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Here's why checking your car's oil and water is important: 7 top car checks

2017-08-10 10:50

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Cape Town - The heavier your car is, the more fuel you use, there's also a reason why you're always told to check your oil and water levels. ... Here are seven top motoring checks for new drivers, or a refresher for veterans.

Pieter Niemand, director of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), shares some important tips every driver should be aware of.  

1. Storage Compartment

The more weight you're carrying around in your boot or car, the more fuel you're using, and therefore, the more it's going to cost you!

Assign one day a week to empty out the contents of your car. Just think, with what you save on wasted petrol you could end up with enough for new necessities or even groceries!

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2. Checking your oil and water levels 

Basically, if your car runs out of oil, the engine will have no lubrication, seize up and die, leaving you with a car that doesn't work and a hefty mechanic's bill.

Checking your oil once a month can prevent this. Make sure your car has been stopped for five minutes or so (the engine turned off!), open the bonnet, pull out the dipstick from the engine then wipe and replace it, before pulling it out again - the oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks. If it's not, then it’s time to top up.

3. Air cons and windows...

Ever heard the common myth that having your air-con turned on uses more fuel than opening the window? At most speeds, if the car window is open, the coefficient drag is enough to make your car work harder thus using more fuel. In fact, it uses about the same amount of fuel as having your air-con turned on. 

4. Changing tyres or getting a flat

Putting the gear lever into “park” won’t stop the vehicle from moving and falling off the jack, once lifted. If you have passengers onboard, have them get out, and apply the handbrake as tight as it will go.

Switch the engine off. Open the boot and ensure that the spare wheel is at hand before undoing the wheel, as I’ve seen many a rear end of a vehicle in the air with wheels off and the driver unable to get to the spare wheel in the boot. The biscuit wheel is an emergency wheel and cannot be used indefinitely. Have the flat repaired immediately.

5. Testing the fuel gauge

This may sound a little bit silly but the 'E' on your petrol gauge does not stand for 'enough'! If you're running on reserve find the nearest petrol station and top up. Not only is it dangerous if you get caught out without fuel, it's not good for your engine either.

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6. Clutch riding

Keeping your foot on the clutch while driving will not help you change gears more smoothly. Rather the thrust bearing is being overworked by constant pressure from the fingers of the pressure plate which will ruin the thrust bearing and cause premature clutch failure.

7. Thinking of driving in heels? Think again…

High heels elevate your foot and distort the ability to measure how much pressure needs to be applied to the clutch and brake pedals. Heels also have a good chance of getting caught in the floor mat. If your heel is wedged under the pedals or stuck on the carpet/floor mat you might not be able to react swiftly. Consider keeping a comfortable pair of driving shoes in your car and do a quick shoe change before driving.

“Remember to regularly get your vehicle serviced. It’s far more cost effective and less dangerous to maintain your vehicle rather than waiting for a part to break and then replacing it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your vehicle and what is being done during a service and always use a reputable workshop,” advises Niemand. 

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