Tips to extend the lifespan of your car
It makes a lot of sense then, for us to keep our current vehicles running in good condition than to be forced into buying a new one.
Protecting the vehicle that gets you from A to B is smart. And it may be as easy as checking your oil and water regularly and making sure that your tyres are constantly well inflated.
Here are several tips to extending the lifespan of your car.
Seems like a bit of a no-brainer. But it all helps, especially cutting back on those shorter trips. Cold starts are hard on engines and petrol consumption. A lot of short trips can significantly shorten the life of the basic parts of your engine. The premise behind this is that starting your engine leads to condensation in the engine. If you’re not driving for long enough for that condensation to evaporate, it starts to build up. Excessive amounts of water lead to rust damage.
Avoid starting a cold car just to pull it into the garage, for example. Or consider walking to your nearest shop instead. Combine short errands and, if you have multiple vehicles, drive the one more recently driven when you go out again.
Check your fluids regularly
Fluids such as antifreeze, oil, water, transmission fluid and brake fluid should be checked regularly. Simply get into the habit of checking these whenever you fill up with petrol. You may think that it’s a bit unnecessary, especially if your vehicle’s in good working condition. But consider this, if your vehicle does start leaking, and you check it regularly, you’re far more likely to pick up the problem early and attend to it.
So, what does checking involve? Typically, you’re looking for colour, level and consistency. Different brands of clean antifreeze will be different colours (predominantly light blue). Brand-new oil is slightly golden. But will appear black when you use your dipstick to check it. Black and smooth means that it’s still healthy. Black and clammy or gunky, probably means you need an oil change. Your oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks on your dipstick. If it’s not, it’ll need topping up.
Change your oil regularly
This will not only improve your engine’s performance but also protect it. A good rule of thumb to follow if you’re a regular driver is to change your oil once every six months. Doing this will probably extend your engine’s lifespan by a good two or three years. And don’t forget to change the oil filter at the same time: There isn’t much use to filtering clean oil through a dirty filter. If you’re not sure how to do this, check your car owner’s manual or contact your car’s dealership.
Change the air filter
This is something you can easily do at home, with few a tools. Why not change it with every oil change? You can buy a matching filter at all good autopart stores across the country and your owner’s manual will tell you where your air filter is located. A dirty, dusty air filter will hamper your engine’s performance and impact your mileage.
Monitor your brake pads
Don’t let your brake pads wear down to metal. This will cause damage to your brake discs and possibly even your callipers as well. Hint: Your callipers are far more expensive to replace than your pads. There is no such thing as ‘cleaning’ a brake pad while it’s still on a car and please don’t even bring oil or lubricant near your brakes. If your brakes are squeaking or otherwise making a noise, consult a mechanic or your manufacturer.
Tend to minor repairs as and when they arise
So, you’ve noticed your car is pulling to one side, or there’s a slight hum when you switch on your air conditioning. These are little things that can become big ones when left unattended. Take care of these problems at your earliest convenience to prevent further – and ultimately more costly – damages to your car.
Keep your tyres inflated
Under-inflated tyres can reduce the tyre lifespan by 15 percent. And with the prices of tyres these days, a 15 percent longer life can mean a few thousand Rand extra. A lack of tyre pressure will also result in lower mileage, which basically means that you’re throwing money away. So, check your car owner’s manual (alternatively, most cars have the required pressure in the driver’s door) to find out the recommended pressure. Every time you fill up with petrol, get the attendant to make sure that the pressure is where it needs to be.
Inevitably your used VW Polo will need to go up for sale. But putting these tips into practice will significantly increase your vehicle’s lifespan and almost certainly make your car a more attractive buy when you want to move it on.