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With my car parked outside right now, I must admit that my commitment to giving it the TLC it deserves needs a little bit of work. Throwing out this topic during our content meeting, I admitted to not being sure about when my car was due for service and the fact that I have a habit of only reacting to my car issues when something goes wrong. This conversation escalated to a five-minute banter between Neo and Olwethu Leshabane pointing out that Olwethu’s car was due for a service, and keeps flashing on the dashboard, which she denied seeing. 

As the only two females in that room at the time, this was clearly something we needed some schooling on so I huddled up a team of experts and compiled top eight car maintenance tips for your vehicle and this is what they had to say;

1. Car Maintenance Starts With Good Driving 

I quickly dialled up Motoring Journalist, Phuthi Mpyane to ask why he thinks it’s important that we as women, learn the basics of car maintenance and he handed over the phone to his girlfriend Sebolelo Mapoti who mindlessly recited what Mpyane had taught her, “how you drive has an effect on the mechanical aspects of a car, for example, to increase the lifespan of the clutch when driving on the road, only use your clutch when you need to. Use the hand brake when you stop instead of riding on your clutch, especially on inclines” she said. Mpyane then added that bad driving behaviour can mess up your car. “I’ve also noticed that some women are generally not too clued up about the mechanical aspects of the car, for instance, should there be an issue with the car, they wouldn’t know exactly where to locate the problem. So it’s important that women familiarise themselves with common potential mechanical faults such as a dead battery, problem with the starter, brakes squeaking or grinding, etc”, he said.

2. Never Skip A Car Service 

AA spokesperson, Layton Beard warns that it’s very dangerous to skip car service. “Parts do get worn out and therefore need to be replaced. So it’s important to monitor your car’s mileage. The odometer on your dashboard should tell you how far a distance your car has travelled. The less you maintain your vehicle, the higher the chances of something going wrong. From a practicality point of view, you wouldn’t want to be stuck on the side of the road”, he emphasised. 

3. Check Your Tyres

Motoring expert, Pogiso Dibakoane advised that you always check on your tyre pressure and make sure the reading is based on your car manufacturer’s spec. “You don’t want to have uneven rolling tyres. If your tyres get worn out and if the tread is lower than the recommended depth, this could affect your car’s ability to brake. Check for damage such as cuts, tears, or bulging as well”, he added. He also emphasised that checking your wheel alignment is also crucial. “This should be done every ten thousand kilometres, especially with the roads we have in South Africa”, he said. 

4. Make Your Car Owner Manual Your Best Friend

Beard further said, too often when we buy vehicles, we tend to ignore the car owner manual. “If you buy a new television, and you take it out of the box, you may not know how to use it so you’ll refer to the manual. So even with a car, use your manual and if you don’t have one, do a quick search on the internet, you will find useful tips on your car or find the actual manual itself. You can also look on the car manufacturer’s website’s home page for more information” he added.

5. Check Your Oil

Petrol Attendant, Eldio Malope advised that checking your oil should be something you do on a regular basis. “Maintaining the right amount of oil, lubricates and protects the engine. It also prevents the engine from seizing up and potentially breaking down. It’s quite expensive to replace an engine so rather be safe than sorry”, he said while proceeding to show me, step by step. “Every morning, lift the bonnet of your car and check the oil level using the dipstick, wipe it down and dip it in again. The two dots on the stick indicate how far your oil level is”, he demonstrated. 

6. Understand What The Symbols Of Your Car’s Dashboard Mean  

“Identify signs on your car dashboard by referring to your car owner manual. if you are in any doubt about anything, you should consult the manufacturer and have them assist you. Don’t assume anything” Beard warned. Common warning lights that may pop up include the oil pressure light, tyre pressure warning, engine temperature warning, ABS (Antilock Braking System), battery alert, etc. 

7. Avoid Driving Your Car On Empty

“My advice to the ‘I know my car’ gang, is to adjust your mindset. It’s all good and well to know your car but set a limit for yourself. For example, if your fuel gauge reaches the quarter tank limit, make sure you get it filled up. You do not want to find yourself in a situation where you get stranded, your phone’s battery is dead and there’s no one to assist you. This also raises safety concerns because you might get stranded in a dodgy place and possibly get robbed or harmed. So be responsible enough to always make sure you have fuel”, warned Mpyane

8. Find a Reliable Mechanic

“Word of mouth is very important. Find out from family and friends that have been to the mechanic you are considering. Go check out the mechanic at their place of work before you leave your vehicle with them. Make sure you are comfortable with them in terms of how they are going to treat your vehicle” said Beard.

“This isn’t the most ideal advice, but it works, steal a car technician from your car’s manufacturer. There’s always that guy at the back who also works privately, go find that guy as opposed to finding someone you don’t know, under a tree, somewhere”, Dibakoane concluded, while giggling.

A broken-down vehicle will have you regretting not taking care of it when it showed those small symptoms of needing a little bit of your attention. Petrol Attendant, Eldio Malope was right, rather be safe, than sorry.