Eight Top Maintenance Tips for New Drivers
Getting your first car is a rite of passage for most people in just about any developing country. It marks the exciting transition into full independence, with no more waiting on Mum (or Dad) to come and collect you from football practice or a date. But with all great power, comes much responsibility. Not just knowing how to drive safely, you need a solid maintenance plan to ensure that your ride is safe to drive. Most first time owners are not driving a new car either and therefore have little idea of how their car had been treated before they became its custodian. Here are some top tips for first-time car drivers that even some experienced drivers may not know.
1. Read the owner’s manual.
Okay, reading it like a novel would probably send you to sleep but familiarising yourself with the contents and the main sections and returning to it often to ‘brush up’, particularly when something seems a bit ‘funny’ when you are driving, is a very good tip.
2. Keep an eye on the gauges.
Modern cars have the most complete set of gauges and useful information than ever before. Take the time to look at them when you first start your car in the morning and familiarise yourself with what is ‘normal’. This way, you will immediately spot something that is amiss, even if you are not particularly sure what it means.
3. Take the gauges seriously.
This is a statement of the obvious, but even experienced car owners will push it a bit, particularly when the fuel gauge creeps into the red area, which means that you really should be in a filling station and not on the open road. If a light comes on and you have no clue as to what it means, check the manual; if it is the ‘check-engine warning’ then pull over quickly and have your car checked out by someone who knows what they are doing.
4. Change your oil regularly.
Probably the most important maintenance practice. Modern cars now have very long intervals between oil changes, so it is easy to forget to change the oil. If you are not sure, a simple call to your local dealer will sort this out or you could always check your owner’s manual. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended interval and grade of oil, and best to use a friction modifying additive like X-1R’s. It is cost effective and will protect your engine.
5. Check your fluids.
Your car has a number of different fluid reservoirs: oil in the engine and the transmission, water in the radiator, brake fluid, power steering fluid, oh and of course, the windscreen washer bottle. You need to be able to locate all of these and have them checked regularly.
Be a Boy Scout and be prepared – especially in older cars, it is a really good idea to have a box of essential items, which should include some spare oil and other fluids that you can access yourself. It is also a good idea to put some other essentials in there like paper towels, gloves, torch, and even jumper cables.
6. Check your tyres.
The wrong tyre pressure will cause uneven wear and high fuel consumption, leading to a hefty bill for new tyres or petrol. Most filling stations have tyre pumps and it is a great idea to periodically check the tyre pressure. Whilst you are at it, check the amount of tread that is available.
7. Check your lights.
At least once a month, check that all your lights are working; defective lights are a threat to everyone’s safety not only your own.
8. Be battery aware.
Flat batteries are the cause of most breakdowns. Being aware of how your battery is doing is not easy to do without specialist equipment, but your local mechanic will happily check the battery for you (if you ask) when you get the car serviced. A lot of cars have the battery ‘hidden’ away; find out where it is so if it goes flat, you can more easily get a jump using the jumper cables you so thoughtfully put in the Boy Scout box (point 5 above).
Of course, this list is really just a starting point for the new driver but it is important to recognise how important being vehicle aware is and how regular maintenance will keep you and other road users that little bit safer as you go about your business.
You can learn more about how X-1R can help you at www.x1r.com.my . Happy motoring.