Five things you should do to keep your car in top shape

For most of us, a car is a tool. And like all good tools, cars work at their best when we've put a bit of effort in to keep them in prime condition.

There are numerous benefits to regular car care. Not only does it make our cars more enjoyable to drive and sit in, but it can increase their resale value when it comes time to trade them in.

Here are five easy ways to get the most out of your current car:

1. Take it easy when driving

A car needs a little bit of time to warm up when turned on. Not much, though—it’s said that no more than 30 seconds is needed, even in winter. Once you’re on the move, avoid high revs until the engine and its oil are warm (roughly 65 degrees C for the latter). This prevents unnecessary engine wear.

Look ahead when you’re driving. If a traffic light ahead has already turned red, you can coast until you reach it. This saves fuel and puts less stress on the engine and brakes.

Always keep an eye on any dashboard warning lights. Yellow lights are early signs that something should be resolved soon. Red lights are immediate issues, and if you see one you should consult your manual to figure out what to do next—usually it’s a trip to the mechanic.

2. A clean exterior (even in the winter)

Winter can be tough on cars, especially in Canada. Make sure you swap to dedicated snow tires once the mercury drops under 7 degrees C: it’s safer and will lessen brake wear and drivetrain stress.

Salt and grit are also persistent issues during the winter. Make sure to clean off both regularly in the cold months. Salt is a major contributor to rust, opening the door for road grime to find its way underneath paint and bodywork.

When winter’s over, it’s time to get your car back in warm-weather shape. Follow our tips for getting spring ready here.

Regardless of the season, make sure to repair any paint or glass damage as soon as possible. Waxing the body and rims might take some extra time, but it keeps them cleaner for longer.

3. It’s what’s on the inside that counts

Now that you’ve cleaned your car’s exterior, it’s time to do the same inside.

Rubber floor mats are essential in the winter, keeping slush and salt away from the car’s vulnerable floorpan. For added peace of mind, lay out newspaper underneath the mats.

Wipe down the dashboard regularly to keep the plastic—or leather—from ageing prematurely. The same goes for the seats. If they’re leather, keeping them clean will help avoid cracking.

Check out our in-depth guide on how to make your car really sparkle inside and out.

4. Keeping an eye on oil

Oil change intervals have steadily gone up over the past few decades. Don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security, though; leaks or high oil consumption can still happen. Check your dipstick on a regular basis to ensure levels are good, and if you need to add more, make sure it’s the right type—and don’t over-fill!

Make sure to stick to the oil change intervals the manufacturer recommends, too. Stretching services can cause permanent engine damage, not to mention void any warranties if issues do arise.

5. The importance of tires

What’s the one part of the car that’s always in contact with the road? Your tires are essential, so treat them well. Make sure they’re inflated to the proper pressure. This ensures the best handling, plus improved economy. When it comes time to buy new ones, make sure they’re the same size and of comparable quality.

Keep an eye on wear, too. For warm-weather tires, stick a quarter in between the treads. If the queen’s crown isn’t fully covered, it’s time for some new shoes for your car!

 

Now you’re armed with the knowledge to keep your car at its best. Check out more car-care advice right here on Kijiji Autos.

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