Car Problems You Can Easily Avoid
When repair bills add up, motorists often play the ‘should have, could have, if only’ game.
But, with these common car problems and how to avoid them, you won’t need to play.
Problem: Paint fade
Result: decreased resale value
You may have seen this on older cars before, a flaky discolouration on paint, usually on the bonnet or roof. It’s oxidation caused by the sun’s UV rays which are pretty tough in the Aussie summer.
It happens because oxygen and heat combine to break down the molecular bonds and structure of the paint.
Abrasive cleaning brushes, strong cleaning chemicals and pollution can also cause paint fade.
Avoid it by…
Washing your car regularly with good quality car wash liquid. Never use dish detergent or other non-car products to wash your car. Washing regularly keeps pollutants off your car’s paint.
Also, add a layer of wax or ceramic coating for extra protection and good looks.
Problem: Shifting into reverse while still rolling forward
Result: expensive repair bills or even a write off
One of the most expensive parts of a car is the transmission. It can easily cost several thousand dollars or more to replace as it’s a labour-intensive job.
If some older cars need a new transmission, they may be considered a write-off due to the high costs involved.
Avoid it by…
Being gentle. Never get impatient and change to ‘Drive’ while still rolling backwards. Hard acceleration from standstill can also cause problems. Transmissions in most cars aren’t designed to hold the weight and momentum of a car on them.
Use your brakes and come to a complete stop before changing from drive to reverse or vice versa.
Problem: Driving hard on a cold engine
Result: Cracked or over-stressed engine components
We all know that engines need oil. A cold engine doesn’t have the oil pressure and lubrication that a warm engine does. Driving a cold engine hard is never recommended, in fact, most owners manuals advise against it.
The higher the stress, the shorter the engine will live.
Other than lubrication, seals and metals are more brittle at cold temperatures and when exposed to sudden, high heat from hard acceleration, can fail.
Avoid it by…
Giving your engine a few moments to warm up on cold mornings. ‘Moments’, of course, vary on the type of car, temperature and how long since it’s been driven.
You might be able to drive slowly and calmly for a few minutes before driving at high speeds.
Problem: Running on empty
Result: Damaged fuel pump, fuel filter and engine
We all hate high petrol prices (with the exception of petrol stations themselves) but running your car on empty to avoid high fuel prices can be much more costly.
When driving on an empty take, other than risking getting embarrassingly stuck, you risk your fuel pump sucking up debris that may be in the bottom of your tank. This can damage the engine when the pistons burn (combust) the dirty fuel. It can also clog the fuel filter.
Furthermore, the pump itself can get damaged as it relies on the fuel to cool it down. When near empty, your pump may ingest air bubbles as the remaining fuel sloshes around in the tank.
Avoid it by…
Keeping at least 15-20% in the tank. It’s hard (and frustrating) when prices are high but you might only need to put in a few dollars to maintain that 20% until prices fall again.
If you’re worried, know how to save petrol.
Australia has fuel cycles which means the prices go up and down. Of course, fill up when it’s cheap.
Problem: Ignoring scheduled services
Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money testing and collecting data on their products.
Huge amounts of money go into an engine design, if it gets a bad reputation or common problems, the result can spell serious losses for brands.
It’s common to see tried and perfected engines in multiple vehicles and new generations of models coming out with updated versions rather than all new engines.
However, they need care. Servicing schedules are carefully planned out so that each time you take your car in, mechanics know exactly what parts to replace and when in order to make sure the vehicle has a long life.
Avoid it by…
Following the manufacturer’s servicing schedule. It can get expensive but repair bills are often much more.
Also, when you go to sell the car, both dealers and private buyers almost always want (and expect) to see a properly maintained service log book. Without this, it gives a buyer something to argue to price down with.
At the end of the day
A car, for most people, is one of their most valuable possessions, and one they rely on pretty much daily.
It makes sense to treat cars with the respect and care they deserve.A good tip is to purchase a car you actually like. Some people settle on a ‘cheap car to get from A to B’ and while this might be easy on the wallet upon purchase, it can often lead to neglect and repair bills and needing another car sooner.
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