If you have just passed your driving test with flying colours, congrats from us. It is a pretty amazing feeling to have your own car sitting in the driveway and for the first time in your life, you can enjoy total travel independence. There is a cost to running a car; fuel, tax & insurance and, of course vehicle maintenance, which is an essential aspect of car ownership.
Here are a few important aspects of car maintenance that you should know about.
- Engine Maintenance – The power unit needs a change of engine oil every 5-8,000km (see owner’s manual) and the oil filter also needs to be changed, while all belts are checked for wear and tear and correct tension. The air filter needs to be cleaned and spark plugs examined and if the engine seems to be performing correctly, that should be it. Brake and clutch fluid levels are checked and topped up when required, as is the engine coolant level. Modern vehicles are computer controlled and the mechanic plugs his laptop into a plug located under the steering wheel, which gives the technician a full readout of the vehicle.
- Tyres – The tyres are the only contact you have with the road and if you need new tyres in Brisbane, check out the low prices for quality brands. You should inspect the tyres every time you drive, looking for bulges, tears and any foreign bodies that you may have picked up. Tyre tread is obviously critical; worn tyres may not have adequate grip, especially in wet conditions and check for correct inflation (see owner’s manual). A set of tyres is quite an investment, but one that is necessary and when you think the tyres are worn, drive to your nearest tyre shop and ask their opinion. Wheel alignment is also necessary and the tyre shop has state of the art equipment to carry out precise wheel alignment, while balancing all tyres when fitted.
- Brakes & Steering – Both are critical; brake pads should be examined and replaced when worn down to a minimum, while both brake and power steering fluid levels need to be checked. If the brakes feel spongy, there could be air in the system and the mechanic would bleed the air out via one of the wheels. When your car is in for a service, the mechanic checks the steering rack while the vehicle is on a lift, plus he drives the car to get a feel of the steering and brakes. If the car doesn’t seem to be handling properly, have a garage investigate and carry out repair.
- Suspension – The suspension units are gas filled and sealed; replacements might be needed and you would notice the difference if a shock absorber malfunctions. On some hi-end cars, the suspension is adjustable, which is a nice feature to have. Click here for tips when searching for auto finance.
- Lights – Headlights (full beam), rear tail lights brake and reversing lights and indicators should be checked. If you blow a bulb, your local garage would stock a replacement; bulbs do malfunction and it is not safe to drive without a full set of lights.
- Gearbox – If gear changes are smooth, you only need to check the oil level and top up when necessary; you must use the correct grade gearbox oil, as specified in the owner’s manual.
The modern car is made up of 30,000 different parts and each vehicle has its own unique service schedule. In the rear section of the owner’s manual are all the details of each service and what needs to be done. If you buy a new car, the first few services are free, after that, there is a per-hour labour charge, plus any components that are required. Here is some government information about vehicle ownership.
The Owner’s Manual
Every car has an owner’s manual and this handbook follows the car throughout its life and has all the information the owner needs to operate and maintain the vehicle. You should read this manual from front to back as soon as you take delivery of the car and make sure that all services are recorded in the rear section.