Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Getting the best out of your car

If you take the time to do a routine preventive maintenance of your car, you may prolong the vehicle’s life and avoid costly major repairs.
In order to keep your car in the best shape possible, it is imperative to keep up with the maintenance schedule that is detailed in your owner’s manual. Automobile engineers say modern cars require enough maintenance if the owner must enjoy his vehicle. According to them, many car users have not adjusted their thinking to keep pace with new car maintenance schedules. Those with tight engagements run their vehicles without service until the dash board warning light burns out, while a few affluent others fret about running synthetic oil more than 2,500 miles without a change. And most times, they do this without even knowing it.
The maintenance schedule for cars varies, but the truth is that even the newest car needs adequate maintenance if the owner desires an optimal performance. Brand new vehicles come with owner’s maintenance manuals, but fairly new or used cars at times do not come with such manuals. The Manager, Austin Auto Repairs, in Lagos, Mr. Austin Anyanwu, says car owners should take time to study their maintenance manuals, while owners of cars who don’t have manuals should adhere to the advice of qualified auto mechanics. Below are common car maintenance tips to pay attention to, according to experts:
Poor tyre inflation and rotation
Experts say many car users seldom check their tyre pressure. According to automobile mechanics, failing to check your tyre pressure, neglecting to check your tyre inflation and forgetting to rotate your tyres are the most common mistakes in car maintenance. They note that under-inflated tyres wear out faster and tyres are supposed to be rotated regularly.
It is natural for tyres to leak; so, there is the need for occasional checks. Experts say under-inflated tyres suck up gasoline. They explain that under or over-inflated tyres wear out sooner. You probably aren’t going to check tyre pressures monthly, but how about twice a year? It is important to know that front and rear tyres wear differently and should be rotated evenly. Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation on pressure and rotation periods, experts say. It is therefore important to abide by these instructions to avoid scrapping your vehicle.
Octane overdose
Some car users tend to go beyond their vehicle’s octane rating. This, according to automobile engineers, is not suitable. Here, the rule is to supply whatever octane the engine is rated for and call it done. Higher-than-required octane does not yield more power or mileage, only the oil company profits, experts say.
Some engines are rated for premium 91 octane fuel but can burn 87 octane regular, as a result of the magic of knock sensors in most vehicles. In that case, experts advise that you run regular fuel, puttering around surface streets and premium fuel if full-throttle driving is part of your daily repertoire.
Failing to keep oil change timing
The average car owner needs to understand that oil is the most fundamental part of every vehicle as it keeps the engine alive. Failure to change your vehicle’s engine oil is one of the most common mistakes that people make, Anuforom says. Engineers add that many modern vehicles can go for as long as 6,000 miles before they need an oil change, but delaying oil change and driving for too long after the last oil change can damage your vehicle’s engine.
Some mechanics say having an oil change every 3,000 miles used to be the required standard, but today, improvements in engine designs and lubricants make oil changes something to be done when the schedule calls for it, not when anyone says it’s time. According to experts, some cars call for 5,000-mile change intervals, while some others may go up to 15,000 miles before changing the oil. Meanwhile, some others have a variable timer.
Using weak tyres
Weak or worn out tyres are seen on many vehicles nowadays. This ought not to be, experts say. It is not just dangerous to the occupants of the vehicle, but also unsafe for other road users. According to experts, tyres wear out, but they also time out. The tyre industry says tyres expire after five years, but the irony is that some of them are selling tyres even after their expiration dates. However, experts say it all depends on heat, sunlight and ozone conditions. But if you are not sure how old your tyres are, a tyre shop can read the date code stamped into the sidewall and get you adequately informed.
Ignoring your brakes
It is very wise to be conscious of your brakes. This is because the brakes of a car are its first line of defence. So, if you notice anything different about your brakes, like sound, feel or response, they are telling you to visit a mechanic. Failing to have your brakes under check can be sometimes hazardous. Brakes are the most crucial components of any vehicle, and their proper maintenance should not be avoided or ignored under any circumstance.
Experts say if you find your brakes humming or the fluid in the master cylinder is low, get them checked as soon as possible. It is dangerous to drive a car which has poor brakes. This should be abhorred! Get your brakes working properly, because you are not just saving you life, but saving the lives of other road users.
culled from Punch

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