Cars are prone to a lot of wear and tear just from everyday use, but that doesn’t necessarily mean damage is inevitable. There are various things you can do as a car owner to protect your vehicle, both on the road and off the road. Everything from how you operate your car every day, to how you store it when it’s not in use, including what regular maintenance you perform, can protect your car’s working parts and significantly prolong its lifespan.
1. Regularly check your vehicle
It’s a simple thing that many drivers forget to do all the time. Regularly checking your vehicle’s working parts, including the engine oil, coolant, tyre pressure, and electrics, can help you nip problems in the bud before they become serious. And, of course, make sure you stick to your regular MOT checks to ensure your vehicle is running smoothly. Protect your vehicle in the short term to save yourself money and time in the long term!
2. Top up fuel regularly
It might be tempting to save a few quid by waiting to top up on petrol until the very last minute. Unfortunately, that tactic will cost you more money on repairs in the end. Even when a car is running out of fuel, the pump wants to keep taking in the same amount to power the vehicle. This means the pump can start drawing in the air and sediment from your nearly-empty fuel tank. All of this air and sediment can cause damage to the pump and the internal workings of the engine. Don’t take the risk, fill up your tank!
3. Install a dash cam
Even if we take all the precautions you can with a car, there’s one thing drivers can’t control: other drivers. Thousands of accidents happen every day across the UK. Most of them are not seriously life-threatening but all of them are a major inconvenience to car owners. One step you can take to limit the damage from accidents is by installing a front and rear dash cam. If you do end up in a collision, an in car camera can capture the whole event on video, providing you with valuable evidence for taking to insurance companies or the police.
4. Keep your car clean
Washing your car is more than keeping up appearances, it can actually prolong the life of your vehicle. Regularly cleaning your car’s body and windows helps to remove grit that can get into your car’s moving parts and speed up the rate of wear and tear. Polishing your car’s exterior every year helps to protect the body from rust, and a protective spray on the dashboard can prevent cracks or discolouration.
5. Use your brakes, not your gears
Breaking by switching to lower gears is a valid way of reducing your speed, it’s even something they recommend to new drivers. However, engine braking too often can damage your gearbox, especially when you’re driving at high speeds or shifting through multiple gears at once. Rely on your brakes first and foremost when reducing your speed.
6. Avoid modifications
Seeing modified cars in the movies can make it a tempting idea in real life, but be careful what you wish for. In actuality, vehicle modifications can be a slippery slope into damaging your car. The fact of the matter is, a car is designed for all its elements to balance perfectly. If you modify one part of it, chances are it will put a strain on the other parts. Protect the lifespan of your car by thinking carefully before adding any modified parts.
7. Keep your car covered
So far we’ve been talking about protecting your vehicle on the road, but what about when it’s not in use? Many cars spend most of their life off the road, sitting in driveways or in road side parking. In fact, most UK drivers rarely store their car in a covered garage, leaving it outside at risk of the elements, vandalism and theft. If you have a garage, use it to protect your car. If you don’t, consider renting covered parking, or investing in a removable car cover.
8. Check your tires
Understanding all the workings of a car may be beyond most drivers, but you don’t have to be a car expert to keep an eye on your tires. Poorly maintained tires can lead to increased fuel consumption, reduced handling and potential punctures. Get into the habit of checking the tire pressure, tread depth and general health every now and then. Catching a problem before it gets worse could avoid a breakdown and save you a lot of time and money.
9. Change your filters
Another quick tip of at-home car maintenance is to keep an eye on your car’s filters. There are two filters in question: air filters and oil filters. Both become clogged over time, reducing your vehicle’s performance. If you’ve not had your car serviced in a while, take a look at the condition of your filters. Check your vehicle handbook: you may even be able to wash them yourself rather than replace them entirely.
10. Drive smoothly
This last tip is really one of the most important, but it’s also one drivers take for granted all the time. It’s something you get taught in your driving theory test and it holds true for years later. Driving smoothly — as in not accelerating or braking suddenly and harshly — is a major factor in protecting your car on the road. Not only does it make your car more fuel efficient, it reduces the chance of surprising other motorists, thus preventing accidents. Thinking carefully about how you operate your car on the road is the best first step towards protecting it.
…and much more!
This is only the start of what you can do to protect your vehicle, both on the road and off the road. Have a think about what small things you can do to protect your car today. You’ll thank yourself in years to come!