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Car maintenance – some important don’ts

These days, our cars are so technically advanced and computer controlled, that there is very little that we need to do to maintain them. Which makes them foolproof, right?

Wrong! There are lots of simple mistakes you can make in taking your care of your car some of which can have expensive, or even dangerous consequences.

Here are some of the worst car care howlers that you should avoid at all costs.

Top car care mistakes:


  • Overdoing the oil – everyone needs to check their engine oil and occasionally top it up, but add too much oil and things will start to go badly wrong very quickly. Always check your oil when the engine is cold and on the flat, and add the oil a little at a time, re-checking as you go along, rather than throwing in the whole bottle
  • Wrong tyre pressure – Too little air in your tyres will really cost you in extra fuel, as more of the tyre is in contact with the road causing drag. Too much air will make your tyres wear out much quicker and make your steering much less responsive when you need it most. Check your car’s maintenance manual for the correct pressure or look for information inside the driver’s door frame.
  • Jumping the wrong way – If you are unlucky enough to have a flat car battery and need a jump start, make sure you connect the jump leads in the right order – donor positive to flat positive, then donor negative to flat engine block. Connect them wrong and you could blow fuses or even burn out the electrical systems in both cars.
  • Timing belt maintenance – Most cars will need the timing belt changing somewhere between 60,000 and 90,000 miles. This is not a cheap job, but you ignore it at your cost. A broken timing belt causes massive engine damage, which could be the end of your car. Your car’s maintenance manual will tell you when the belt should be replaced, and if in doubt, ask your garage or main dealer.
  • Topping a hot radiator – If you need to top up your radiator with water or coolant, you shoud always let your engine cool down first. Not only is it really dangerous to try to open a hot radiator, putting cold water into a hot cooling system can cause it to crack and leak.
  • Putting in the wrong fuel – Perhaps the worst maintenance mistake is that sinking feeling when you put the wrong fuel – petrol or diesel – into your car. If this happens, whatever you don’t try to do is start the car! Emptying and cleaning your tank is expensive enough, but the damage you’ll cause by trying to use the wrong fuel in your engine will be much more expensive.
  • At the end of the day, if you are not sure about how to maintain your car safely, then ask someone who is. A little embarassment has to be better than a big bill to put right your mistake.

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