The difference between a person with a 10+ year old car that still works well, and someone with a 2-year old car that’s already falling apart, isn’t usually the car model or the cost – it’s all about maintenance.
However, many car owners, especially if it’s your first car, think that all it takes to maintain a car is to take it to service and maybe check the oil when you remember too. However, not having a regular routine is what creates problems that are damaging to your car overtime and costly to fix.
Luckily, there are things that you can do on a regular basis that will help your car last longer. Here are 10 to get you started.
1. Change your car oil:
Even the most ignorant car owner knows that they need to change the oil. Nothing will help an engine last longer than regularly checking and changing your oil and filter. Likewise, neglecting to check your oil levels or put in fresh oil will ensure that soon enough your engine will fail.
Benefits of regularly changing your oil include:
- Oil is a lubricant, and therefore reduces friction between different car parts
- Oil absorbs heat that is produced in the engine, thus, preventing overheating
- Oil prevents rusting and corrosion of car parts
2. Take care of your cooling system:
Especially in a hot country like Tanzania, your car’s cooling system is very important to keeping your car parts cool. While some mechanics recommend that you only check your cooling system and change your coolant once a year, because of our high temperatures, it is beneficial to have more regular check ups.
Make sure you:
- Only inspect your cooling system when the engine is cold, and NEVER when it’s hot
- Only use the recommended coolant for your vehicle, this can be found in the car manual
- Mix your coolant with distilled water, to prevent the buildup of rust and particles inside the cooling system
3. Don’t forget about the transmission oil:
Your car (engine) oil is not the only oil in your car you need to worry about. The transmission oil is also important to check regularly. However, unlike the car oil, it’s best to leave maintenance relating to the transmission to your mechanic.
Even if your mechanic is handling changing your transmission oil, make sure they:
- Fill the transmission oil to the correct level
- Check that the oil isn’t discolored or burnt
- Use the correct type of oil as prescribed in your car manual
4. Change your brake fluid:
Your brakes are one if not the most important features in ensuring your safety while driving. Unfortunately, brake fluid attracts moisture, and this causes parts of the break to corrode and eventually fail. Replacing your brake fluid once a year helps prevent this. Once again, this is something that is better left to your mechanic, unless you are experienced with cars and its parts.
5. The greasier the better:
Every aspect of your car that moves or with moving parts needs to be greased up, to prevent friction and damage. This includes parts like the ball joint and u-joints.
6. Keep it clean:
Most of us concentrate on cleaning the visible parts of our cars, while forgetting about looking under the car. In Tanzania, we have lots of undeveloped mud and dirt roads, meaning everything from sand, stones and dry earth can get under our car and make it to other parts and cause problems. So at least once a month, tell the person that cleans your car (if you don’t do it yourself), to clean under the car also.
7. Maintain your paint:
Getting a new paint job for your car can be quite pricy, but it’s so much cheaper to get it waxed. So, invest in some quality wax and apply the wax every 6 to 8 months – this will protect and maintain your car paint for longer, while giving it a great shine.
8. Keep it out of the sun:
We live in a very hot country and the sun is very generous. Unfortunately, the heat from the car can damage the look in of your car (not to mention cause it to overheat).
Have you ever seen a car where the plastic in the interior and exterior had started to peel off and dry out? This totally ruins the look of a car. So, do your best to always park your car under a shade and install a window deflector screen and a UV protectant to prevent the plastic in your car from being damaged.
9. Your tire size matters:
Consult your car manual, to make sure your tires are the right size and pressure. There are plenty of small garages on the side of the road that will measure and fill up your tires. Having the right size, will not only make it easier for you to drive, prevent accidents and save fuel costs, it will also ensure that your tires don’t wear and tear too quickly.
10. Drive properly:
How you drive may be one of the biggest factors that affect how long your car lasts. Make sure you:
- Protect your breaks by not breaking too rapidly and suddenly
- Don’t drive to fast and strain your engine, unless you have a vehicle with high horsepower
- Don’t put the wrong fuel in your car
- Go slowly over speed bumps, as jumping, can damage internal parts
Learn from a pro
Even if you are inexperienced with cars, you can learn to do these 10 maintenance tips by yourself, therefore, saving money on hiring a mechanic. However, a great way to become a pro* at your car maintenance is to ask your mechanic to teach you how to do all the tips we discussed.
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a reliable mechanic, we have plenty of options for you.