Look at us, being gurus. Who’d have thought? But gurus we will be, in order to help you with your car, the one you’re planning on keeping in good nick for a good long time, until the time is right to sell it to us at the best market-related price. Now onto the ‘ooooom’.
It’s spring, and spring is about rebalancing your life. Life is about balance. In harmony, you will find the Way. What is the Way? It’s how to live your life to its full potential. It’s the Feng Shui of the Soul. This is what we call ‘Zen’, the state of enlightenment many ancient masters tried to achieve throughout their lives.
You’d be surprised how many people are neglectful when it comes to maintaining their cars. Perhaps you are, too. The problem with holding off maintenance is it adds to wear and tear of your vehicle. Depreciating price in the long run. So here are some simple tips on how to know when it’s time to take your vehicle in.
- The Road to Enlightenment is Bumpy.
Normally when we have a new car, everything just feels… smoother… Like butter. Obviously, the extent of this depends on the vehicle you’re driving. But it remains true as a principle. When you start noticing the bumps in the road more and more, it’s not necessarily that the roads are getting worse. (Though they have been in certain cities, and this tends to happen during heavy rainfalls because of erosion and the impact of heavy vehicles.)
It’s more likely that your ride is. There are multiple issues here. But the primary one is probably your shock absorbers. They’re just not handling the impact of road travel as much as they used to. Wear is normal for shocks, and it’s recommended you get them checked out every 50 000 kilometres or so, anyway. Or you could do damage to your suspension. Worse, shocks help keep your tyres stable. It can be dangerous not sorting this out.
- The Journey is Long, but don’t get too tyred.
One thing you definitely don’t want to take chances with are your tyres. Case in point: we have a bit of a pothole problem in South Africa – especially in Gauteng. When you go over a pothole, the resulting force causes damage to your tyres – and can create a bubble. This bubble is bad. The reason you want it seen to sooner rather than later is this: when enough pressure is exerted on it, the tyre will burst. Now imagine you’re hurling along the highway when that happens. Most likely, you’ll spin or roll… at 120km an hour. Fortunately, you can check your tyres yourself. Just feel along the side, and make sure everything is firm. You’ll know a bubble when you feel it – it’s basically a pocket of air.
- Tread new paths.
And while you’re at it, check the tread on your tyres too. It tends to get the worst wear on the edges. Make sure there’s enough tread, because that’s what gives your tyre its grip on the road. You should be considering changing tyres once every five years at the latest, in any case, but a better rule of thumb is three. 5mm of tread is considered good.
- Make sure your car’s chakra’s are aligned.
One thing that will improve your tyres’ lifespan is checking your alignment. It’s not just that you should be worried about. There’s a danger in an unaligned car – it can veer off course slightly. It results in you putting more (unconscious) effort into keeping your car in a straight line. Essentially, when your car’s wheels aren’t aligned, they will tend to “drift’ to the left or right. Often, because we’re a right-sided driver nation (and so driving on the left-hand side of the road) the drift will be to the left.
There’s an easy way to test your alignment to make sure it’s how it should be. Let go of the steering wheel. Briefly! If you continue on straight, you’re fine. If you drift, it’s time to take your car in for that wheel realignment.
Generally speaking, you can maintain good alignment by avoiding potholes, not hitting speed bumps too hard, and not taking sharp corners – in the latter case, slow down, shift into second gear, and turn gently.
- Put the brakes on bad habits.
One of the most crucial parts of our safety when driving is how effective our brakes are. Often, we’ll be driving behind someone, and they’ll suddenly brake. For instance, you’ve been waiting at that red light for ages, it turns green for mere moments, before the long wait begins again. You’re desperate to make it this time – it turns green and the long line moves… “we can do it, we can do it!” you think to yourself, as the car in front of you seems to accelerate… but the light is already amber. You’re sure he’s going to push through, and even though it will have just turned red, so will you… only he decides to brake, and so you desperately brake… and break your front bumper against his rear end.
What you’re also doing is wearing down your brake pads considerably. Every time you have to emergency brake, you’re wearing your brake pads down. Don’t do it.
Generally, you should always have the 3 second rule when following a car. A full count of 1… 2… 3… to pass the same spot he was moments before, to give yourself time to brake. But even that is unhelpful if your brake pads are worn. And you’ll start noticing it too. Your brakes just don’t seem to work as well anymore.
Don’t leave it. The sooner you get the pads replaced, the better. You need your brakes working at 100% in case there’s an emergency you have to avoid.
- Say no to crack.
Your windscreen does more than just protect you from getting flies and moths stuck in your teeth. Pebbles, rocks, stocks, gravel, all that can go flying at unfortunate kilometres per hour into your face. The windscreen is durable, and can handle a lot of it – but sometimes a crack starts to appear. Now, the temptation is just to ignore it. Leave it, and assume that’s as bad as it’s going to get. But far more often, the crack spreads, and before long, you have fissures across the entire windscreen. If you had gotten the windscreen seen to when there was just a crack, it could have been inexpensively repaired.
But once it spreads, you’ll end up having to replace the entire windscreen… and that’s a fortune 500.
- Go get your yearly physical.
Lastly, once the maintenance plan runs out, people tend not to be as good about getting their cars serviced. Or, it’s simply the inconvenience when life is so full and hectic. But seriously, take your car into a certified dealership (don’t skimp, it’s important in the long run) once a year for an inspection and service. For one thing, they really need to change the engine oil. If you don’t do that, you’ll risk long-term damage to it. And once the engine goes, your car is more or less a write-off.
Now if you follow all these simple rules, then by the time you bring your vehicle to us, it should be in tip-top shape.