How to look after your car and make it last longer

Broken Vintage Car

With the arrival of October, we’re officially into the colder autumnal-wintery months of the year. While that’s great news for lovers of cosy nights in and pre-Christmas excitement, it’s not as good a time for your car, which is quite literally left out in the cold over the period.

You might be doing a little bit of extra car maintenance over this period to negate the effects of the cold weather, but there are plenty of things you should be doing year-round on a regular basis to ensure the longevity and reliability of your motor.

It is key that you look after your motor for the long-term as Matt Eland, the Director at Direct Gap mentioned “Looking after your vehicle is not only essential to maximise its resale value but also for your safety. Issues such as low tyre tread and low engine coolant can cause serious, long-lasting, issues to your vehicle and may even leave you stranded at the side of the road! It’s important to look after your vehicle while it’s in storage too, which many have been for the last few months, despite not being used your tyres may still lose pressure and your battery can drain causing problems when you start motoring again.”

Clean inside and out on a monthly basis

Whether you want to treat your car like an extension of your house or you’re just looking to keep the winter gremlins away from under the bonnet, it’s worth cleaning your car inside and out on a monthly basis (you might want to clean the outside more frequently than this through winter).

This is useful on two fronts, aesthetic and practical. First, you keep your car clean and tidy making it a more pleasant environment for you and any passengers. Second, and more importantly, regular cleaning reduces the chances of muck and grime that has progressively built up over time getting into places it shouldn’t, thus reducing the risk of any mechanical issues.

During the colder months of wet, slushy and salted roads, the latter is especially important.

Change the oil every 7,500 miles

Your car oil is the life blood of the engine – the lubricant that keeps everything running smoothly. Why change it? Well, over time, without fresh oil, dirt can build up in your engine to the point where it can go kaput, which will come at a serious cost to you down the line.

The recommendation is to change your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles, as well as checking it every month. Regarding the oil itself, it’s best to go with a trusted brand as there is an element of what “you get what you pay for” when it comes to purchasing your oil.

Use the air-con regularly

This might appear a little old fashioned to some, but if you are one of the people who still goes easy on air-con usage in order to help save petrol, you might want to reconsider.

Your air-con system, if left unused for a while, can leak refrigerant gas, which over time can lead to a re-gassing bill which will likely negate any thrifty savings you made on the fuel you didn’t use.

Keep on top of tyre pressures

Another at least once-monthly check up should be your tyres. Tyre pressure matters for on-road performance, not only affecting fuel consumption but also many key handling and safety areas. Find out your recommended front and back pressures from your manual (it’s also fairly easy to find specific model info online) and head to your local air supply every thirty days, or before a big journey.

While you’re there, check tread levels, too. Winter time isn’t a good time of year to have worn tyres, so make sure your tread depth is above the 1.6mm legal limit, as well as keeping an eye out for any cracking or bald spots.

Maintain your car to maintain your investment

You should always think of your car as an investment, indeed it likely will be as most of us tend to buy and sell every few years. Therefore, future resale value should always be in the back of your mind.

How do you keep that as high as it can be? Good maintenance is a start, and the regular cleaning mentioned above can make a huge difference as first impressions count when it comes to making a sale. Also, when it comes to buying your car in the first place, are you thinking about factors relating to its potential depreciation or lack thereof? You can also protect your car’s value against said depreciation via guaranteed asset protection – a move that will cover you in case of worst-case scenarios.

Looking after your car is an every day of the year job, luckily many of the most effective things you can do to keep things ticking over are pretty easy to carry out. With the potential perils of winter driving on the horizon, make sure you’re looking after your four-wheeled friend with some regular TLC.

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