stuff that clutters the inside of your car should be avoided. Place any goods you need in the car neatly in the glovebox or storage bins.
- At minimum once a year, have tiny to medium dents corrected. This also helps to prevent the production of rust. In a similar vein, get rid of any rust spots while they’re still small. For all denting and painting needs, choose a reputable body shop; ill-fitted body panels and parts cause rattles and are unsightly. It’s best to go with the same colour scheme while repainting. Changing the outside hue necessitates a thorough cleaning. Factory fit is exactly that: factory fit. As a result, an overcoat is a lot better choice.
- Select a secure parking spot. Direct sunshine is detrimental to paint, plastics, and leather, so park in the shade. Get a car cover if the area where you park is too unkempt. It may appear to be a headache at first, but it quickly becomes a habit. Consider yourself fortunate if you have a closed parking spot.
- For a better parking spot, tip the valet. This is how I obtain a decent parking spot 9 out of 10 times when I go out to lunch.
There’s nothing quite like a gleaming 6+ year old car that shines & drives tight.