Car maintenance checks to keep your car in tip-top shape

Love your car and it will love you back. That’s an unwritten rule of car ownership. Regular maintenance is the secret sauce to ensuring your car remains your reliable companion for many years to come. It's about safety, efficiency, and avoiding those expensive repairs. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how you can keep your car in pristine condition.

Check under the bonnet

Make sure your oil level isn’t too low: Think of oil as the lifeblood of your car. It keeps everything running smoothly. Checking the oil level every month is a good practice. If it's low or looks dirty, it's time for a change.

To check your oil, ensure your car is on level ground and the engine is cool. Pull out the dipstick, wipe it clean, insert it again, and pull it out to see the oil level. It should be between the min and max marks. If it’s low or looks black and gritty, it’s time for a change.

Top up your coolant: South Africa's sun doesn't play games, and neither should you with your coolant levels. It prevents your car from overheating. Checking it is simple: The coolant reservoir is usually transparent, with min and max markings on the side. Check it without removing the radiator cap, as this can be dangerous when hot. If the level is low, top it up with a mix of water and antifreeze. This simple check can save your engine from overheating.

TIP: You can ask your petrol attendant to do these checks. It’ll take them five minutes. If they say that you need oil, be sure to double-check what kind of oil your particular engine needs – you shouldn’t just put any oil in.

Keep an eye on your tyres

Make sure your tyres are nicely pumped and that the tread is good to go: Properly inflated tyres mean better fuel efficiency and safer trips. The correct pressure information can be found on a sticker inside the driver’s door or in your car’s manual.

And for the tyre treads? A simple coin test can tell you if it's time for new tyres. Slide a 2 Rand coin into the tyre grooves. If the outer band is hidden, your tread is good. If it's visible, you should consider new tyres.

Rotate them regularly and check their alignment: Ever noticed your car pulling to one side? This might mean that your tyres need to be aligned. Regular tyre rotation and alignment ensure even wear and longer tyre life, saving you money and keeping you safe on the road.

TIP: Tyre rotation should be done every 10,000 to 12,000 km, or as recommended by your tyre manufacturer. Wheel alignment, on the other hand, is a bit more technical and usually requires a visit to a professional. It’s best to take your car to your nearest tyre shop if this is something you pick up.

Make sure your brake pads don't need replacement

Listen and feel for signs like squeaking, grinding, or a soft pedal – these may indicate it's time for a check-up. Don't ignore these signs. Your brakes are literally your car's lifeline. Regular checks are non-negotiable for safe driving.

Are all your lights and signals working?

For lights, do a walk-around with a friend or family member. Turn on your headlights, brake lights, and indicators while they check if all are working. Don’t forget the reverse lights! Replacing bulbs is usually straightforward, but your car’s manual can provide specific instructions if needed.

Regularly test your battery

A dead battery is a no-go. Check for corrosion and ensure the connections are tight and clean. If your car struggles to start, it might be time for a new battery. Better safe than sorry, especially when you're running late. It’s best to get this checked out every time you take your car for a service (which should be yearly).

TIP: It's recommended to test your car battery at least twice a year. A good practice is to do so before the peak of summer and again before winter.

Replace your wipers every 6-12 months

Ever been caught in a Highveld thunderstorm with bad wipers? Not fun. Lift the wiper arms and inspect the rubber on the blades for cracks or tears. Run your finger along the blade to feel for rough spots. If they’re not smooth, they won’t clear the windshield effectively and should be replaced.

For washer fluid, pop open the reservoir cap and top up with a proper windshield washer solution to ensure you can always keep the glass clear.

A little effort goes a long way

A bit of TLC for your car doesn’t just keep it running; it keeps you safe. These simple checks and maintenance tasks can make a world of difference in your car’s performance and longevity. Remember, prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to car care.

For overall protection and peace of mind, it's wise to consider getting comprehensive car insurance. With Naked, this doesn't have to be a lengthy or complicated process. In fact, you can get a car insurance quote in just 90 seconds and buy on the spot. It’s that simple. This way, you make sure that your car remains not only well-maintained but also well-protected against the unpredictable.

Car maintenance