It is easy to spend a lot of time researching and investigating the best car to buy during your travels in New Zealand, but once purchased many travellers neglect to spend a bit of time each week maintaining their car.
Maintaining your car means it will drive safer, last longer and the chances of maximising your selling price will increase.
If doing it yourself is not to your liking, you can book your car in for a service at a local mechanics. Chances are there will be a menu of services to select from such as bronze, silver and gold, depending on how comprehensive you would like the service to be.
Check Your Tyres
Check your tyre pressure regularly. If your tyres are underinflated they will wear faster and your car will use more fuel to travel distances. If your tyres are overinflated, damage can be caused to the suspension and steering components of a car. If your car seems to veer to one side when you are driving it is likely that your wheels are not correctly aligned. You can take your car to a tyre specialist to get this checked and corrected.
Most service stations in New Zealand have ‘air stations’ with an air pressure gauge for you to check your tyre pressure. You can ask an on-court concierge to show you how to read the numbers on your tyres so you know the correct PSI range your tyre pressure should be at.
Check and Change your Spark Plugs
It is recommended most cars change their spark plugs and wires approximately every 50,000km. This is generally quite a straight forward procedure (check out you tube videos for instructions).
Pay Attention to Your Warning Lights
Depending on the age of your car, warning lights on your dashboard will alert you to low oil levels, an overheating engine and incorrect tyre pressure. It is important that you take action as soon as possible when these lights are illuminated.
As well as regularly checking your oil levels and topping them up as required, it is also important to regularly change your oil. Some service stations in New Zealand will have an on court concierge who you can ask to check your oil levels and show you how it is done.
Oil is often referred to as the lifeblood of a car. All moving parts in your engine are lubricated by oil and oil prevents them from overheating. Old engine oil will gradually deteriorate and can usually be identified by examining the clarity of oil on your dipstick.
You should be able to look up the car manufacturers recommendations for how often to change your oil. This could be in a manual that comes with the car, or by looking at the manufacturers website (or contacting them directly for this information).
Not all oils are created equal and you could choose to invest in an oil specifically designed for older cars. Generally a petrol station will be one of the more expensive places to purchase oil as opposed to a place like The Warehouse, Repco or Super Cheap Auto.
When changing your oil you should also consider replacing your oil filters. The oil filter catches debris and dirt that could be in your engine.
A mechanic will be able to change your oil, or you could look online at one of the many video tutorials that will show you how to do it.
Maintain your cooling system
The cooling system on a car includes the thermostat, radiator, water pump & coolant. The way to protects these from overheating is by ensuring you have the correct amount of coolant circulating throughout your engine. If your coolant levels are low, this is the most likely reason your engine might overheat.
If you do have the correct amount of coolant and your car is still overheating then take your vehicle to a mechanic and they will be able to run a check on the cooling system. This will be a small investment compared to the damage that can be done to your engine if it overheats.
Check Your Air Filters are Clean
Air filters are what stops dirt, leaves and other debris from entering your engine where they could quickly clog things up and cause mechanical problems. Check your air filters are clean and if they are not it is worthwhile getting new air filters installed as quickly as possible.
Check for Leaks
If you are noticing your oil levels are regularly getting lower, this could be due to an oil leak. Other fluids that could be leaking from your car include brake fluid, engine coolant and antifreeze. You can visually check under the bonnet of your car for leaks or unusual smells, as well as inspecting the ground that your car was parked on top of.
Don’t run your fuel tank too low.
There is a small amount of sediment in the fuel that you pump in to your tank and this will settle at the bottom of the tank. If you run your car to the very last millilitres of petrol in the tank that sediment filled fuel could be sucked through your fuel filter and in to your engine. You can avoid this by regularly topping up your fuel tank.
By keeping the interior of your car clean, you will be decreasing the chance of smells accumulating which can be difficult to get rid of. It is important to keep the interior of your car as dry as possible. Every car has a substantial amount of electrical components to them and moisture and electronics do not mix well.
The cam belts on your car are rubber and spin around when the engine is on. The general function of a belt is to run the fan, water pump, alternator and air conditioner. Check these belts for signs of wear and tear which could include cracking. If there is ever a squeaking or squealing sound from the belts, it is likely that they need replacing or adjusting.
This is a specialist area and crucial to the safety of your vehicle. If you notice any problems with your brakes get them seen to immediately. This could include any noises made when pressure is applied to the brakes.
A battery is what makes a car start. It supplies electrical energy to the ignition system and starter motor. A battery will generally last for around 5 years and a mechanic will be able to give you an indication of how old your battery is. By driving your car for at least a few hours every couple of weeks will keep your battery charged.
You will quickly know if your wiper blades are not doing the job they are supposed to. Most service stations will stock blades or you could purchase them from a specialist car shop such as Repco, along with windscreen washer.