The Importance of Car Maintenance
It is estimated that a Malaysian driver travels an average of 2,348km monthly in their car1. In order to keep your car in tip-top condition, car maintenance is essential to prolong the life of your vehicle. Not only that, as drivers, it is our responsibility to regularly maintain our vehicles for the safety of ourselves and others on the road.
Here are a few car maintenance tips to keep your car in optimal condition.
1. Monitor Car Fluid Levels
Cars have several fluids to keep them running properly, hence monitoring your car’s fluid levels is an important component of car maintenance. Here are some important car fluids that you need to keep an eye on.
a) Engine Oil
Cars need oil to lubricate the metals in the engine. If the oil level runs low, friction between the metals in the engine increases, which creates heat that could make the metals meld together2. You also need to ensure that the oil in your car is changed regularly. Dirty oil is thick and erosive – it contains contaminants that slowly wear out the engine3. Another thing to look at is the oil colour. It should be either brown or black; otherwise, send your vehicle to a mechanic for further diagnosis4.
b) Transmission Fluid
Transmission fluid acts as a coolant and transmits power from the engine to the transmission. Like engine oil, transmission fluid helps to lubricate the engine and keeps it functioning properly. When it runs low, contaminants will start to form, thus shortening the transmission’s lifespan. It is an important part of car maintenance to change your transmission fluid according to the recommended mileage in your vehicle manual – every 30,000 miles to 60,000 miles, depending on the car manufacturer. In between service appointments, you can regularly check your car’s transmission fluid level on your own by checking the transmission dipstick while the engine is warmed up and running. Do note that transmission fluid does not burn up, so if the level is low, there might be a leak somewhere5.
The coolant in your car helps to absorb heat and pass heat through the radiator; however, the coolant will slowly break down over time due to the hot environment that it is in. Coolants include rust inhibitors that prevent rust from forming. If the rust inhibitors stop working, rust will block the tiny passages within the radiator and heater which will overheat the engine. It is therefore important to check your coolant level based on the schedule in your car’s manual. You should check the coolant level while the engine is cold: it should be at or above the minimum line on the transparent refill container6.
2. Perform Routine Brake Checks
Checking your car’s brakes is another important item in the car maintenance checklist. Brakes are a hydraulic system consisting of a set of pads that run on brake fluid and squeeze together when triggered. You will find it hard to slow down or stop your car if the pads are worn out and become too thin. Some cars have service lights that indicate when your brakes need servicing. Alternatively, if you notice any grinding sounds when you brake, it may be time to check for leaking fluids or worn-out brake pads7.
3. Check Your Car Battery’s Performance
Your car battery plays an important role in keeping the car’s electrical components working8. There are signs that indicate your battery is reaching the end of its life – you may need to change your battery if you notice any of the following9:
● it takes a longer time than usual to start your engine;
● the lights on your dashboard flicker when the car is starting;
● the headlights dim when the car is idle;
● corrosion is visible at the battery’s terminals and cables;
● other electronics in the car, such as your power windows, start to perform poorly.
4. Inspect Your Tyre Condition
Checking your car’s tyres is another key aspect of car maintenance. Too much pressure in your tyres may affect your vehicle’s cornering, braking and stability. When there is too much pressure, less tyre surface touches the ground, which affects your car’s traction and braking abilities. Low tyre pressure conversely causes the tyre to touch the road more, which will then result in the tyres wearing out faster and overheating. Therefore, it is important to always check that your tyres are at the recommended pressure10.
Car tyres can also get worn out due to factors such as vehicle alignment and usage. When performing car maintenance, you can extend the service life of your tyres by rotating them to balance the tread wear evenly11. You can also check on your tyre alignment to ensure your vehicle’s suspension is performing properly. Poor tyre alignment may cause your car to steer towards one direction or result in vibrations while driving. You should take your car to a service technician if you are experiencing any of these issues12.
5. Check and Replace Wiper Blades when Necessary
Last but not least, checking your windshield wipers is another crucial car maintenance step. Windshield wipers are essential for ensuring safety on the road as they help us see and operate our vehicles effectively, especially during the rainy season. Generally, it is recommended that you change your windshield wipers every six months or when compromised. Look out for instances when the wipers do not clear the rain effectively and leave streaks, make noises, stick to the windshield, have visible damage, or show any discolouration or hardening of the rubber13.
In addition to making use of these car maintenance tips, get extra peace of mind with AIG Car Insurance for those unexpected moments on the road. Our comprehensive product comes with Smart Auto Assist Services, which provides you with 24/7 nationwide road assistance that includes unlimited towing service*, emergency battery delivery and installation, and on-the-spot assistance when faced with vehicle breakdowns.
*Not applicable for policies issued by selected car dealers.
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