Unlike their predecessors, modern day cars are designed to age slower. Seasonal changes of condenser, breaker points, and spark plugs, and the hazards of body rust are a thing of the past. The points and condenser have been replaced by electronic ignition and many spark plugs can last over 150,000 kilometers. 3- to 6-year warranties against rust, and long life chassis, suspensions and, in some cases, transmissions, have improved reliability so significantly, that with regular upkeep, most late-model cars can last 200,000 to 300,000 kilometers.
Regular upkeep: that’s the magic mantra to making your car last longer. Fortunately, we live in a part of the world where DFY (Done For You) is more the norm than DIY (Do It Yourself). This is especially true when it comes to maintaining one’s car. Easily accessible service centers, garages, road-assistance, even the recently introduced petrol delivery service in the UAE make car care much easier for drivers.
That said, the bonus of keeping your car roadworthy ultimately lies on you, the driver. In addition to getting the car serviced at regular intervals, here are some simple periodic checks and measures that you should follow.
Check the engine oil
A monthly check for well-maintained vehicles is recommended. If you need to top up routinely or spot an oil leak get it checked and fixed at the earliest.
Check tyre air pressure
Proper tyre care and tyre maintenance play a big role in the overall performance of your vehicle. Maintaining proper tyre pressure saves money: tyres with the right pressure last longer and are more fuel efficient.
More importantly, the right tyre pressure saves lives. Improperly inflated tyres (over-inflated or under-inflated) don’t handle or stop as desired and could increase your chance of a flat. At a high speed, this could be fatal.
Every month, and most definitely before a long road trip, check the inflation pressure of all tyres, including the spare, using an accurate tyre-pressure gauge. This is best done when the tyres are cold, before driving or after driving no more than a couple of kilometers. The pressure should be based on what’s recommended by the car manufacturer, and not what’s embossed on the tyre’s sidewall. You should find this information on a sticker on a front doorjamb, in the owner’s manual, or in the glove compartment.
Also check the tyres for unusual or uneven wear, gashes, or sidewall bulges
Wash the Car
A dirty windshield is a safety hazard as your view of the road is obscured and is against the law in most countries. In addition to the daily or weekly wash, get the fender wells and undercarriage cleaned to remove a buildup of dirt, road salt, or sand. If water beads become larger than a small button, it’s an indication that you need to wax the finish
Change the oil and filter periodically
For the majority of cars that are driven under normal conditions, an engine oil and filter change is recommended every 12,000 kilometers or six months, whichever comes first. For ‘severe’ driving – with frequent short trips or in dusty conditions, the recommended interval should be half that time – 6,000 kilometers or 3 months. Diesel engines and turbocharged ones may also need more-frequent oil changes. Your owner’s manual will have the specific intervals for your car.
Getting the car serviced on time, preferably with the dealer, should take care of all else. However, if you are taking the car to a private garage, make sure they tick the following boxes during the service: