- Cars require regular monitoring and maintenance
- Even DIY checks are not difficult – or go to an expert
- Handy list of maintenance basics for non-experts
PRETORIA, South Africa – So you bought a set of wheels, complete with new car smell, all the bells and whistles, and messages of congrats from family and friends wishing you miles of smiles. Your pride and joy is, however, not going to take care of itself.
It requires regular monitoring and maintenance to stay in tip-top shape.
“Knowing a bit about how your car works is very empowering,” says mom and mechanic Mulalo Tshidino, who works in the servicing department at one of Ford’s leading South African dealerships.
“While regular servicing and major repairs are best left to the experts there are plenty of things you can, and should, monitor and maintain yourself,” she says. “If you’re in doubt about something, just check your owner’s manual. It has all the information you need on what consumables to use, what falls under the warranty and service plan, what the various warning lights mean, and loads more.”
Ford Motor Company offers these practical tips to ensure your new ride not only looks great, but runs smoothly for years to come – so here are some tips to everybody, Ford owner or not…
Paint and bodywork
Wash your car with a quality car-wash product and lukewarm water. Rinse the bodywork once a week if you are unable to do a full wash. Then check the paintwork for chips and scratches and have any damage attended to immediately. Failure to do so could cause corrosion.
Windscreen and wipers
Clear vision of the road is critical so always get any chip or crack on your windscreen fixed as soon as possible – small cracks can grow and that could mean a whole new windscreen.
If your windscreen has suffered sand-blasting – what appears to be millions of tiny sparkly particles in the glass which are especially distracting when driving towards the sun – the reduced clarity can seriously compromise your vision and the entire windscreen should be replaced.
You should only top up your washer fluid reservoir with windshield washer fluid. Other fluids can damage the washer/wiper system. If you use water in the reservoir and it freezes it can clog and damage the reservoir and hoses. If your wipers leave streaks on your windscreen it’s time to replace them.
Ask a friend to stand outside your car and help you check your lights. This includes headlights, brights, daytime running lights, brake lights, reversing lights, and indicators. All your car’s lights should be working; replace any blown globes. Brake-light globes fail occasionally because of the stress of their job.
Unless you have mechanical knowledge, don’t try to replace a faulty bulbs on your own – it’s a tricky job and you don’t want to damage the light fixture.
Water and oil are the lifeblood of your engine; check the levels of both, as well as the coolant level, every time you fill up at the fuel pump. If your coolant and oil levels are low you may have a leak somewhere.
Tyres connect your car to the road – you really need to know they are in good shape. Check tyre pressures every two weeks, when your tyres are cold. You’ll find the recommended pressures on a sticker on the inside edge of the driver’s door.
Check you have enough tread on your tyres; they should be replaced when the grooves reduce to 2mm.; make sure your spare wheel is properly inflated and that the jack and wheel-nut spanner are in the car.
Steering and brakes
If you feel a vibration throughthe steering-wheel, or if your steering pulls to one side or the other, it could indicate a wheel-alignment problem. If the brake pedal feels soft or spongy, if your car pulls to one or other side under braking, or if you hear a grinding or squealing sound, have an auto technician investigate.
The handbrake shouldn’t click more than four times before it holds your car.
A regular safety check at an auto centre is a quick and effective way to identify potentially dangerous issues or defects before they cause major problems. These checks are also crucial before a long journey.
They cover not only the state of your tyre pressures and tread depth, but also your shock-absorbers, brake fluid, brake pads and discs, battery, and the condition of your exhaust. Your car brand’s dealerships or auto fitting centres offer these safety checks free before major holidays.