The 2 minute car service that will save you hundreds
For most of us, cars get us from A to B and carry ‘stuff’. You put fuel in it, take it to the mechanic when the book says so (well, sometimes). In return, it gets you to where you need to go without causing a fuss. End of story, right?
This would be a short article if this were 100% true.
Cars are generally thought of as a guy thing, as though vehicles are built into the gender differences; men are from Maserati, women are from Vera Wang. But this isn’t true. Cars are non-discriminatory; they don’t care who loves them, just as long as they’re loved. If you listen, your vehicle is singing sweetly to lure you under the bonnet and it’s worth dollars to you to have a look. There’s nothing to be afraid of; it’s actually really straightforward.
Now, before you lay a single wrench upon a bolt, here is the all-important disclaimer: I am referring to basic maintenance here. Leave the engine rebuilds to the professionals. Cars are seriously expensive and account for a lot of the complaints we handle. A large number of breakdowns are preventable, so save yourself the expense and hassle of an unscheduled stop by following our quick and simple tips.
Get to know your vehicle
Next time you’re stuck in traffic, have a flick through your car manual in the glove box.
Do not underestimate this book! It contains everything specific to your vehicle in non-scary words; oil type, tyre pressure, how to change a light globe, frequency of servicing and what the little red engine light on your dash means when it’s lit up (it’s bad, by the way).
To keep your car purring, here is a rough guide for the do-it-yourself checks to add to your calendar.
6 month servicing
Scheduled servicing should be done twice a year so mark it in your calendar as a reminder.
Regular servicing may not be frequent enough to uncover potential problems such as radiator fluid leaking (causing engine overheating and damage). One morning per month, before you start your car, take two minutes to do the below quick six checks (five if your car is a manual).
To simplify the process, many modern cars have colour coded parts for easy identification. If your car doesn’t, ask your mechanic to show you or look in the manual.
Firstly, get some paper towels and wear gloves if you don’t want to get a bit greasy.
- Oil level – pull out the oil dipstick, wipe it with the paper towel, push it in and out again and look at the two marks near the end of the stick (one is maximum, the other minimum). The oil should be clear and between the two marks.
- Brake fluid – it’s usually a small, clear tub with an easy-to-remove top. Make sure the fluid is above the minimum line.
- Radiator coolant level – unwind the cap to the radiator. The coolant should be green or red and very close to the top. Do not open if the engine is hot.
- Water in wipers – usually located near the driver’s window. Keep it topped up. Transmission fluid for automatic vehicles – there’s another dipstick to pull out. The fluid must be clear. (Note, manual vehicles do not use this fluid).
- Look under your car – for any recent, wet drips as this could be a sign of something serious such as an oil leak.
If you spot any issue during these checks, book your car in to visit its doctor.
- Tyres – check your tyre pressure each time you refuel. Your manual will tell you how many PSI to put into each tyre. Keeping your tyres inflated assists in fuel economy, handling in poor conditions and makes them stronger against damage.
- Wash windows – inside and out for better visibility. You’ll be surprised how dirty they get.
- Keep interior clean – remove or secure any loose, heavy items because, in a crash, they could cause fatal injury. Keeping your car free of unnecessary objects can also help with fuel economy.
You can avoid the most costly and disruptive breakdowns by completing scheduled servicing and these simple do-it-yourself checks. However, despite this, cars will still have major mechanical failures and if you do encounter costly car repairs, contact Handle My Complaint to see if we can negotiate a better deal.
Got a tip on how to take car of your car? Let us know here.
If you encounter any issues with your car, car provider, or mechanic, you can lodge a complaint with us and we’ll make sure you follow the correct process.
We’re here to help you handle it, just say the magic words 'Help Me Handle It'.