Despite new car sales reaching a record high earlier in the year, and some drivers getting a new model every 12 months, there is great value to be had in looking after your car and keeping it on the road for longer.
Like mobile phones, cars have become more disposable in recent years thanks to attractive finance and leasing deals that let you exchange them after a few years. But while it’s great to get a brand new car every year or so, nothing beats owning a car you can truly call your pride and joy.
If you’re fond of your car and don’t want to see it on the scrapheap just yet, here are some simple tips on how to look after it until it’s safely over the hill.
- Follow the Owner’s Manual
- Find a Mechanic Your Can Trust and Stick with Them
- Change Oil and Filter Every 6 Months or Every 3,000 Miles
- Keep Tabs on Belts
- Flush the Cooling System Every 12 Months
Follow the Owner’s Manual
If you’re serious about helping your car go the extra mile, your first port of call ought to be the owner’s manual. Tailored to the specific requirements of your car, the manual offers information on what needs servicing and when, as well as how to carry out basic maintenance to keep the vehicle in a roadworthy condition. For those keen to keep their car on the road as long as possible, the manual is the ultimate troubleshooting guide — so don’t throw it away!
Find a Mechanic Your Can Trust and Stick with Them
As your car gets older and the mileage starts to ramp up, you could find yourself in need of a mechanic on a regular basis — so it pays to have one you can trust. Even if their services are a little more expensive than other garages, you should judge a mechanic on their professionalism and not on their prices. The average age of a car on the UK roads is 7 years, and keeping a car running for longer than that does involve some budgeting, but maintaining it and having regular services can help you save money in the long term, because you’ll spot problems before they turn into big expenses. A good mechanic will give you peace of mind that you’re getting value for money.
Change Oil and Filter Every 6 Months or Every 3,000 Miles
Every driver knows how important engine oil is to their car, but we’d wager few change their oil as often as is recommended. To stop your car dying an early death, change the oil and filter every 6 months, or every 3,000 miles depending on your driving habits. Engine oil dirties after so long, and contaminants can lead to premature wear and tear. If you remember to change the oil at regular intervals, you stand to get double the mileage from your older car.
Keep Tabs on Belts
While it’s not necessary to change the drive and timing belts as regularly as other components, you need to keep an eye on them and make sure they’re regularly serviced. Both of these belts play a key role beneath the bonnet, and are expensive to replace if they break. Sadly, neither belt presents much in the way of symptoms to suggest they’re on the way out, so that’s why it’s important to have them serviced regularly. Visual signs to tell you trouble is brewing include abrasion, cuts and chunks missing from the surface and edge of the belts. Should you or your mechanic notice any of these problems, replace the belt before it worsens.
Flush the Cooling System Every 12 Months
Even the best coolant/antifreeze can only protect aluminium components against corrosion for so long, so you should change the solution at least once a year to keep the cylinder head, manifold, water pump and engine block in good condition. To change your engine’s coolant/antifreeze, first you’ll need to flush the entire cooling system — which you can do at home (this guide is great if you fancy having a go yourself). Once you’ve done this, replace the solution with a high quality coolant/antifreeze that offers lasting protection against corrosion.
The simplest way to keep your engine working at its best is to add a shot of Redex to the fuel each time you fill up. Developed for use in petrol and diesel cars, Redex helps your engine run more smoothly — saving fuel and lowering emissions in the process. To find out more, visit the Redex website.