The average age of a scrapped car is roughly 14 years, but the average age of on-the-road cars is closer to eight years. But don't panic; there are a few easy things you can do to ensure that your engine and car last for years to come.
We've put together a list of simple recommendations to help you save money on fuel and keep your car on the road.
Maintain the battery in your vehicle.
The battery in your car will deteriorate and run-flat if you don't use it for lengthy periods of time.
If your car is parked in a garage for an extended length of time, consider using a trickle charger to keep the battery charged or a battery conditioner if it looks to be holding less charge than usual. If your battery does run flat, jump-starting your car puts additional strain on it and may harm the engine management system and other sensitive components, resulting in a double-whammy of increased wear.
If you don't have access to a trickle charger, you should aim to drive your car at least once a week — especially in the winter.
Regularly replace filters
The oil filter and air filter in your car become clogged with time, so it's critical to replace them on a regular basis. They should be replaced as part of the routine car service, but because both are reasonably straightforward operations – especially the air filter exchange – you might as well try it yourself and save money.
It is also possible to extend the life of the air filter by cleaning it. Use original components and follow the instructions in your owner's manual for filter cleaning and replacement. Cheap, low-quality filters may cause long-term harm to your engine.
Keep It Smooth
Driving with mechanical compassion is something you should always strive towards. There are several advantages to driving smoothly. It makes your passengers more comfortable (particularly youngsters in the rear seat), reduces vehicle stress, uses less fuel, is safer in general, and allows you to go faster along the road.
Driving smoothly will also decrease component wear and tear. Simple tasks like smoothly using the steering wheel, gearbox, and pedals are essential, as is looking ahead to avoid the need for rapid braking. Driving smoothly is better for your car and the environment, and predicting the road ahead by accelerating and decelerating gently will save you money on fuel.
Keep in mind that carbon deposits can build up and clog the valves, intake manifold, and other elements if you never fully rev your engine, lowering efficiency and perhaps causing a misfire.
Allowing your engine to rev to the redline at least once every several hundred miles is recommended - but only while the oil is warm and you're on a quiet road.
Clogged diesel particulate filters (DPFs), which are meant to catch dangerous exhaust pollutants, may also be a concern with diesel automobiles. Once a month, go for a longer highway run to help clear them out.
Make use of your air conditioner.
The saying "use it or lose it" might be used for air conditioning.
Air conditioners leak refrigerant gas over time, especially if they aren't utilized on a regular basis. You may save money by turning off your air conditioning, but you may wind up with a charge for air conditioning re-gassing (usually approximately £50, accessible at most garages and fast-fit shops).
Yes, this includes letting your vents blow cold on occasion in the winter.
Spark plugs and leads must be replaced.
As cars are starting to become more complex, drivers are less likely to perform their own maintenance. However, changing spark plugs and high-tension leads is another simple chore you can do yourself to improve the performance of your engine.
Keep in mind that you should always consult your vehicle's owner's manual and follow the service schedule.
When evaluating a spark plug, make sure it has the following features:
• a light brown electrode and insulator
• no signs of melting
• no signs of wear or deposits.
A worn spark plug shows that it needs to be replaced, and it might also indicate the state of your engine. If the plug is fresh and there is a substantial gap between the electrode and the insulator, the engine may be underperforming. If this is the case, you should seek advice from a nearby garage.
The leads should be changed if they develop cracks or show symptoms of significant wear. We prefer having this done by a competent car garage, but if you have the skills and are confident, you may do it yourself as long as you follow the rules in your vehicle's handbook.
This does not apply to diesel vehicles because they do not have spark plugs.
Regularly replenish fluids
Fluids are the lifeblood of your car, and neglecting to refill them may be disastrous.
Open the hood (with your car on level ground) and remove the dipstick once every two weeks to check your engine oil. Wipe it down with a cloth before dipping it.
If your car has a petrol engine, the oil level should be between the minimum and maximum indicators and a light yellowy-brown colour as it comes out. If the oil is dark and filthy it should be changed. However, diesel engine oil gathers soot as part of the regular combustion process, so dark-coloured oil in a diesel engine isn't a reason for concern.
The coolant reservoir should be topped up with 50 per cent distilled water and 50 per cent antifreeze every two weeks, as should the windshield washer bottle. For the latter, we recommend a store-bought screenwash. Avoid using washing-up solutions since it includes salt and other compounds that may harm your paintwork.
Examine your tyres
Tyres are perhaps your car's most critical safety element, and maintaining them on a regular basis – around once a week – might save your life.
Under-inflated tyres increase fuel consumption, so keep them filled to the appropriate pressures in your car's owner's manual to save money. Keep in mind that the front and rear tyre pressures may differ. To balance outwear and extend tyre life, some experts recommend rotating your tyres (i.e. shifting the fronts to the backs and vice versa).
However, we recommend selecting the least-worn tyres on the back axle for safety reasons, as loss of front grip (understeer) is considerably easier to handle than a rear-end slide (oversteer).
Follow the servicing schedule.
Regular maintenance is essential to maintain you're car in good shape and extend its life.
Service intervals are determined by the amount of time or miles travelled, such as once a year or every 10,000 miles. Check your owner's manual to see when your car is due for a service and what maintenance is needed.
Many new cars include dashboard warning lights that illuminate when maintenance is required.
In general, a minor service should be performed once a year and a major service every two or three years. A minor service comprises changing the oil and oil filter, as well as, if necessary, refilling other fluids.
A major service may also include the replacement of the air filter, spark plugs, and cambelt, depending on the car and mileage. Even a minor service should involve inspections for oil and fluid leaks, tyre pressures and condition, excessive exhaust emissions, brake wear, and the proper operation of the steering, gearbox, clutch, suspension, lights, wipers, and horn, among other things.
Cover Your Car
Although most of us have garages, how many of us truly use them? Let's clarify that: how many of them really store cars?
Most cars are left on a driveway or a road as they get larger and more corrosion-resistant, and the garage basically becomes an extension of the loft or garden shed. Consider this your justification for a purge. When you park your car in a garage, it stays dry, clean, and safe, lowering the chances of damage, vandalism, and theft.
It can also help you save money on car insurance. If you don't have access to a garage, consider investing in a high-quality vehicle cover, especially if you park your car for extended periods of time.