Ten Tips to Keep Your Car in Tip-Top Shape

Summer is in full swing. And just as we like to keep ourselves healthy and fit, so we can apply some Ďtop tipsí to keeping our cars in shape. Here are the AAís ten top tips for longevity;

  1. A gentle start-up: Revving the engine when starting your vehicle is a quick and sure-fire way to wear it out, especially if itís cold outside.
  2. Taking it easy: As you commence your journey, avoid rapid acceleration. The most wear on the engine occurs in the first twenty minutes of operating the vehicle.
  3. Avoid lazy idling: Leaving an engine warming for long periods of time damages the components of the engine since it doesnít operate well at peak temperatures, leading to incomplete fuel combustion, soot deposits on valves, sensors, cylinder walls, catalytic converters and oil contamination.
  4. Neutral is necessary: Putting the car into neutral while stationary, for instance at a red traffic light, puts less strain on the engine and automatic transmission.  Leaving your car in gear while itís not moving means the engine is still working to push the car even though itís stationary.
  5. Careful on the clutch: If your car has a manual gearbox, avoid riding the clutch at traffic lights or while stuck in heavy traffic. Riding the clutch (resting your foot on the clutch pedal) will do more damage to the release bearing than the clutch plate. If the clutch springs are very weak, it could cause you to burn (glaze) the clutch.
  6. Making changes: With regular rotation, your tyres will wear more evenly, ensuring maximum road life. The first rotation is particularly important. The rotation period is usually specified in the ownerís manual, but if not, you should be rotating your tyres every 9,700 to 12,000 km. A good tyre dealer will know the correct pattern, and some brands of tyres donít need to be rotated at all.
  7. Long-term storage: Prevent unnecessary damage to your vehicle when leaving it standing for long periods. Disconnect and remove the battery. Fill up the tank to prevent condensation from accumulating, and avoid brake corrosion by disengaging the parking brake.
  8. Avoid stress: Pulling the steering wheel to the extreme left or right position for more than a few seconds, places excessive strain on the power steering pump, suspension and tyres.
  9. Lose weight: A huge bunch of keys places unnecessary strain on your ignition. Such a weight, combined with the pulling effect as it bounces while driving, wears out the tumblers and could cause ignition switch failure.
  10. Keep it cool: Keeping your car out of the sun, and the sea air, treating it to a regular wash and wax, will all help better preserve the body.

Itís the simple things in life really.

Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1180

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