You’ve just bought your first —or second or third, it doesn’t matter—car and you naturally want to enjoy its use as much as possible. Keeping in mind that it is after all a mechanical contraption that can fail, sometimes without warning, you would want to make it trouble-free as long as you can. You can actually do so, by heeding the following tips.
Break it in gently.
The car’s break-in phase is a very important part of keeping it operational. It is the method by which the metal parts and surfaces ‘learn’ to work smoothly with each other, and thus need to be gradually ‘introduced’. Rapid breaking-in is believed to weaken the metal, causing worse malfunctions later.
At least for short trips that you can better do by walking, bicycling or jogging. On short trips, water builds up in your exhaust pipe or engine that is not expelled or evaporated by a hot engine. This water can build rust where it is not needed.
Unless some maniacal killer is after you or your life depends on speedy departure, don’t rev your car too much from a cold start, before the engine oil can do its work. Wait for the engine to get warmed up so the lubricating oil can circulate.
Watch your oil.
Some people wait until their engine oil is pitch black before changing it. That is not correct. Once the oil has lost its viscosity, it does not lubricate metal surfaces as it should, though it can prevent a metal surface adhering to another. Less lubrication means faster surface wear, so check your oil every once in a while and change it at least every six thousand miles.
Keep the gas tank filled.
Gasoline evaporates, producing condensation in the tank walls. The water will go into the fuel line and engine once enough has accumulated in the bottom of the tank. It can wreck an engine pretty fast.
Follow the owner’s manual.
The manufacturer designed your car and its engine, and probably knows better than any mechanic the design nuances and characteristics to suggest the maintenance schedule. Pay particular attention to oil change mileage, timing belt and filter change times.
Listen to your car.
Keep an ear open to how your car runs, and note anything that sounds unusual. Always compare the ‘now’ and ‘before’ because some problems can develop so gradually you don’t notice them easily. It sometimes pays to have a friend who owns a similar car along for a trip; he may notice something different in what is ordinary to you.
Fix any problems ASAP.
Big things start from small packages and so do problems, anyone who has left a windscreen chip knows that. If you immediately fix every little problem that arises, even if it doesn’t seem to affect the car’s performance, you can avoid bigger problems later.
Avoid cheap replacement parts.
They are probably of so low quality to be detrimental rather than beneficial to your car in the short or long run. Always use quality parts.
There are a hundred more ways to keep your car in tiptop condition always, but many depend on what kind, make and model your car is. The best tip would be to give your car some importance in your life, and befriend a good mechanic. If you love your car, you’ll take better care of it; otherwise, your mechanic will.