A steady stream of improvements in car technology means the vehicles you now buy are far more reliable than before. Manufacturers subject each vehicle to a series of tests to detect deficiencies and faults even before the vehicle goes to the dealer. Second-hand cars are also subject to a variety of checks before used car salesmen are allowed to sell them to prospective buyers. Indeed, the stringency of such tests is itself a selling point with dealers and used car showrooms.
But once the car, bike or other vehicle comes into your possession, you alone are responsible for its health and if you don’t maintain your vehicle well, you increase the risk of breakdown, lower fuel efficiency, and greater emissions. Each of these risks has a direct linkage with your financial well-being, so remember the adage that “a stitch in time saves nine”. It is wise to invest the time and money to get the vehicle serviced regularly than to face the potential consequences, which could include higher expenses, non-availability of the vehicle through breakdown and all-round inconvenience.
Useful Digital Technology
Rising levels of automation in cars means there is a computer under the bonnet of many vehicles. In fact, most cars now have more powerful computer chips in them than did PCs a decade ago. This makes it far easier for you to monitor the health of the vehicle. Indicators on the dashboard convey to us the nature and severity of many potential problems, such as low levels of engine oil or coolant. But it is entirely up to you to heed these warnings and take necessary and timely action.
Getting your vehicle regularly serviced is an obvious precaution. But there are many other routine checks you can do on a regular basis, that are just as important. Such checks include fuel level, inspecting tyres visually for tears or punctures or under- inflation. Check headlights, tail-lights and brake lights often to ensure they are in working order. If you drive only one vehicle regularly, over time, you start getting a “feel” for it.
Unusual Experiences, Smells and Sounds
Watch out for symptoms such as brakes that need to be pressed harder than usual, or a steering wheel that feels “tighter” than it used to. Unexpected smells or sounds while driving could also signal potential trouble and are worth checking out as soon as possible. If you are unsure about what may be causing the problem, read your car handbook to first check if what you are facing is common and there’s a simple explanation or solution. If your handbook is not able to troubleshoot the situation for you, seek professional assistance.
There is another category of maintenance that has to do with the body of the car, so be sure not to neglect the car’s exterior. Although a lot more plastic and composites go into car manufacture these days, there is still a lot of scope for the body to rust. This risk is compounded if you are unable to give your vehicle the protection of a garage during extended periods of rain or poor weather. Rust is a bigger risk in pre-owned cars, as there may be small chips and cracks in the paint that allow moisture to enter. As soon as you see the first signs of rusting or corrosion, take remedial action and that way, you can extend the life of your car and preserve its resale value too.