Maintaining your car

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BETWEEN SERVICING: How can we, as car owners with potentially limited mechanical knowledge, make sure we are maintaining our vehicles to make it from one service to the next?

BETWEEN SERVICING: How can we, as car owners with potentially limited mechanical knowledge, make sure we are maintaining our vehicles to make it from one service to the next?

YOUR car starts every time and is running fine, so why does it need a service?

Well, according to Tim Peachey, a mechanic with over 30 years experience working on a variety of cars, there are two main reasons to have your vehicle regularly serviced.

One - to prolong the life of the engine, Tim said.

If you dont change the oil it deteriorates and the engine wears out quicker.

Two - when we do a service we do a comprehensive inspection of the vehicle.

We check the brakes, tyres, belts so it becomes a safety issue as well.

I would recommend to anybody to check their oil and water, and check their tyre pressures.

Mechanic Tim Peachey

Following service guidelines is important not just for warranty coverage on new vehicles, but also to make sure they are running at their optimum and less likely to fail.

Regular servicing intervals are now around 15,000km for new cars, meaning there are more kilometres travelled between services and longer running time between replacing vital fluids.

For anyone with a car out of warranty, Id be getting it done every 10,000km or 12 months, Tim said.

Diesels should be every six to nine months.

Ok, so thats fine on an annual or kilometre basis, but what about in between times?

Tim has a couple of easy tasks that anyone who knows how to pop the bonnet can complete.

I would recommend to anybody to check their oil and water, and check their tyre pressures, he said.

Even new cars use oil and water. People buy a new car and, because its new, they think they dont need to check these things.

Because cars have become more reliable, we are doing bigger ks a lot quicker. Youve just got to keep an eye on things.

You should check the water in the radiator when the engine is cold. Simply unscrew the cap and see if there is water visible. If theres not, top it up and replace the cap.

To check your oil make sure the car is parked on level ground. Find the dipstick, pull it out and wipe it on a rag or paper towel, replace it and pull it out again. The oil level will be marked on the dipstick.

Another item owners should ensure is checked regularly, particularly on cars with high kilometres, is the timing belt if they have one.

A timing belt is just that - a belt or chain that ensures parts of the engine are working in sync. In this case its the crankshaft and camshaft, which operate the pistons and valves.

While they can be expensive to replace, not doing so can be more costly.

When they snap it costs an engine, Tim said.

It is a critical service item and should be done at regular intervals.

Every timing belt kit comes with a sticker than can be placed in the engine bay to let a mechanic know when the belt was last replaced.

Tims last piece of advice for looking after your vehicle relates to record-keeping.

He said it was important to keep all documents related to service history, such as detailed invoices, to prove the maintenance of the vehicle and keep track of when specific work was carried out.