Many drivers understand very little about cars and that’s absolutely fine. Your mechanic doesn’t expect you to know your timing chain from your turbocharger – but there are some things they do wish you knew.
1. Be aware of your vehicle maintenance schedule
Prevention is better than cure. One of the biggest issues is that vehicle owners don’t understand the need for maintenance – or the costs involved. Modern vehicles need to be serviced every 10-15 000km or once a year, these intervals will be indicated in the owner’s handbook. Any car owner should know how to check the basic fluid levels in their car and do so regularly.
2. Take note of lights and instrument cluster messages
The habit of disregarding service lights and cluster messages – something many motorists are guilty of – is a big mistake. There is a very important reason why the manufacturer equipped the vehicle with the reminder. Ignoring the light can lead to exhausted parts doing further damage to other serviceable parts, making for greater expenses later.
Worst case scenario, you’ll end up stuck on the side of the road – but even if things don’t get that bad, you’ll probably pay more than you would have had to because of additional problems that may be created. As a rule of thumb, if the engine or warning lights are flashing or are red in colour consider it an emergency and stop driving the car immediately.
3. Never skip a service
Just because your vehicle is running well doesn’t mean you can skip a service. Regular servicing gives technicians the chance to pick up minor defects before they become major problems. Services are all different and focus on different parts, which is why it is important to stick to the recommended servicing schedule.
4. Cheapest isn’t best
As with anything in life you pay what you get for. Qualified vehicle repairers have made large investments in training and tools to ensure that they are adequately equipped and knowledgeable enough to service or repair your car in line with manufacturers' recommendations and this may come at a cost.
5. Change your oil
The oil is the lifeblood of your engine and using the incorrect oil or a cheaper brand can cause massive problems for your car, leading to sluggishness. It’s worth paying a bit extra to ensure quality oil, which could mean greater longevity for your engine.