Avoid these common car maintenance mistakes.
In the mid-1990s, my brother owned a ten-year-old Honda Civic, a car so utterly simple in its construction that he rarely took it to be serviced by a professional technician. From oil changes to replacement brake pads, the car was a prime example of DIY car ownership at its best – guided, of course, by that trusty Haynes manual and its numbered guide to carrying out maintenance tasks both easy and more complicated.
Modern cars, however, are a lot more complex affairs than their ancestors, meaning it’s considerably more challenging to carry out basic maintenance yourself. Therefore, it’s imperative that you approach even the simplest car maintenance tasks with care – leaving the complex tasks to the professionals at JT Hughes – to avoid making the following common mistakes:
1. Forgetting that oil isn’t the only fluid your car needs.
‘Have you checked the oil?’ is a timely reminder many first-time car owners hear from their overenthusiastic parents, and it’s not without good reason; running out of engine oil can condemn your engine to the graveyard, so it’s essential to check the oil level frequently.
However, it’s easy to overlook the multitude of fluids your car also needs to run smoothly, from power steering fluid to transmission oil and brake fluid to coolant. Even washer fluid for a clean windscreen is easily forgotten – but it’s worth an MOT failure if you turn up without any.
2. Using the wrong oil.
We all know that engines need oil, right? But surely oil is oil? When it comes to cars, nothing could be further from the truth, and the fact that most car manufacturers recommend a certain brand and type of engine oil isn’t a simple stitch up with the oil companies to fleece consumers for as much as possible.
Different car engines need different types of oil or, more specifically, oil of a particularly viscosity. The wrong oil might fail to lubricate the engine parts correctly, leading to internal damage, while failing to use low SAPS oil in a modern diesel engine can cause the diesel particulate filter to block, the repair for which could run to a four figure sum.
It pays, therefore, to read your car’s manual to see which engine oil is recommended.
3. Ignoring the engine management light.
The engine management light is not simply an inconvenience that you wish you hadn’t seen, but an important warning that all may not be well with your car’s engine. In the US it’s more commonly known as the ‘check engine light’ for a good reason: it’s alerting the driver to a potentially serious engine fault that needs diagnosing by a qualified technician before serious damage is done.
Ignoring it is often a common response because motorists tend to assume the appearance of the warning light will be followed less than coincidentally by a huge drain on their bank account. However, the engine management light is a broad indicator of something wrong rather than a diagnostic tool. It might indicate, on one hand, a misfiring spark plug, or at the opposite end of the equation, a failing fuel pump. The fact is, without a professional opinion, you simply won’t know the cause – but ignoring the warning could jeopardise the safety and long term future of your car.
Maintaining your car is important to ensure it continues to offer you reliable and cost-effective service, but making some basic errors in caring for it could end up costing you dearly, both in terms of the inconvenience while it undergoes repairs and the impact on your finances. Why not entrust the technicians at JT Hughes to give your car the expert treatment it deserves, helping to keep you on the road whenever you need?