Before I start, I think it is good to know that car maintenance is actually proportional with safety on the road. The more time and money you spent, the safer you will be on the road. What is the example of consequence of not doing car maintenance properly? As a two-years-experienced crash investigator, I have seen many fatal accidents that caused by poor maintenance of the vehicle such as using expired tires and bad brake pad.
10. Pick your PumpA tank of 97 octane fuel will not turn your Proton Wira into a Mitsubishi Evo Lancer, sorry. The extra octane in premium unleaded gas does no special favors for engines with low to moderate compression, that are designed to run on regular 92 octane. And while “over-octaning” at the gas station won’t necessarily harm the average engine, it is a waste of money -- cash that could be better spent on the upcoming tips to maintain your car.
9. Wash, Rinse, and Repeat
Here’s a great example of how to spend the money saved by following my No. 10 tip to maintain your car. Let’s say you save RM0.40 per litre by skipping unnecessarily high-octane gas and filling with regular. If you have a 20-litre tank, that’s an instant RM8 saved with every fill-up; that’s enough for a basic car wash in many places. Regular washing and waxing preserves paint and prevents rust from gaining a foothold. Remember to show the interior some love too, by vacuuming and detailing.
8. Prepare for the Seasons
Whether it’s the impending gloom of raining season, hot road trips or anything in between, seasonal changes mean you need to prep your car accordingly. For many drivers, raining and hot season are the most demanding on their cars‘ batteries, coolant and tires, among other components. Extra attention to those critical areas could mean the difference between getting there and getting stranded.
7. Research Recalls
Recalls and technical service bulletins (TSBs) are sometimes issued by manufacturers, but not all make the evening news. It’s up to you to research them and keep your car alive longer by heeding their information. This tip to maintain your car is easy to follow by signing up for newsletter alerts like Automotive News who just informed us to remove the floor mats from certain Perodua models because they may cause the gas pedal to stick, causing unintended acceleration. Read up and maintain your car.
6. See the "Check Engine" Light
The notorious "Check Engine" light gets a bad rap for overdramatizing trivial onboard diagnostic (OBD) codes like a tabloid newspaper, but in fairness, it also reports news you can use. Most shops and auto-parts stores can scan the codes and translate the issues. It could be a loose gas cap or it could be a serious powertrain issue developing -- knowing makes all the difference.
5. Play Nice
You should already understand that your car’s redline is not the starting point for throttle position; if you don’t, the painful sound of bouncing off the rev limiter should smack some sense into you. Less obvious is that you can also damage your car by spending too much time at the lower end of the performance spectrum: Extended idling, even in cold climates, is pointless and wasteful. At the very least, it can promote carbon buildup and catalytic converter deterioration, all while wasting gas and pumping more emissions into the atmosphere than necessary.
4. Do as You're Told
Following the engine and transmission maintenance recommendations in your owner’s manual will extend your car’s life and save you money in the long run. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can skip the cost of upkeep and still have a vehicle that runs efficiently for very long. When you try to buy time, there’s a good chance you’ll also buy more parts and labor in the future.
3. Know Your Stats
To follow through on the previous tip to maintain your car, you can’t just turn the key and drive every time, and you can’t just roll into the shop every day for maintenance. You need to keep tabs on fluid levels and tire pressure. Checking lights and signals at the same time doesn’t hurt, either. Make it a regular habit and you’re less likely to get caught by surprise.
2. Use the Right Oil for Your Car
Don’t overthink it, just do what you need to do when it comes to engine oil. Your owner’s manual spells out accepted viscosities and possibly even the recommended brand. If you see Mobil 1 listed, for example, don’t take it as none-too-subtle advertising: It probably means your car was born with that brand in the crankcase and was designed to run best with it.
1. When in Doubt, Ask
When your car acts up between maintenance intervals but no obvious repairs are needed and the Check Engine light isn’t lit, don’t just hope the issue will go away. Don’t avoid taking action because it hasn’t been 15,000, 10,000 or even 3,000 KM, either. If you sense even the slightest odd behavior, have your auto tech check your car. It’s better to heed this top tip to maintain your car and spend a little time at the shop than to allow conditions to worsen and repairs to become even more expensive.