Many of us prefer the cost advantage of buying a pre-owned car from a trusted dealer. It is a delicate balance between the price saving and age/mileage of the vehicle. Top dealers today stake their reputation on offering only the cleanest used cars, so you will know that the car you get has never been in an accident and anything not working properly has been fixed.
But times are tight and some of us tend to hang onto these cars a few years longer than we would have in the past. There is nothing wrong with this, as long as you make sure you do the right things at the right times and keep everything going as they should.
Your car is made up of several component systems that work together to make your car ‘go’. All of them will need attention at some stage. Your tyres, brakes, battery, suspension, starter motor and even your wiper blades are vital to keeping your car on the road. But today we will look at the engine and what you must do or have done to keep it in top shape.
Understand that your engine is subject to wear and tear as it packs on the years and kilometres. That said, most car engines now are built to superb standards and will keep going as long as they are looked after. Speaking of looking, when last did you have a look at your engine? Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, and like blood, when it is visible, that is not good. If there is oil visible on any part of your engine, or on the garage floor, you have an oil leak and must have it looked at. It could be something small, like a tappet cover gasket, or it could be something expensive. Like blood, you cannot ignore it.
You also have to look after your oil. Check the oil levels regularly and top up if needed. If the topping-up starts getting a regular thing, your oil is going somewhere and you need to have it looked at. Most of us have our cars serviced by experts and according to the manufacturer’s schedule involving kilometres travelled or time passed, or both. That schedule is not an arbitrary rule – car oil is a highly dynamic substance and gets old and dirty whilst keeping your engine clean and lubricated.
Speaking of clean, your car will need new air and fuel filters at the required intervals as well. A clogged air filter will cost you money in wasted fuel and increase wear and tear on the engine by inefficient running. The fuel filter is self-explanatory – it catches impurities in your fuel before they get a chance to snarl up the delicate parts.
Engines get hot and need to be kept cool. Check your radiator fluid regularly and top up if needed.
As long as you check the oil and radiator regularly and service your car on schedule, your engine should give you years of hassle-free driving, as well as the best possible trade-in price once you reach your age/kilometres threshold and need something new.