Why is vehicle maintenance important? If you are a home owner then that will most likely be the biggest financial investment that you will make, followed by your car. However if you aren’t a home owner then your car will more than likely be the biggest financial investment that you will make, so it makes sense to protect and look after your investment by carrying out some basic vehicle maintenance to help ensure a trouble free life.
Even if you aren’t mechanically minded, or even have no intentions of becoming so, the importance of vehicle maintenance is still your responsibility.
Why, you ask? Why is vehicle maintenance important? Like I have just mentioned, it’s a form of insurance for your car. It’s like the security guards at your favourite night club, they are there to prevent any trouble from happening before it occurs. Vehicle maintenance is not any different, it helps to prevent any trouble from occurring with your car, that may result in some rather costly repairs.
What steps can you take in regards to vehicle maintenance? Ensure that your vehicle is regularly serviced. Your owner’s manual may specify that the service intervals are every 10,000kms to 15,000kms. I would suggest that as a bare minimum you ensure your vehicle is serviced at those intervals and that the service is carried out as per the relevant service schedule. I would, however, recommend that you take your servicing to the next level and have an intermediate service carried out. Generally these intermediate services are performed in between the scheduled services, every 5,000kms to 7,500kms, depending on your vehicles recommended service schedule. An intermediate service is normally performed as a basic oil and filter change as well as a basic check over of the vehicle.
You don’t know how to do an oil change and you don’t want to know, I hear you say? That’s fine, that is why we mechanics are here. That is what we do everyday and that is what we get paid to do. However, do you realise that there are some basic checks that even a mechanically illiterate person can learn and perform?
I strongly believe that if you drive a car, own a car or simply have your driver’s licence, then it is your responsibility to be able to carry out some basic vehicle maintenance. The checks that follow are simple enough that anyone is capable of learning, and I mean anyone. Checks you can perform are as follows:
- Keep your windscreen clean, it’s easier to avoid accidents if you can see.
- Check that all of your headlights, indicators, tail lights, reverse lights and stop lights work.
- Check the air pressure in your tyres regularly, at a minimum check them monthly.
- Whilst you are at your tyres, have a look at the tread depth and overall condition of your tyres. Organise to have them replaced if the tread is too low or the tyre is damaged, it may prevent an accident.
- Open the bonnet and check under there. Check the engine oil level. If it is low top it up to the correct level with the correct oil for that engine.
- Check the level of the cooling system and top it up if necessary. If the level is low, investigate the reason/s why and have them rectified, as a low coolant level can lead to overheating your engine and cause major engine damage.
- Check and refill the windscreen washer bottle.
- Check the Power Steering Fluid reservoir.
- Check and top up the Brake Fluid level. ONLY use brake fluid to top up the brake fluid reservoir. DO NOT USE OIL, oil will destroy any rubber seals and hoses in the braking system leading to brake failure and I don’t think I need to explain why that is BAD!!! If during the process of topping up the brake fluid you happen to spill some on the paint work, quickly rinse off the affected area with water because if left alone the brake fluid will peel the paint. Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning, it absorbs moisture, therefore by pouring water over the affected area the paint stripping nature of the brake fluid is neutralized.
Other Under bonnet checks that can easily be performed include:
- Looking for oil leaks.
- Looking for coolant leaks and stains.
- Checking the radiator and heater hoses for leaks, bulges, splits and any other abnormalities.
- Check the engine drive belt/s for cracking and fraying as well as any other damage.
How deep you go into vehicle maintenance really depends on your knowledge and abilities regarding your car. The steps I have previously mentioned are really just a basic overview of vehicle maintenance that anyone can, and should, perform. Of course if your skills and knowledge allow it, you can dive even deeper into vehicle maintenance and carry out your own maintenance routine. Performing items such as Changing and replacing the engine oil and filter, replacing the air filter, fuel filter, and cabin filter. Checking and replacing differential oils and gearbox oils, would also fall under this slightly higher skill level. If you are having your vehicle serviced regularly by a reputable workshop then those extra, more in depth maintenance items will be checked and replaced as necessary, all as part of the service.
I really do believe that anyone who has a driver’s licence, owns a car or just drives a car, should be able to perform all of the previously mentioned basic vehicle maintenance checks. Think of it like brushing your cars teeth and hair, once you know how to do it, it is easy to do.
So lets recap the areas of vehicle maintenance that you should know and understand.
- Keep your windscreen and windows clean.
- Check all of the lights on your car are in working order.
- Regularly check tyre pressure.
- Check for tyre wear and damage.
- Check the engine oil level.
- Check the cooling system level.
- Check the windscreen washer fluid level.
- Have your vehicle serviced regularly.
These checks are all fairly simple and are easily learnt. Once learnt you should be comfortably able to carry out these checks in under 15 minutes and once you learn these skills, you won’t forget them. Spending 15 minutes once or twice a month to help keep your car running smoothly is the cheapest insurance you will ever invest in, and what is even better is the satisfaction that you are actively involved in keeping your car purring like a kitten, day after day, year after year.
So why is vehicle maintenance important? If you have read this far you will now know. Hopefully this article has opened your eyes as to the importance of vehicle maintenance and encourages you to learn and carry out your own vehicle checks.
If you found this article helpful and/or entertaining then I encourage you to sign up to follow my blog, doing this will allow you to receive future blogs via email as soon as I publish them. Also have a look through previous posts for even more helpful and entertaining articles. You can also leave me a comment in the comments section and let me know your thoughts and opinions. If this article, or any of my other posts have been of any assistance to you, I would love to hear from you because I genuinely want to help YOU!
Nathan, Every Road.