The Road Ahead : December January 2009
buying & owning used cars If you’re planning to keep your car for a while, it’s important to maintain it. STORY BARRY GREEN counts CAR CARE F ew things match the joy a new car owner feels when driving out of the showroom. But from that time on, their ‘pride-and-joy’ is never quite the same again. The fact is, a motor vehicle is very much one, large, costly, consumable item. Bit by bit, it wears out, and every year it usually becomes less desirable to own. But with the current economic downturn, keeping a car longer might become more of a fi nancial necessity than an option. RACQ technical advisory service manager Peter McAulay is adamant that the key to a benefi cial, long-term relationship between an owner and his or her car is maintenance. “By that, I mean regular maintenance – which should be performed according to the manufacturer’s recommended servicing schedule by an accredited mechanic – and preventative maintenance that you can do yourself,” Mr McAulay said. “Get into the habit of lifting the bonnet every weekend and performing the checks listed in your maintenance handbook: coolant, oil, battery, brake fl uid, power steering oil and auto transmission levels.” Tips for your car •Coolant and engine oil are the engine’s lifeblood. Too little coolant can cause an engine to overheat, while a loss of oil RACQ’s technical advisers have a number of tips to help you look after your car: can lead to an expensive engine break down. mark and no more. •Coolant should be at least at the minimum mark on the reservoir. If lower, more should be added, up to the maximum •The oil level should be checked against the indicator marks on the dipstick. Again, if needed, clean oil should be added up to the maximum mark. qualified mechanic. 10 •Be mindful that the need to constantly top up either the oil or coolant is a sign that the car should be checked by a •If the car is either using an inordinate amount of fl uid, DEC 08/JAN 09 or leaking it, check the fl oor of your regular parking space for telltale signs. •Develop a ‘nose for trouble’ so that you can detect when something doesn’t feel quite right with the car. It may be a strange sound, smell or sensation. •Use only fl uids specifi ed in the maintenance handbook. •Keep a repair fund so that when your car does need work, the money is there to get it done immediately instead of putting if off. Delays could be costly. afford. •Use quality replacement parts. Opt for the best you can •In addition to running it well, keep your car looking good. A regular wash, polish and vacuum do wonders. Chances are, if you feel better about driving it and being seen in it, you will want to keep it longer. cycle or walk instead. •Using your car less can also extend its longevity. Consider the need to drive everywhere. Maybe catch public transport, •Plan your trips. Do a round of errands rather than a series of single ones. The RACQ offers car care courses in Brisbane and the Club’s car fact sheets provide more details on maintenance and other issues. Go to racq.com for information, or phone 3666 9760 to enquire about car care courses. Photo by Cynthia Farmer, Shutterstock.com.
October November 2008
February March 2009