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Summer In The City – Basic Car Maintenance For You.

Summer 2014 is nearly upon us for us here in Australia and it’s a perfect time to look at some basics of car care. But where to start…of course, you can do it at home or take it to a service centre/mechanic.

Well, there’s two logical starting points with one being the engine and the other being the tyres. Let’s look at the rubber first. A crucial point is tyre pressure. Why? Having an under or overinflated tyre causes excessive tread wear, can cause sidewall damage, limits the size of contact on the road and can affect the performance of your braking system. The sidewall of the tyre will have the MAXIMUM pressure recommended for the tyres on your car; the tyres themselves will be of a certain size in diameter, width and sidewall height with that information also stencilled into the sidewall. This is important as certain sized tyres should be fitted to your car and therefore the pressure for them will vary. Somewhere inside your car (generally on the pillar between the front and rear doors) should be a placard with the right tyre pressures for your particular tyres and car.tire-pressure

Engine wise, the savvy utilise certain times of the year to perform basic maintenance. The most common would be changing the oil and it’s not as hard as it sounds. Naturally, safety should be your first priority so invest in some good thick gloves and eye protection, if you’re intending on doing this at home. A good drive to warm up the current oil (makes it easier to drain), jack up the car, loosen (but not remove the sump plug) and slide in an appropriate holder. Taking due car, remove the plug and remember that the oil will be hot. Using an oil filter remover, swap the old filter for new once the oil has finished draining, wait for the engine to cool off and, after reinserting the sump plug, pour into the top of the engine your chosen oil. But which oil? Your user manual that came with the car will have that info. If not, then contact the manufacturer of your vehicle. Fresh oil lessens interior engine wear nd will help in fuel consumption.lifetime-engine-oil-1

If your chosen chariot is of a more user friendly style, you should also be able to change your own spark plugs. Again, new plugs will aid fuel efficiency providing you set the gap at the end of the plug correctly, by burning the fuel more effectively, reduces emissions and will give better driveability. There’s different kinds of plugs so do please check what plugs your car has before buying.spark-plug-gap-025

Your airconditioning system may need a regas. It’s a great opportunity to take this to a licensed service centre and have them check for leaks from potentially corroded connections or cracked pipes. Yes, it may cost a few dollars but when that cost is spread over a number of years…then there’s windscreen wipers. Being rubber, they suffer from UV exposure plus, if not cleaned regularly, can trap and scratch windscreens from embedded particles of dirt and dust. While your at it, check the level of wiper fluid (it’s in a bottle in the engine bay) and if it needs topping up, your local automotive retailer specialist store can provide.

On a hot day, we keep cool, with fans, aircon or fluids and your car is the same. Radiator fluid may fail to be efficient over time (depending on your car and its cooling system) so a check in your user manual or with your car’s maker will advise just how much and possibly what TYPE of radiator fluid your chariot needs. Depending on the car you have, there will be a drain plug at the base of the radiator. Once drained, flush the system with water and follow the directions in regards to refilling.radiator_cooling_400w

These all presume, once again, that your car can be self serviced. If not, then, again, please refer to an authorised service centre. And be prepared for safer driving during the summer months!

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