Easy-to-remember, practical and essential steps to take when caring for your vehicle

For many of us, the prospect of buying a new car every couple of years to avoid the mechanical issues when they start cropping up, or the costs of more frequent services, seems like the simple solution. But what if we were to keep the vehicles we currently drive in tip-top condition? To the non-mechanic, it seems to be too great a task, but the reality is that it’s easier than we thought.

Midas, South Africa’s leading parts, accessories and lifestyle travel equipment store, has come up with ten easy-to-remember, practical steps for vehicle owners to remember when applying efficient vehicle maintenance.

  1. Drive responsibly, your vehicle will reward you

Accelerate slowly when you pull off, and brake slowly, too. The greatest wear and tear damage to a vehicle’s engine occurs within the first ten to twenty minutes of a journey.

  1. Regularly check tyre pressure

Under-inflated tyres impact on your vehicle’s handling and roadholding. It requires more fuel to create greater force if your tyres are under-inflated. Correctly inflated tyres can prevent a blowout and prevent damage when encountering one of South Africa’s notorious potholes.

  1. Check and replace your oil and air filter regularly

Often the case on remote South African roads, vehicles absorb dust and debris, as it enters the combustion chamber of your car’s engine. These filters help the car breathe, which in turn prolongs the life of the engine. It also has an impact on the amount of fuel your car will be using. By visiting a local Midas store and asking for assistance from one of the shop assistants or store manager, you can invest in a new filter and replace it yourself.

  1. Check the coolant level

A lack of coolant could allow your engine to overheat and cause untold damage. If a warning light comes on, take it seriously, and have it checked out as soon as possible, either by a mechanic or a store manager from a credible parts and accessories store. Replacing or topping up with more liquid is easy to do.

  1. Check the basics

Items such as brake pads, hoses, timing belts, plugs and filters should be checked regularly, and a mechanic who has access to an appropriate toolkit, technology and thorough understanding of your vehicle can do this. If you want to save your pennies, these parts can always be purchased privately from a parts and accessories store, and replaced by a reputable local private mechanic.

  1. Undertake regular service check-ups with a mechanic

Prevent any breakdowns or awkward situations, like an unwelcome emergency repair bill, by having your car serviced regularly, preferably by the same mechanic, who knows and understands the specifications of your vehicle. New vehicles should be serviced after the first 1 000kms, and from then, oil and filters should be changed on both new and used vehicles every 5 000kms.

  1. Keep to one service mechanic, if possible

Much like you have a regular GP, because he knows your medical history and understands your unique requirements, the same applies to the servicing of your vehicle. Credible workshops will keep a detailed history (service log) of your vehicle and will be able to reference it if they are unsure about what has been replaced, may need replacing, or any custom specifications that need to be taken into account. It is not enough to ensure that you engage with a service centre that services your make of car; you should build a relationship with a regular mechanic, who understands your car’s ‘quirks’.

  1. Don’t speed if your vehicle is brand new

The most vulnerable period in a vehicle’s history is in its first 1 000kms. By gently ‘breaking it in’, one can slowly wear harden the parts of a car. Bearings and cylinders should wear evenly as opposed to causing an unnecessary ‘groove’ in a part.

  1. Wash, polish and vacuum it regularly

To maintain your vehicle’s paintwork and prevent damage from dirt, oil or debris, we recommend having your vehicle washed at least twice a month. Bird droppings are more harmful than you think, with acid eventually creeping into the paintwork and compromising its quality.

  1. Damage-proof tips for long-term storage

If your vehicle is to be stored over an extended period, we recommend applying the following tips to your care in that period;

  • Plug the exhaust pipe to prevent moisture from getting in to the combustion chamber;
  • Remove the battery to prevent it from draining and place it on a charger;
  • Fill the petrol tank to prevent condensation from occurring; and
  • Wash, polish and cover the vehicle, so that surface oils, dirt and bird-dropping acid do not compromise the paintwork.